SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S



Khatri to kickstart wrestling campaign
Athens, August 22
Mukesh Khatri, who fought against all odds for his debut Olympic berth, will kickstart India’s campaign in wrestling in the 55kg Greco-Roman category bout here on Tuesday after the weigh-in tomorrow.

Spate of injuries adds to India’s woes
Athens, August 22
With their Olympic medal dream lying in tatters, a demoralised India will seek to restore some pride when they take on Argentina in their last group B hockey league match here tomorrow.

Shobha braves injury to finish 11th
India’s JJ Shobha lies on the track following the last event of the heptathlon, the 800m race
India’s JJ Shobha lies on the track following the last event of the heptathlon, the 800m race, in Athens on Saturday. Despite a ligament injury, Shobha completed the race and finished 11th.
— AP/PTI
photo

Binu blames spikes for poor show in semis
Athens, August 22
KM Binu, who established a new national record in the 400m race in the Olympics, blamed troublesome spikes and a back injury for his rather poor show in the semifinals of the event.

Yuliya Nesterenko of Belarus celebrates after winning the women’s 100m sprint at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on Saturday.


 

 

Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Olympic silver medallist, is welcomed at a felicitation function
Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Olympic silver medallist, is welcomed at a felicitation function in Lucknow on Sunday. — PTI

 

EARLIER STORIES
 
Jason Read and other members of the US rowing team celebrate after winning the men’s eights final in Schinias
Jason Read (standing) and other members of the US rowing team celebrate after winning the men’s eights final in Schinias, near Athens, on Sunday. The USA clocked five minutes 42.48 seconds to win the gold, the country’s first in the event in 40 years. — AP/PTI 

Malleswari ridicules Pratima’s allegations
New Delhi, August 22
Weightlifter Karnam Malleswari today termed the accusation of dope-tainted Pratima Kumari of having become “a victim of conspiracy” as the action of a guilty person trying to find a scapegoat for her misdemeanour. “Anybody can say anything. It is very difficult to answer everything. You can check her past performances like how many internationals she has participated in and how many medals she has won and you will know,” the Sydney games bronze medallist said.

Greece loses bronze to doping
Athens, August 22
China picked up two Olympic gold medals to pull even with the USA with 20. Greece lost one of its bronze - to a doping case that has again embarrassed the host nation. And then there was the guy who shot at the wrong target.

New doping, judging scandals at games 
Athens, August 22
Japan's Mizuki Nogushi won the first Olympic marathon raced from the historic site in 108 years on Sunday, but for Britain the race turned into heartbreak as its top runner quit in tears.

Russian winner fails drugs test
Athens, August 22
Russian woman shot-putter Irina Korzhanenko, who won Olympic gold here has failed a drugs test, the president of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission Arne Ljungqvist said here today. “Yes, she failed a drugs test. I think it was steroids, but that will be announced later after an IOC executive board meeting,” he told AFP.

Devers’ hurdles dream crashes
Athens, August 22
Two-time Olympic 100m champion Gail Devers dream of landing the 100m hurdles Olympic crown for the first time ended dramatically here today as she crashed out. The 37-year-old American pulled up before the first hurdle of her first round heat and fell to the ground clutching her left foot which was heavily strapped ending realistically any hopes of her ever winning the title.

Gail Devers of the US falls during heat five of the women's 100m hurdles in Athens on Sunday Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands holds her gold medal after winning the 50m freestyle at the Olympic Aquatic Centre China's Zhang Yining smiles after receiving the gold medal following her victory over North Korea's Kim Hyang Mi in the table tennis women's singles final
Gail Devers of the US falls during heat five of the women's 100m hurdles in Athens on Sunday. — Reuters Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands holds her gold medal after winning the 50m freestyle at the Olympic Aquatic Centre in Athens on Saturday. China's Zhang Yining smiles after receiving the gold medal following her victory over North Korea's Kim Hyang Mi in the table tennis women's singles final in Athens on Sunday.
— AP/PTI photos

Dutch, Aussies in semis; Pakistan knocked out
Athens, August 22
Eduardo Tubau scored a superb hat-trick as Spain whipped four-time world Champions Pakistan out of the Olympic hockey race handing them a 4-0 drubbing while defending champions Holland and Australia recorded contrasting victories to cruise into the semifinals from pool B here late last night.


ICC discussing inclusion of cricket into Olympics.
(28k, 56k)

Henin-Hardenne clinches gold
Athens, August 22
It’s safe to say Justine Henin-Hardenne is back on top of her game. She’s healthy for the first time in months — and has a gold medal to prove it. In a No. 1 vs. No. 2 final that wasn’t really close, the top-ranked Henin-Hardenne overwhelmed France’s Amelie Mauresmo 6-3 6-3 last night to win Belgium’s first gold of the Olympics.

Onward with champion Phelps
Athens, August 22
Tough news for aspiring Olympic swimming champions: Michael Phelps could be ruling the roost for another two games. The 19-year-old American performed great feats in the Athens pool, claiming six gold medals and two bronze to match the record aggregate for a single games.

Iraq storm into soccer semis
Athens, August 22
War-weary Iraq’s dream run in the Olympic football tournament carried them into the semi-finals after a spectacular overhead kick by Emad Mohammed gave his team a 1-0 win over Australia.



Iraqi footballers wave to their fans following Iraq's 1-0 victory over Australia in the quarterfinal match in Athens on Saturday. — AP/PTI photo
Iraqi footballers wave to their fans following Iraq's 1-0 victory over Australia in the quarterfinal match in Athens

Lepennec takes Khorkina's asymmetric crown
Athens, August 22
Svetlana Khorkina's eight-year reign as Olympic asymmetric bars champion was dramatically ended by little-known Emilie Lepennec of France on Sunday after the Russian diva lost her grip on the apparatus.

Athens Diary
Empty stadia belie organisers' claim
E
mpty stadia notwithstanding, the Athens Olympics are getting appreciation from athletes, officials, media and tourists alike. Though the Athens Olympics Organising Committee (ATHOC) has been claiming that it has sold more tickets than Barcelona (1992) and Sydney (2000), yet attendance at venues does not corroborate their claim. Heat is taking its toll. At noon venues are empty.

‘Wrong target’ costs USA gold
ATHENS:
China’s Jia Zhanbo won the gold medal in the men’s 50-metre rifle three-position target event at the Athens Olympics on Sunday after American Matthew Emmons was ruled to have fired at the wrong target on the verge of victory.

Players of Russia and China compete during a women's volleyball preliminary match in Athens on Sunday Players of Russia and China compete during a women's volleyball preliminary match in Athens on Sunday. China won the match 3-0. — Reuters



India in must-win situation
Amsterdam, August 22
Having suffered a humiliating defeat in their opening game to Pakistan, India now find themselves in a must-win situation against none other than world champions Australia in the cricket tri-series here tomorrow.

Injured Agarkar ruled out
Amsterdam, August 22
India’s injury woes mounted as Ajit Agarkar, who played against Pakistan in the cricket tri-series opener, was today ruled out of the crucial second league tie against world champions Australia tomorrow because of a side strain.

Zoysa bowls Lanka to 37-run win
Colombo, August 22
Left-arm seamer Nuwan Zoysa took career-best figures of 5 for 26 as Sri Lanka defeated South Africa by 37 runs in the second one-day international here today. Sri Lanka now leads the five-match series 2-0, having secured a thrilling three-wicket win in the opening match on Friday.

Prakash’s brace puts India in semis
New Delhi, August 22
R.C. Prakash displayed admirable opportunism as he struck a brace enabling India enter the semifinals with a 2-1 win over Myanmar in their LG Cup football tournament lung opener in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam today.

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Khatri to kickstart wrestling campaign

Athens, August 22
Mukesh Khatri, who fought against all odds for his debut Olympic berth, will kickstart India’s campaign in wrestling in the 55kg Greco-Roman category bout here on Tuesday after the weigh-in tomorrow.

He would be hoping for a favourable draw to make a mark in the category which has in fray top grapplers including World Champion Dariusz Jablonski of Poland, Marian Sandu of Romania, Uran Kalilov of Kyrgyzstan and Hakan Nyblom of Denmark.

Khatri, who had prepared for this arduous campaign in June-July in Colorado Springs in the USA with top coaches and former Olympic champions, is a confident youngster with his polished technique and positive attitude.

“I have followed a stringent routine with former Olympic champions and top wrestling coaches in the USA and am very positive towards my performance in the Olympics,” the 22-year-old Khatri told PTI

Khatri is desperate to justify his training which he pursued defying the Wrestling Federation of India’s schedule. He had also insisted that his personal coach Ramphal Thakran accompany him to Athens instead of chief coach Gian Singh and succeeded in doing so.

“I have trained with this coach (Thakran) since my childhood and his presence will inspire me during the main event,” said Khatri, the lone Indian entry in Greco-Roman which does not allow the matmen to grapple with their opponents by holding them below the waist.

“I came to Athens on August 11 and have acclimatised well. I am now anxiously waiting for my bout which is in the lowest weight category and Asians are doing well in it,” he said.

In the freestyle, India will have representation in all but one category after a gap of over a decade. The freestyle team arrived here after warming up in Sophia, Bulgaria and is geared up for the formidable task ahead of them.

Indian hopes will rest mainly on Sushil Kumar (60 kg), who finished fourth in the World championships in New York last year. He would have to fight out of his skin to climb the podium in the 60-kg division which is expected to be dominated by fighters from the erstwhile Soviet Union and Iran.

According to India’s chief coach Jagmander Singh, the young grappler has worked hard on correcting his weaknesses and has a better footwork and grip now.

But he needs to make an extra effort if has to come home with a medal from a weight category which has strong contenders in World champion Arif Adbullayev of Azerbaijan, Leonid Spiridonov of Kazakhstan, champion at the first qualifier, Shirayr Hovhannisyan of Armenia, the second qualifier winner, Li Quan of China and Bararmagnai of Mongolia. A favourable draw could enhance his chances.

One other freestyle hopeful Yogeshwar Dutt has the credentials to do well, having beaten Korea’s Kim Hyo Sub, the World Military Wrestling Champion, to clinch the gold in the 55kg class final of Asian freestyle qualifying event in Sophia, Bulgaria.

Indian standards, by and far, have improved over the last few years after a perceptible decline in the 1990s and it has resulted in the matmen making their presence felt at the Asian and world level. But Olympics is certainly a different kettle of fish.

Sujit Mann, the senior-most member of the team competing in the 74 kg, would definitely find the going tough with Russia dominating the field since the last four years.

Prominent Asians in this section are Kunihiko Obata of Japan, who was placed third behind Mann in 2004 Asian Championships, Hadi Habidi of Iran, Si Riguleng of China, Jae-Sung Jang of Korea, Chih Wen Huang of Chinese Taipei and Battuya Batchuluun of Mongolia.

Ramesh Kumar (66kg), Anuj Kumar (84kg) and Asian silver medallist Palwinder Singh Cheema (120kg) would also find themselves pitted against bigwigs from Russia, Cuba and the USA.

India have only one medal to boast of from wrestling, the first individual medal won more than half a century ago by 54 kg wrestler, the late Kashaba Jadhav in the 1952 Helsinki Games.

The current team has the potential to perform well, but in the end it would all boil down to how eager they are and how much fighting spirit they possess to combat higher-ranked grapplers from the wrestling powerhouses. — PTI

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Spate of injuries adds to India’s woes

Athens, August 22
With their Olympic medal dream lying in tatters, a demoralised India will seek to restore some pride when they take on Argentina in their last group B hockey league match here tomorrow.

A last second goal against New Zealand in the previous match has dashed whatever little hopes the team harboured for a semi-final berth and now their target will be to improve upon their seventh-place finish in the Sydney Games.

Things have gone totally awry for the team which undertook an extensive training programme in the USA and Germany in the build-up to the Olympics but have failed to play anywhere near their best in the tournament which has seen several so-called weaker teams like South Africa and New Zealand springing a surprise or too.

Defending champions Holland and Australia have already qualified for the semifinals from group B while India were placed fourth in the group with three points alongwith South Africa. New Zealand have six points to their credit from four matches while Aregntina have manged just one.

While the on-field performance has been far from impressive, the spate of injuries to a number of key players has compounded the misery for the team.

With defender William Xalco ruled out of the tournament and Deepak Thakur, Baljeet Singh Dhillon and Sandeep Singh in the casualty list as well, the Indians would struggle to field a team against the Argentinians who are capable of beating any team on their day.

“There are so many injuries that I don’t know if I will be able to find 11 fit players for the match tomorrow,” chief coach Gerhard Rach said.

Xalco has a fractured thumb and can take no further part in the tournament while forward Deepak Thakur was still in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital in the Games Village for breathing problem and is unlikely to take any further part in the tournament.

A shoulder injury to Dhillon and niggling injuries to few other players mean that India will hardly be in the right frame of mind when they go into their last league match at the Helliniko Hockey Centre, a floodlit encounter they must win to aim for a higher place in the classifications.

The Indians will try to put away the controversies of the last match against New Zealand which saw India concede a penalty corner in the last second to lose the match 1-2 triggering off unruly scenes in the galleries by a group of Indian supporters who hurled absues at the Spanish umpire Xavier Adell. — PTI

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Shobha braves injury to finish 11th

India's JJ Shobha grimaces as she is assisted by other athletes after injuring her leg in Athens on Saturday
India's JJ Shobha grimaces as she is assisted by other athletes after injuring her leg in Athens on Saturday. — AP/PTI photo

Athens, August 22
J.J. Shobha displayed admirable grit and determination as she soldiered on despite a ligament injury to finish the gruelling women’s heptathlon at the Olympic Games here yesterday.

Shobha battled excruciating pain in her left knee to take the 11th place with 6172 points, while her compatriot Soma Biswas logged 5965 points to finish 24th at the Olympic Stadium.

The gold went to Carolina Kuft of Sweden, who got 6952 points. Lithuanian Austra Skujyte (6435) clinched the silver and Great Britiain’s Kelly Sotherton (6424) claimed the bronze.

Shobha, who had finished 20th after four events on Friday, climbed to the 12th spot after the day’s first event — the long jump — and went up one rung higher following another good performance in javellin, when tragedy struck.

As she hurled the spear to a distance of 44.36 metres in her first effort to record her personal best, the Karnataka girl was seen writhing in pain and could not make any further attempt, raising apprehensions that she might have to opt out from the concluding 800m event.

However, in tune with the Olympic spirit, Shobha not only participated in the event but also came third, clocking two minutes 17.28 seconds to finish third in the race. After the event, Shobha had to be stretchered off, receiving all-round cheers from the sports buffs.

The Indian was paid a rich tribute by the newly-crowned Olympic heptathlon queen Carolina Kluft.

Showering praise on Shobha, the Swede said, “I was simply amazed to see her running the 200m. This was an heroic effort. I have seen athletes sustaining injuries and then go for immediate comfort. She could have pulled out of the event, which she did not, and that is a huge thing.” — PTI, UNI

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Binu blames spikes for poor show in semis

Athens, August 22
KM Binu, who established a new national record in the 400m race in the Olympics, blamed troublesome spikes and a back injury for his rather poor show in the semifinals of the event.

The 24-year-old Binu, who raised hopes of making it to the final with a creditable timing of 45.48 seconds in the heats, managed 45.97 seconds in the semifinals at the Olympic Stadium here yesterday in front of a capacity crowd.

“The spikes gave me a problem. They were not suited to the new track laid down at the stadium. They gave me a back pain after the heats and the pain did affect my performance,” Binu said.

“I had expected a better performance in the semifinals. I know I could have done better but these problems hampered me”.

Binu had a rather poor start and a last ditch effort in the home stretch only helped him to finish seventh in the semifinals of his group.

“It was really disappointing. But at the same time, I am happy that I could reach the semifinal stage. The competition is very tough. I tried my best but that was not good enough,” he said. — PTI

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Malleswari ridicules Pratima’s allegations

New Delhi, August 22
Weightlifter Karnam Malleswari today termed the accusation of dope-tainted Pratima Kumari of having become “a victim of conspiracy” as the action of a guilty person trying to find a scapegoat for her misdemeanour.

“Anybody can say anything. It is very difficult to answer everything. You can check her past performances like how many internationals she has participated in and how many medals she has won and you will know,” the Sydney games bronze medallist said.

“It is common sense that because she has been caught she is trying to find a scapegoat,” the 29-year-old Malleswari said in response to weightlifting teammate Pratima’'s comments to mediapersons on her return last week.

Pratima, who tested positive for testosterone and returned without taking part in the 63kg division competition, had accused coaches Pal Singh Sandhu and Leonid Taranenko of hatching a conspiracy against her to enable Malleswari’s cause in the same category.

The disgraced lifter had also claimed that her positive dope test was the result of 20-25 injections administered to her spine by a Belarussian doctor to whom she was taken by Sandhu and Taranenko after she complained of back pain during the pre-games training stint in Minsk.

“Maybe, because both me and Malleswari are in the same weight category. Moreover, I had the best performance among the four Indian lifters competing at Athens,” Pratima had said.

Malleswari also denied Pratima’s allegation that Taranenko was appointed on her advise and the team of lifters was taken to Belarus on his advise. “It was the decision of the Indian Weightlifting Federation,” she said.

About the role of SAI laboratories, Malleswari said, “As far as I know, the laboratories are well-equipped. During the first Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad last year, samples were tested there.” The Delhi-based lifter, who failed to complete a single lift in Athens, said she had been detected with a “serious” spinal cord problem and now her first priority was to get it cured, but ruled out retirement plans.

“There is a fracture in my lumber vertebrae and I will first get it treated before beginning with my practise again,” she said.

“I will definitely compete in the next Olympics. But first I have to become medically fit,” she added. — PTI

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Greece loses bronze to doping

Athens, August 22
China picked up two Olympic gold medals to pull even with the USA with 20. Greece lost one of its bronze - to a doping case that has again embarrassed the host nation. And then there was the guy who shot at the wrong target.

While China's Zhang Yining won her second table tennis gold, taking the women's singles final, and Jia Zhanbo of China won gold in the men's 50-meter three-position rifle shooting, Greece was left watching its total go down when weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis was stripped of his bronze medal and expelled from the Olympics for a doping offense.

He was the first athlete at the Athens Games to lose a medal because of a failed drug test.

Sampanis, who was third in the 62-kilogram category a week ago after winning silvers at the previous two Olympics, was disqualified by the International Olympic Committee's executive board and expelled from the games.

Sampanis, 32, tested positive for twice the allowed amount of testosterone, the IOC said. Doctors established that the testosterone came from outside the body.

The decision was another big blow for Greece, just four days after top sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou pulled out of the games in a scandal over missed drug tests.

American Matt Emmons, who has already won a gold medal in shooting, gave Jia the top spot today when he incredibly aimed and fired at the wrong target with his final shot. That blew a commanding lead and allowed Jia to take gold.

Emmons, far in front after nine shots in the final, shot at the target in lane three while he was shooting in lane two.

When no score appeared on the electronic scoring device for his lane, he turned to officials and gestured that there was some sort of error.

"I shot," he appeared to say as three officials in red blazers approached.

The officials went back and huddled briefly before announcing that Emmons had cross-fired and had a score of zero for the last shot which dropped him into eighth position with a score of 1257.4 points. Jia had a score of 1,264.5.

If Emmons had fired at the right target, he would have needed only a 7 to win the gold. While judges indicated that Emmons hit a target on his final shot, albeit the wrong one, it was unclear if he scored a bullseye.

Although China and the USA were level on the gold table halfway after 9 of today's 25 medal events, the Americans had 50 overall medals, ahead of China's 43.

Among other events later today were the 100-meter men's final in athletics, the women's marathon, women's 10-meter diving, men's team epee in fencing and the men's singles tennis final.

On the rowing course, the USA ended 40 years of Olympic frustration, winning the men's eight, while Elisabeta Lipa-Oleniuc collected a record fifth gold medal as Romania successfully defended its women's title in the same event.

Lipa and the rest of the Romanian crew tailed the US women for the first 1,500 meters, then surged ahead in the final 500 to win in 6:17.70, 1.86 seconds ahead of the favoured Americans. The victory gave Lipa her fifth Olympic gold, something no other female rower has ever achieved.

Germany's women led from start to finish to collect their fifth straight title in the quadruple sculls, marking Kathrin Boron's fourth career gold medal. No one could match the defending Olympic champions in the men's lightweight double sculls - Poland's Tomasz Kucharski and Robert Sycz pulled out an early lead and held off France.

Vasileios Plymeros and Nikolaos Skiathitis gave Greece its first-ever Olympic rowing medal, springing past Denmark in the closing stages for the historic bronze. Denmark, two-time defending world champion in the lightweight four, added an Olympic victory while Russia took gold in the men's quadruple sculls. —AP

Disgraced duo

ATHENS: The two Greek sprinters caught up in an Olympic doping scandal asked an angry nation to believe in their innocence on Sunday.

Costas Kenteris, who was deprived of a chance to defend his 200 metres Olympic title and broke with his coach after missing a pre-Games drug test, accused people close to him of letting them down and said they were not told of the test appointment.

Drug testers from the International Olympic Committee sought the two athletes for anti-doping tests at the Olympic village on August 12, a day before the opening ceremony, but were unable to find them.

In a joint statement to a Greek newspaper with training partner Katerina Thanou, the 100 metres silver medallist four years ago, he said: “We have never used banned substances.” — Reuters

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New doping, judging scandals at games 
Arthur Spiegelman

Athens, August 22
Japan's Mizuki Nogushi won the first Olympic marathon raced from the historic site in 108 years on Sunday, but for Britain the race turned into heartbreak as its top runner quit in tears.

Amid a cascade of rising expectations, Britain had pinned its hopes of Olympic glory on 30-year-old marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe.

The race was won by Noguchi with a time of two hours, 26 minutes and 20 seconds.

It was the first Olympic marathon on the course since 1896, when the modern games began, and follows the course of a Greek runner who brought news to Athens of Persia's defeat in 490 BC.

But Radcliffe was not the only heartbreak of the night in an Olympics that has been marred by a rash of doping and judging scandals. Russia, too, was unnerved by one of its top athletes.

Women's shot put champion Irina Korzhanenko (30) was watched with awe by millions around the world when she won a gold medal last Wednesday at the first Olympic event to be held at Ancient Olympia in 1,600 years.

Now the head of the Russian Olympic Committee says she will have to forfeit that medal after testing positive for a banned steroid and that could lead to a purge of officials in Russian sports.

Meanwhile, in another scandal, fencing chiefs expelled a Hungarian referee and banned him for two years on Sunday after he mis-scored the men's team foil final and possibly cost China the gold.

Joszef Hidasi wrongly awarded winners Italy six points instead of China who went on to lose 45-42 in Saturday's gold medal decider, governing body (FIE) spokesman Jochen Faerber said.

It was the second case of a points error involving medals at the Olympics. Errors in gymnastics scoring cost South Korea's Yang Tae-young a gold, which went to American Paul Hamm. South Korea is in the process of protesting to try to get the gold.

Faerber said the FIE would not reallocate the medals and would not conduct an investigation for any foul play. "Why? If we ask him if he took money and he says not, what can we do? We don't have the authority to investigate his bank accounts .

Greek shame

Host nation Greece was shamed again at its own Olympics when bronze medal weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis was kicked out and stripped of his medal after failing a dope test.

The International Olympic Committee, which has promised "zero tolerance" for drug cheats, expelled Sampanis for testing positive for high levels of testosterone.

Russia's Svetlana Khorkina, who was second to American Carly Patterson in the women's all-round gymnastics competition, also feels cheated by the judges. She accused them of robbing her of the gold medal and said "everything was decided in advance."

"I'm just furious," Khorkina, who had been favourite for the coveted title, was quoted as saying in the daily Izvestia. "I knew well in advance, even before I stepped on the stage for my first event, that I was going to lose."

"I practically did everything right, still they just set me up and fleeced me," she said. Asked why she felt she was marked down by the judges, Khorkina said: "You better ask them. I think it's because I'm from Russia, not from America!"

Lost medals

Germany lost their two gold medals in the equestrian three-day eventing competition when France, Britain and the USA won an appeal to sport's highest appeal body.

"All I want to do now is stand in the corner and howl," said German equestrian team chief Reinhardt Wendt.

Shooting produced one of the most bizarre tales on Sunday.

China's Jia Zhanbo won the gold medal in the men's 50m rifle three-position target event after American Matthew Emmons fired at the wrong target as he looked set to win.

In Athens, age has proved no barrier to victory.

Romania's Elisabeta Lipa defied the passing of years and the cares of motherhood to row into Olympic history with a women's eights gold medal.

As she crossed the finish line at the Schinias lake, the 39-year-old consolidated her achievement as the most medalled Olympic rower of all time — now with eight in total — and also became the first woman to win five golds in the sport.

"I dedicate this medal to myself because I have worked so hard over the last four years for just six minutes of racing," said the rower in the "Mighty Mothers." — Reuters

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Russian winner fails drugs test

Russia's Irina Korzhanenko is all smiles after receiving the gold medal on Thursday
Russia's Irina Korzhanenko is all smiles after receiving the gold medal on Thursday. Korzhanenko has tested positive for an unidentified drug and has been stripped off her gold medal,  Olympic medical sources said on Sunday. — Reuters photo

Athens, August 22
Russian woman shot-putter Irina Korzhanenko, who won Olympic gold here has failed a drugs test, the president of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission Arne Ljungqvist said here today.

“Yes, she failed a drugs test. I think it was steroids, but that will be announced later after an IOC executive board meeting,” he told AFP.

Korzhanenko won the gold medal two days before the full athletics programme got underway in a competition north of Athens at Olympia, the birthplace of the Games.

She had previously been found guilty of doping and was stripped of the 1999 world indoor title for her offence.

“Of course we are very unhappy,” said Ljungqvist. “It’s very sad and it tarnishes what was intended to be a very symbolic event. — AFP

 

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Devers’ hurdles dream crashes

Athens, August 22
Two-time Olympic 100m champion Gail Devers dream of landing the 100m hurdles Olympic crown for the first time ended dramatically here today as she crashed out.
The 37-year-old American pulled up before the first hurdle of her first round heat and fell to the ground clutching her left foot which was heavily strapped ending realistically any hopes of her ever winning the title.

An American team official said that Devers had injured a calf muscle a week ago while training and had worn the strapping during the 100m. Devers had gone out in yesterday's 100m semifinals, though she said at the time nothing about the injury and claimed to be happy at getting some race practice in.

Devers speciality is the 100m hurdles but although she has won three outdoor world titles she appeared jinxed by the Olympics where the closest she came was in the 1992 edition.

She was in sight of doing the double of the 100m and the hurdles but stumbled after the final hurdle while leading and had to settle for fifth. — AFP

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Dutch, Aussies in semis; Pakistan knocked out

Athens, August 22
Eduardo Tubau scored a superb hat-trick as Spain whipped four-time world Champions Pakistan out of the Olympic hockey race handing them a 4-0 drubbing while defending champions Holland and Australia recorded contrasting victories to cruise into the semifinals from pool B here late last night.

In a fast-paced pool A match, Spain outplayed Pakistan in every department of the game and led 2-0 at half-time.

The former Asian champions, who missed two good chances in the late stages of the match, were lucky to have got away with a lighter punishment.

The defeat meant end of the road for the Pakistanis who now have six points from four matches and have to play Britain in their last fixture.

Spain now have eight points from four outings and take on lowly Egypt.

Spain were off to a blistering start as they rattled the Pakistanis with a flurry of attacks and surged ahead in the seventh minute through Tubau, who set up Pol Pablo Amat. Tubau cut through the unsettled defenders to sent the ball into the cage with a reverse hit.

Pakistanis survived some anxious moments as they kept away the rampaging Spaniards from scoring more goals till the 35th minute but just before the breather whistle, they conceded another goal.

This time Francisco Fabregas did the home work for Tubau, who added the finishing touch by sweeping the ball home (2-0).

Spain forced six penalty corners, three in each half, but their expert Santiago Freixa failed to convert any of them as he could not beat Pakistan goalkeeper Salman Akbar, who brought off some stunning saves.

The winners increased their tally in the sixth minute of the second session when Alejandro Fabergas set up a move for Tubau. The striker dribbled past the goalkeeper who fell while charging out and netted the ball from the right side to score his and team’s third goal.

Seven minutes before the final whistle, Freixa hammered the ball from the right into the goal to complete the tally for Spain.

Pakistan had chances to reduce the margin in the last 10 minutes but Rehan Butt’s move was brilliantly foiled by goalkeeper B. Herrera and Sohail Abbas muffed a penalty corner.

In pool B, Australia had to wage a grim battle to put it across South Africa 3-2 after being levelled 2-2 at half-time.

Holland recorded their fourth straight win as they overpowered Argentina 4-2 after leading 3-0 at half-time.

For Holland, Rob Reckers (17th), Karel Klaver (15th), Teake Teekema (26th) and Teun de Noojier (44th) scored a goal each. Mario Almada (37th) and Jorge Lombi (52nd) reduced the margin.

In other matches in pool B, Germany beat Britain 4-1 and now have 10 points (from four matches) and will play Korea in their last fixture.

Korea recorded the biggest win of the tournament so far, blanking Egypt 11-0 to keep their hopes alive. They have seven points from four outings. — UNI

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Henin-Hardenne clinches gold

Athens, August 22
It’s safe to say Justine Henin-Hardenne is back on top of her game. She’s healthy for the first time in months — and has a gold medal to prove it. In a No. 1 vs. No. 2 final that wasn’t really close, the top-ranked Henin-Hardenne overwhelmed France’s Amelie Mauresmo 6-3 6-3 last night to win Belgium’s first gold of the Olympics.

Sidelined by a viral infection, Henin-Hardenne came to Athens having won exactly one match in the past four months. She hadn’t played at all since May, when she was upset in the second round of the French Open as the defending champion.

But she put together six straight victories at the Olympics, dropping only one set along the way. That was in her semifinal against No. 3 Anastasia Myskina last night, when Henin-Hardenne trailed 5-1 in the third set before rallying to win 8-6.

Myskina didn’t recover and lost the bronze medal match to unseeded Alicia Molik of Australia 6-3 6-4.

“Emotionally, I was drained,” Myskina said. “I didn’t have any gas left. I couldn’t find any motivation.”

That never seems to be a problem for Henin-Hardenne, who did everything right against Mauresmo. — AP

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Onward with champion Phelps
Derek Parr

Athens, August 22
Tough news for aspiring Olympic swimming champions: Michael Phelps could be ruling the roost for another two games. The 19-year-old American performed great feats in the Athens pool, claiming six gold medals and two bronze to match the record aggregate for a single games.

''I had a blast doing it, being back where the modern Olympics started. It was incredible,'' Phelps said today.

At 15 at the 2000 Sydney games he was the youngest US Olympian since 1932. Time is on his side and he fancies the idea of continuing to 2012, particularly if New York wins the right to stage the games. The host city will be decided next year. He said he would relish a chance to ''swim my last meet, my last Olympic Games, in the UStA, if we get that bid.

''I hope to swim for the next eight or 10 years but we'll have to see how things pan out,'' he told reporters.

Phelps may also have another crack in Beijing in 2008 at matching the record seven golds achieved by compatriot Mark Spitz at the 1972 Munich Olympics, a feat which would net him $ 1 million from a swimwear company.

''I wouldn't count anything out. Just having the opportunity and the chance to be able to go for such an amazing record like that — not many people have that opportunity ... I will definitely keep all options open for the next four years.'' Phelps enjoyed Spitz being there when he won the 100 butterfly.

''Having someone who is such a swimming icon, a sport's legend, cheering you on is definitely very meaningful.''

Change is to come for the teenager dubbed ''The Baltimore Barracuda'' by one of his high school teachers. He is moving to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with his coach of eight years, Bob Bowman, before the year is out.

''I'm really looking forward to going up there and training with a new group of guys ... It's going to be a change of lifestyle, it's going to be the first opportunity to get out and experience the real world,'' he said.

He will soon be focusing on October's world short-course championships in Indianapolis but for now he is happy to relax his usual tough regimen. ''This is the first week I've ever had off from swimming, the start of the first week,'' he said.

He has also enjoyed splurging on his favourite fast-food — three times yesterday and breakfast today.

As for Athens and the gold medal podium experience: ''Every swimmer growing up wants to win an Olympic gold medal, they want to do the best they can do. It's something I always wanted.

''There's nothing like it. You get up there, your emotions go, the tears start coming to your eyes, you hear the Star Spangled Banner play. It's incredible. It's something that's going to live with you for ever.'' — Reuters

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Iraq storm into soccer semis

Athens, August 22
War-weary Iraq’s dream run in the Olympic football tournament carried them into the semi-finals after a spectacular overhead kick by Emad Mohammed gave his team a 1-0 win over Australia.

Mohammed’s 64th minute goal came after Australia failed to clear a cross, with the striker kicking the ball over his shoulder and to the left of goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic’s oustretched left hand.

Seven minutes earlier Iraqi goalkeeper Nour Sabri kept his team in the game with an equally exciting piece of play, doubling back to punch the ball off the line after Australia’s John Aloisi had delicately lobbed it over his head.

Australia had plenty of other chances in the second half, including a strike by acting captain Luke Wilkshire from 25 yards out that beat Sabri only to hit the cross bar. — AFP

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Lepennec takes Khorkina's asymmetric crown

Athens, August 22
Svetlana Khorkina's eight-year reign as Olympic asymmetric bars champion was dramatically ended by little-known Emilie Lepennec of France on Sunday after the Russian diva lost her grip on the apparatus.

Lepennec was in a league of her own as she effortlessly glided between the bars to display her complex manoeuvres and triumphed with a score of 9.687. Khorkina, who was hoping to became the first gymnast to win the same apparatus title at three successive games, finished last — Reuters

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Athens Diary
Empty stadia belie organisers' claim
Prabhjot Singh

Empty stadia notwithstanding, the Athens Olympics are getting appreciation from athletes, officials, media and tourists alike. Though the Athens Olympics Organising Committee (ATHOC) has been claiming that it has sold more tickets than Barcelona (1992) and Sydney (2000), yet attendance at venues does not corroborate their claim. Heat is taking its toll. At noon venues are empty.

The rush witnessed in the streets of Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney is conspicuous by its absence here. Except for late at night, all sub urban and metro trains run at usual pace with no extra visible rush.

The ATHOC has been claiming that the games have been the biggest, largest and most appreciated. A record number of countries(202), players (11,000), officials (5,500), mediapersons (21,500), broadcasters (16000) and volunteers (45,000) are participating.

Ticket prices range between 10 and 900 euro and more than 2.6 of 5.3 million tickets had been sold till the end of the first week. Tickets here, claims the ATHOC, are 34 per cent cheaper than those in Sydney.

The President of the International Olympic Committee, Dr Jacques Rogge has appealed to the Greeks to visit the venues in larger numbers. "More and more people should come forward and watch these games," he remarked indicating that perhaps response from the local people was not as should have been from a city and country which has given the world an event repeated every four years.

The response of the Indian community has been mainly restricted to hockey though a handful of Indian spectators are seen at venues featuring Indian athletes. Yesterday, the turn out at the India-New Zealand was more than expected. Some of ardent Indian fans refused to leave the stadium in protest against "controversial decisions by Spanish umpire."

Ultimately, the police had to escort young agitated Indians out of the stadium before Spanish umpire Xavier Adell could head for his hotel.

A couple of Indian officials are here to supervise the conduct of matches. Chandigarh's Satinder Sharma (hockey) and Gursharan Singh (badminton) are doing duty here.

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‘Wrong target’ costs USA gold

ATHENS: China’s Jia Zhanbo won the gold medal in the men’s 50-metre rifle three-position target event at the Athens Olympics on Sunday after American Matthew Emmons was ruled to have fired at the wrong target on the verge of victory.

Emmons was an almost uncatchable three points ahead as he took his very last shot but got an extraordinary score of zero with the final bullet and dropped out of contention.

There was initial confusion, with a puzzled Emmons checking his rifle, before the judges concluded he had fired at the target of the Austrian shooting in the lane to his right. Emmons was dropped from first to eighth place with the zero in the final round. — Reuters

Forged IDs

ATHENS: Two Australian Olympic team officials forged their identity cards altering their Games access rights, organisers said on Sunday. The Australians had tampered with the sign on their Olympic accreditation cards which allowed them unlimited access to the sports venues, they said.

“It is true that they had forged the infinity sign of their accreditation,” Games spokesman Michael Zacharatos told reporters. He did not say what action, if any, would be taken against the Australians. — Reuters

China ousted

ATHENS: China were eliminated from a chance at a medal in Olympic softball on Sunday, as Reika Utsugi drove in the game-winning run in extra innings to give Japan a 1-0 win in their semi-final.

It was the second-straight time that China-born Utsugi, who has become a Japanese citizen, has driven in the winning run to defeat the team from the land she once called home.

The two teams were scoreless through the regulation seven innings and went to a tie-break system where each team starts with a runner on second when they come up to bat. — Reuters

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India in must-win situation

Amsterdam, August 22
Having suffered a humiliating defeat in their opening game to Pakistan, India now find themselves in a must-win situation against none other than world champions Australia in the cricket tri-series here tomorrow.

The Indians have nothing to lose but their own waywardness which cost them heavily — a huge 66-run defeat to their arch-rivals who appear to be getting back into the groove after two wins on the trot against Sourav Ganguly’s men.

India almost certainly face a shut-out in the tournament and they must now win against Australia and then hope Pakistan would win against the world champions on Wednesday to remain in contention for the August 28 final.

The variables are heavily loaded against them and if they are not able to pull off a win tomorrow, they must prepare to cool their heels for the next five days before leaving for England for the NatWest Challenge and the Champions Trophy on August 29.

India are fervently hoping that their famous batting rediscovers its touch, for, further mishaps will prove disastrous to the men in blue in England.

If the last season was one in which all the batsmen were in the pink of form, the present season has shown them in terrible light with nobody able to hit the straps.

Virender Sehwag, Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif have all been struggling to put one decent score on the scoreboard.

To compound the issue, Sachin Tendulkar has been ruled out of the tournament because of a tennis elbow syndrome on his left arm.

It is a moot issue though how a batting line-up so short on confidence would find a measure of the Australian bowling which has a four-pronged pace attack in Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath and Michael Kasprowicz.

Australia will have an added spur to do well against the Indians since they would be coming over to India in October for a Test series and a good performance here would help them score some psychological points.

As coach John Wright has pointed out, the Indian team has almost lost the ability to chase any target batting second and their methods of playing spin from the crease, looking to hit shots square rather than straight, is costing them dear.

No batsman seems to be prepared to leave the crease and play lofted strokes or meet the spin on the pitch.

The team has neither been able to build partnerships nor the depth in the line-up is able to produce decent scores and that is a big worry.

Australia are at their full strength except for the absence of Adam Gilchrist who has stayed back home because of personal reasons.

Their batting is powerful, their bowling penetrative and fielding razor sharp — all in all an opponent which India in their current form do not look capable of taking on.

Teams (from):

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Darren Lehmann, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Ian Harvey, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz, Glenn McGrath, Shane Watson.

India: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Rohan Gavaskar, Anil Kumble, Laxmipathy Balaji, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Dinesh Karthik.

Umpires: David Shepherd and Steve Bucknor.

Third umpire: Jeremy Lloyds Match referee: Chris Broad. — PTI

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Injured Agarkar ruled out

Amsterdam, August 22
India’s injury woes mounted as Ajit Agarkar, who played against Pakistan in the cricket tri-series opener, was today ruled out of the crucial second league tie against world champions Australia tomorrow because of a side strain.

“Agarkar is unlikely to play in tomorrow’s match. He has a side strain”, team manager Gautam Dasgupta told PTI here today.

The wiry pace bowler had been omitted from the squad that took part in the Asia Cup tournament in Colombo last month and played his first ODI yesterday since the VB series in Australia in January-February.

However, there was some encouraging news about off spinner Harbhajan Singh. “He has recovered greatly and may find a place in the playing eleven,” the manager added.

The team had already been hit by the “tennis elbow” which ruled Sachin Tendulkar out of the entire tournament and by viral fever that had laid low Harbhajan and Ashish Nehra soon after the team’s arrival here.

Mohammed Kaif has also suffered a shoulder injury but should be able to play tomorrow. “Kaif has a shoulder strain, but he should be alright to play tomorrow,” Dasgupta said.

Nehra too is better today as compared to his condition two days ago, but he’s still not match-fit, according to the team manager. — PTI

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Zoysa bowls Lanka to 37-run win

Colombo, August 22
Left-arm seamer Nuwan Zoysa took career-best figures of 5 for 26 as Sri Lanka defeated South Africa by 37 runs in the second one-day international here today. Sri Lanka now leads the five-match series 2-0, having secured a thrilling three-wicket win in the opening match on Friday.

Defending a modest 213 runs to win, Sri Lanka got off to a stunning start as Zoysa ripped through the South African top order, taking four wickets within the space of five runs.

Sri Lanka

Gunawardene c Boucher b Ntini 21

Jayasuriya b Pollock 9

Atapattu c Boucher b Ntini 26

Sangakkara run out 63

Jayawardene c Boucher b Klusener 0

Dilshan c Pollock b Kallis 5

Chandana not out 61

Vaas run out 7

Lokuarachchi lbw b Kallis 3

Zoysa b Kallis 6

Extras (lb-6, nb-4, w-2) 12

Total (for nine wkts, 50 overs) 213

Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-45, 3-69, 4-72, 5-86, 6-179, 7-188, 8-198, 9-213.

Bowling: Shaun Pollock 10-1-35-1, Alan Dawson 8-0-46-0, Makhaya Ntini 10-1-50-2, Lance Klusener 8-0-26-1, Nicky Boje 8-0-30-0, Jacques Kallis 6-1-20-3.

South Africa

Smith b Zoysa 14

Gibbs b Zoysa 7

Boje c Dilshan b Zoysa 14

Kallis lbw b Zoysa 0

Rudolph c Sangakkara b Zoysa 4

Pollock c Atapattu b Dilshan 54

Boucher c Jayawardene b Lokuarachchi 4

Duminy lbw b Dilshan 22

Klusener c Jayasuriya b Dilshan 40

Dawson c Vaas b Dilshan 15

Ntini not out 0

Extras (w-2) 2

Total (all out, 48.5 overs) 176

Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-35, 3-36, 4-37, 5-40, 6-50, 7-94, 8-145, 9-176.

Bowling: Vaas 8-0-19-0, Zoysa 8-0-26-5, Lokuarachchi 7-0-17-1, Jayasuriya 5-0-22-0, Chandana 3-0-11-0, Herath 8-0-29-0, Dilshan 9.5-0-52-4. — AFP

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Prakash’s brace puts India in semis

New Delhi, August 22
R.C. Prakash displayed admirable opportunism as he struck a brace enabling India enter the semifinals with a 2-1 win over Myanmar in their LG Cup football tournament lung opener in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam today.

The Indians, striving to reclaim the title which they had won in 2002, led 1-0 at the breather before the Myanmarese drew level nine minutes before full time through Win Nawng before a modest gathering Thong Nhat stadium.

But the sigh of relief on the faces of the Myanmarese officials and players was shortlived as the wily Prakash netted the decisive goal only two minutes later to give India full points from the group A match.

The Mayanmarese, who had suffered a 0-5 humiliation against Vietnam in their first game on August 20, put up an improved performance against the Indians, but Prakash’s telling 83rd minute blow made their efforts fruitless, according to information received here. The result ensured India’s passage into the last four along with the hosts. — PTI

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Country

G

S

B

T

China

22

13

10

45

USA

20

18

12

50

Japan

12

5

7

24

Australia

11

8

11

30

Germany

10

9

12

31

Russia

7

13

15

35

France

7

8

7

22

Italy

7

6

6

19

Ukraine

6

2

5

13

Romania

6

2

2

10

South Korea

5

10

5

20

Britain

5

7

7

19

Netherlands

3

6

8

17

Greece

3

1

3

7

Turkey

3

0

1

4

Hungary

2

4

1

7

Belarus

2

3

5

10

Poland

2

2

3

7

Slovakia

2

2

1

5

Georgia

2

1

0

3

Thailand

2

0

2

4

Norway

2

0

0

2

New Zealand

2

0

0

2

Canada

1

2

1

4

Indonesia

1

1

2

4

South Africa

1

1

2

4

Zimbabwe

1

1

1

3

Ethiopia

1

1

0

2

Bulgaria

1

0

5

6

Denmark

1

0

5

6

Belgium

1

0

2

3

Brazil

1

0

2

3

Chile

1

0

1

2

Switzerland

1

0

1

2

Sweden

1

0

1

2

UAE

1

0

0

1

Spain

0

6

1

7

Austria

0

4

1

5

Czech Republic

0

3

2

5

North Korea

0

3

1

4

Cuba

0

2

6

8

Croatia

0

2

2

4

Slovenia

0

1

2

3

Estonia

0

1

1

2

Taiwan

0

1

1

2

Finland

0

1

0

1

India

0

1

0

1

Kazakhstan

0

1

0

1

Lithuania

0

1

0

1

Portugal

0

1

0

1

Serbia & Montenegro

0

1

0

1

Argentina

0

0

2

2

Azerbaijan

0

0

2

2

Colombia

0

0

1

1

Eritrea

0

0

1

1

Israel

0

0

1

1

Jamaica

0

0

1

1

Mongolia

0

0

1

1

Trinidad & Tobago

0

0

1

Top

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