SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Wrestlers hope for favourable draw

Athens, August 25
Following the elimination of Mukesh Khatri in the first round of Greco-Roman wrestling, Indian wrestlers are hoping for a favourable draw in the freestyle competition, the weighing-in of which starts tomorrow.


Russia’s Gueidar Mamedaliev (top) grapples with Greece’s Artiom Kiouregkian during their Greco-Roman wrestling (under 55kg) semifinal in Athens on Wednesday. Mamedaliev, who defeated India’s Mukesh Khatri in the first round, won 7-2.
— Reuters photo

Russia’s Gueidar Mamedaliev (top) grapples with Greece’s Artiom Kiouregkian during their Greco-Roman wrestling (under 55kg) semifinal in Athens

Paraguay halt Iraq’s dream run
Thessaloniki, August 25
Iraq’s fairytale Olympic run came to a shuddering halt yesterday with a 3-1 defeat by Paraguay in the semi-finals of the men’s soccer tournament. Striker Jose Cardozo fired two first-half goals to stun a raucous section of around 3,000 Iraq fans in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

El Guerrouj ends jinx at last

Athens, August 25
Hicham El Guerrouj confirmed his place in the pantheon of athletics legends at last here yesterday after winning the one title eluding him, the Olympic 1,500 metres title.


Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj crosses the finish line to win the 1500 metres final on Tuesday. El Guerrouj won in a time of three minutes 34.18 seconds, ahead of Kenya’s Bernard Lagat and Portugal’s Rui Silva.
— Reuters photo

Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj crosses the finish line to win the 1500 metres final



Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva kisses the pole after winning the gold medal in women's pole vault on Tuesday
Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva kisses the pole after winning the gold medal in women's pole vault on Tuesday. Isinbayeva set a world record of 4.91 metres.
— Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 

India slump to yet another defeat
Holland to clash with Australia for gold
Athens, August 25
Indian hockey team's Olympic woes continued unabated as they slumped to a 0-3 loss against arch-rivals Pakistan in a classification match here today.
A series of poor showings saw India slumping to their fourth defeat in six matches of the competition so far which ended their hopes of qualifying for this year's Champions Trophy to be held in Pakistan in December.

Holland beat Germany, enter final
Athens, August 25
Holland overcame a fighting Germany 3-2 in the semifinal to set themselves on course for a hat-trick of Olympic men's hockey titles here today. Holland, gold medallists in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 2000 Sydney games, rallied back superbly after being a goal down as early in the third minute to move into the final, where they would meet the winners of the second semifinal between Australia and Spain.

Austria’s Kate Allen bites the gold medal won by her in the women’s triathlon in Athens
Austria’s Kate Allen bites the gold medal won by her in the women’s triathlon in Athens on Wednesday. Allen clocked two hours four minutes 43.45 seconds. Loretta Harrop of Australia took the silver and Susan Williams of the USA won the bronze.

Bahamas’ Tonique Williams-Darling crosses the finish line to win the women’s 400 metres final ahead of Mexico’'s Ana Guevara in Athens
Bahamas’ Tonique Williams-Darling (R) crosses the finish line to win the women’s 400 metres final ahead of Mexico’'s Ana Guevara in Athens on Tuesday. Williams-Darling won in a time of 49.41 seconds.

Misty May and Kerri Walsh of the USA rejoice after winning the beach volleyball gold medal in Athens
Misty May (R) and Kerri Walsh of the USA rejoice after winning the beach volleyball gold medal in Athens on Tuesday. May and Walsh defeated Brazil’s Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar in the final.
— Reuters photos

Holland, Germany eves in hockey final
Athens, August 25

Holland and Germany battled it out against their determined rivals before stroking them out in the penalty shootouts to set up a title clash in the Olympic women’s hockey tournament.

Athens Diary
IOC takes tough stand on doping
The 2004 Olympics will be long remembered not only for their “homecoming” but also because of the aggressive posture taken by the International Olympic Committee against drug cheats.

SA, Great Britain record easy wins
Athens, August 25
Three goals by Greg Nicol enabled South Africa to outclass Egypt 5-1 while Great Britain downed Argentina 4-1 in the placing matches of the Olympic hockey tournament here today.

Sebrle rallies to win decathlon gold
Athens, August 25
Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic cemented his position as the world’s greatest all-round athlete when he won the Olympic decathlon gold medal with an emphatic late surge.

Cuba on course for 4th straight volleyball gold
Athens, August 25

Cuba remained on course for a fourth successive Olympic gold medal after overcoming world champions Italy in the women’s volleyball quarter-finals.

Fridman wins first gold for Israel
Athens, August 25
Windsurfer Gal Fridman created Olympic history today by winning Israel’s first Olympic gold medal in any sport.

Shot putter refuses to return gold
Moscow, August 25
Russia’s Irina Korzhanenko, who won the Olympic shot put before being stripped of her gold after failing a drugs test, insisted today that she would not give back her medal.

Officials sweat to shift stricken Goliath
Athens, August 25
Weightlifting officials had their own strength put to the test today after injured Olympic Norwegian super-heavyweight lifter Stian Grimseth had to be hoisted from the stage.

Jones makes belated entry
Athens, August 25
What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago triple Olympic champion Marion Jones was relishing motherhood, enjoying her enforced leisure and looking forward to competing in the Athens Olympics.

Russia’s appeal rejected
Athens, August 25
An International Association of Athletics Federations jury of appeal rejected a protest by the Russian federation after the Olympic 100 metres hurdles final.

Rain knocks India out of tri-series
Amsterdam, August 25

The third and last league match of the cricket tri-series between Pakistan and Australia was abandoned here today without a ball being bowled due to rain, dashing India’s already slim hopes of reaching the final.

Atapattu leads Lanka to win
Dambulla, August 25
Marvan Atapattu slammed a solid 97 not out on a difficult pitch as Sri Lanka wrapped up the one-day series with a four-wicket victory over South Africa in the third match here today.

Punjab take on SPIC in semifinal
Chennai, August 25
Punjab take on SPIC while Maharashtra clash with Tamil Nadu Cricket Association President’s XI in the semifinals of the Buchi Babu Cricket tournament here.

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Wrestlers hope for favourable draw
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Athens, August 25
Following the elimination of Mukesh Khatri in the first round of Greco-Roman wrestling, Indian wrestlers are hoping for a favourable draw in the freestyle competition, the weighing-in of which starts tomorrow.

The wrestlers, who trained in Bulgaria before arriving here two days ago, are in good shape, says Sukhchain Singh Cheema, a former national champion and the father of Palwinder Cheema, who is competing in the 120kg category.

“Though Palwinder is in the top six bracket in his weight category, he can be a medal prospect if he gets a favourable draw,” asserts Sukhchain Singh, holding that he has no complaints for not being made a member of the Indian contingent.

“I have coached Palwinder throughout. The Indian Wrestling Federation supported my application for inclusion in the national contingent as his coach. I felt slighted when the ministry cleared the personal coach of Mukesh Khatri for Athens but rejected my application. Initially, the IWF had objected to Khatri’s application, ” he said..

“Anyway, I have come here on my own. And I will be watching all bouts,” he added.

Under the new rules, the entire competition, including the weighing-in, has to be completed in three days. Bouts, irrespective of their number, have to be finished in two days.

India’s best bets are Palwinder Cheema (120 kg) and Sunil Kumar (60 kg).

The only time India won a wrestling medal at the Olympics was in Helsinki, 1952, when K. Jadhav won a bronze in the bantamweight category.

In all India have six wrestlers in the freestyle category. Besides Palwinder and Sunil Kumar, they are Anuj Kumar (84 kg), Yogeshwar Dutt (55 kg), Sujeet Mann (74 kg) and Ramesh Kumar (66 kg).

Traditionally, Indian wrestlers do well in lighter weight categories. In the heavier weight categories, wrestlers from Mongolia, Russia, Bulgaria, China, Cuba and even the USA have always enjoyed undisputed supremacy.

Palwinder, who won the Commonwealth championship and was also a medallist in the last Commonwealth Games, has broken that myth by doing well in the heaviest weight category.

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Paraguay halt Iraq’s dream run

Paraguay’s Fredy Bareiro gets past Iraq’s Jabar Haidar during a soccer semifinal at the Kaftatzoglio stadium in Thessaloniki
Paraguay’s Fredy Bareiro (R) gets past Iraq’s Jabar Haidar during their Olympic semifinal match at Kaftatzoglio stadium in Thessaloniki on Tuesday. Paraguay won 3-1 and will play Argentina in the final. — Reuters photo

Thessaloniki, August 25
Iraq’s fairytale Olympic run came to a shuddering halt yesterday with a 3-1 defeat by Paraguay in the semi-finals of the men’s soccer tournament.

Striker Jose Cardozo fired two first-half goals to stun a raucous section of around 3,000 Iraq fans in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

Fredy Bareiro added a third in the 68th minute for Paraguay, who will face South American rivals Argentina in Saturday’s final after the favourites swept past Italy 3-0 in Athens.

Substitute Razzaq Farhan pulled a goal back for Iraq in the 83rd minute, but it came too late to make any real difference to the outcome.

Iraq can still win only the second Olympic medal in the war-scarred country’s history if they overcome the Italians in the third-place match on Friday. Their only previous Olympic medal was a weightlifting bronze at the 1960 Rome Games.

‘’It is still a great achievement for us to play for the bronze medal after all the difficulties in Iraq,’’ said Iraqi coach Adnan Hamd.

‘’We are sad about all the women and children who have died in Iraq. The team would like to say that, as Iraqis, we are brothers with all people in the world — even the Americans.’’

For vanquished Iraq, there was honour in defeat, having endured severe hardship simply to qualify for the Athens Games.

Once, Iraqi players were tortured by former soccer chief Uday Hussein, son of toppled dictator Saddam, for playing badly.

These days they share a bumpy training pitch with grazing sheep in Baghdad such is their desperate financial plight.

Surviving on hand-outs from the international community, Iraq’s improbable Olympic run had previously sparked scenes of wild celebration on the streets of the Iraqi capital, scene of frequent guerrilla attacks.

‘’I’m very proud of my team. It’s great that the world got to see that we are not just people with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. We also know how to compete in the Olympics,’’ said Rasheed Rumayed, 24, who watched the match on a television set at a Baghdad sidewalk market surrounded by fruit and vegetables.

‘’No other team in the world could have done half of what Iraq has done in these circumstances,’’ said Adnan Khadim, 26, watching the match at another sidewalk cafe in Baghdad.

Argentina, meanwhile, are one win away from halting a drought of more than half a century without an Olympic gold medal.

The South Americans have not won gold in any sport since the 1952 Helsinki Games but their footballers, runners-up in Atlanta eight years ago, are favourites to end that barren spell.

Paraguay coach Carlos Jara quickly sought to shift the pressure onto Argentina.

‘’We are enjoying a dream that has become a reality,’’ he said. ‘’Argentina are a great side and we will just hope to rise to that level in the final.’’ — Reuters

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El Guerrouj ends jinx at last

Athens, August 25
Hicham El Guerrouj confirmed his place in the pantheon of athletics legends at last here yesterday after winning the one title eluding him, the Olympic 1,500 metres title.

The 29-year-old Moroccan ended his jinx after a thrilling duel with Kenyan Bernard Lagat to end eight years of misery and permitted him to at last tear up a photograph of him falling at the bell in the 1996 final.

Another thrilling duel down the stretch saw Tonique Williams-Darling of the Bahamas edge out world 400m champion Ana Guevara of Mexico and secure her status as the world number one.

There was more drama in the women’s 100m hurdles as hot favourite and world champion Perdita Felicien came to grief after the first hurdle, bringing down Russia’s Irina Shevchenko. However, the Canadian would have been hard pressed to win if she had stayed on her feet as American Joanna Hayes took the tape breaking a 16-year-old Olympic record.

The Russians later appealed to have the race rerun but it was thrown out.

However, the Russians were smiling not so long after as Yelena Isinbayeva won the Olympic Games women’s pole vault gold medal and then set a new world record of 4.91 metres.

All this helped to push into the shadows the earlier news of a second Olympic titlewinner Robert Fazekas being stripped of his discus title becauee he tried to give somebody else’s urine sample.

But it was El Guerrouj who set the pulses racing as at last he cracked the one thing missing from his CV.

“The last few metres I just refused to let him go,” El Guerrouj said as he reflected on the cliffhanger, shoulder to shoulder battle to the line with the Kenyan.

“I was so desperate for the title that I had to hold on such was the desire in me to win.

“It’s amazing to think that in Sydney I was crying tears of sadness and here I am crying tears of joy. I’m like a five year-old with a toy.”

El Guerrouj said that each time he felt Lagat on his shoulder he thought it would be a repeat of his defeat in the 2000 Olympics.

“I felt Lagat coming again and again. At one point I thought this was Sydney all over again.

“He kept coming back at me like an avalanche but when Lagat closed on me for the last time I just found that extra energy.” Lagat said that he was a spent force by the time the Moroccan regained the ground on him. “I went out hard and at the end I had nothing left,” said the 29-year-old.

“I couldn’t have asked any more of myself. El Guerrouj came here to show that nobody’s ever going to be able to count him out and he proved that. I congratulate him. He’s a great champion.”

Guevara, the most popular sportsperson in Mexico, was consoled by telephone by the Mexican President Vicente Fox after her defeat which came after a year blighted by injuries.

Williams Darling, 28, who had ended Guevara’s two-year unbeaten streak with victory in Rome in July, won in 49.41 seconds while Guevara took silver in 49.56sec and Russia’s Natalya Antyukh won bronze in a time of 49.89sec.

“I just ran the race I wanted to and it all worked out well,” said the champion. “In the home straight, I was side by side with Ana. She wanted that gold medal, but so did I.”

Guevara said the people back home would understand the reasons for her defeat.

“Since I was a child I dreamed of being in the Olympics and being a hero for my country in sports,” Guevara said. “But this day was different and I think all the country will understand it was not my best performance.Williams-Darling came into the straight in the lead but Guevara fought back and for 60 metres they were locked in a no-quarter tussle. However, Williams-Darling finally got the extra spurt she needed with around 30m to go and Guevara had no response, though she battled gamely on to take the silver.”

Hayes was oblivious to the carnage to her right as Felicien and the Russian came down.

The 27-year-old timed 12.37 seconds to make her the sixth fastest performer of all time while Olena Krasovska of Ukraine won silver and Melissa Morrison of the USA took bronze. A distraught Felicien said it would take a long time for her to rid herself of the psychological scars.

“The first hurdle came and I reached for it,” she said. “Before I knew it I was on the ground. It is going to take four years before it sinks in.

If she needs any inspiration then she only has to look to El Guerrouj. — AFP

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India slump to yet another defeat
Holland to clash with Australia for gold
MR Mishra

Athens, August 25
Indian hockey team's Olympic woes continued unabated as they slumped to a 0-3 loss against arch-rivals Pakistan in a classification match here today.

A series of poor showings saw India slumping to their fourth defeat in six matches of the competition so far which ended their hopes of qualifying for this year's Champions Trophy to be held in Pakistan in December.

The loss also meant India could not improve on their Sydney Olympics seventh place finish and now fight it out for 7 and 8 place with South Korea in their final game on Friday.

Pakistan's win also completed the final line-up for the Champions Trophy, the four Olympics semifinalists — Holland, Australia, Germany and Spain — besides Pakistan as hosts and New Zealand, who beat South Korea 4-3 in another play-off today.

After a barren first half, Pakistan emerged victorious with three goals in the second half with Tariq Aziz (43rd), Sohail Abbas (60th) and Shabbir Muhammed (68th) sounding the board.

The eight-time gold medallists never looked threatening as they continued to make several unforced errors in both the halfs.

The Indians did not seem to have learnt anything from their earlier outings, in which they were blanked by most of the teams, including minnows New Zealand, and paid the price for some very poor trapping and passing.

The famed forward-line comprising star players like Dhanraj Pillay and Gagan Ajit Singh played like novices as they struggled for ball control.

The Indian striker never looked menacing as they continuously failed to penetrate the rival defence.

Pakistan had more opportunities to take the lead as they won three penalty corners in the first 35 minutes. But these attempts from setpieces yielded no results as drag flick expert Sohail Abbas was rendered ineffective by some good work by Indian goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza.

Holland overcame a fighting Germany 3-2 in the semifinal to set themselves on course for a hat-trick of Olympic men's titles here today.

Holland, gold medallists in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 2000 Sydney games, rallied back superbly after being a goal down as early in the third minute to move into the final.

Australia beat Spain 6-3 on Wednesday to win a place in the final.

They will play the Netherlands, the defending champions, in the final on Friday.

Australia made the finals three times in the past but have yet to win a gold medal to add to their haul of three silvers and three bronzes. — PTI

The results

First semifinal

Netherlands 3

Germany 2

Second semifinal

Australia 6

Spain 3

Classification matches 5-8

First match

New Zealand 4

South Korea 3

Second match

Pakistan 3

India 0

Classification matches 9-12

First match

South Africa 5

Egypt 1

Second match

Britain 4

Argentina 1

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Holland beat Germany, enter final
MR Mishra

Athens, August 25
Holland overcame a fighting Germany 3-2 in the semifinal to set themselves on course for a hat-trick of Olympic men's hockey titles here today.

Holland, gold medallists in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 2000 Sydney games, rallied back superbly after being a goal down as early in the third minute to move into the final, where they would meet the winners of the second semifinal between Australia and Spain.

Proving their superiority in the clash of the European powerhosues, Holland slammed home through Teake Taekema (6th minute), Marten Eikelboom (47th) and Teun de Nooijer (51st).

Germany's spirited challenge was made possible thorugh the strikes of Matthias Witthaus, who gave them the lead early on, and Christoph Bechmann (59th) .

The semifinal got to a shocking start with Germany taking the lead in the third minute when they slammed home from their very first move into the opposition circle.

The celebrations following the Witthaus goal had hardly died down when Holland struck back through a penalty stroke which they earned when German skipper Florian Kunj was hit on the leg on the goal-line from the first penalty corner of the match.

One goal each by both Holland and Germany in the first six minutes raised expectations of an exciting game, but surprisingly both the teams got into the shell, preferring to play safe instead of going full throttle.

A defensive approach made the forwards work hard to penetrate into each other's circle, which was finally broken when Holland took the lead following Eikelboom's field goal 12 minutes into the second half.

An attack down the right saw Holland getting a free hit on the right backline and then the hit across was mis-trapped by German defenders which was swept in by Eikelboom.

Four minutes later, Holland stretched the lead when Nooijer after a fine move on the left in combination with Eikelboom slammed home to put his side in the box seat.

Germany bounced back strongly when Bechmann reduced the margin following some sloopy defensive work by the Dutch defenders.

Bechmann was left unmarked in the circle on the left post and a long pass found him alone for an easy, but well executed tap in.

Though Germany pressed hard for an equaliser with time running out, the Dutch defence kept their rival forwards at bay.

Three goals by Greg Nicol enabled South Africa to outclass Egypt 5-1 while Great Britain downed Argentina 4-1 in the placing matches.

South Africa will now play Britain to decided the 9th/10th place while Argentina faces Egypt for the 11th/12th slot.

In a match which turned out to be a battle for African supremacy, South Africa led 2-1 at half-time. — PTI

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Holland, Germany eves in hockey final

Athens, August 25
Holland and Germany battled it out against their determined rivals before stroking them out in the penalty shootouts to set up a title clash in the Olympic women’s hockey tournament.

Holland put it across fancied Argentina 6-4 via tie breaker and the second semi-final between Germany and China also was decided through penalty shootout in which the Euorpean champions stroked out the Asian challeger 4-3.

The semifinals were tale of missed chances and both Argentina and China paid heavy price for muffing virtual sitters.

In a reversal of 2002 World Cup final, Holland pipped Argentina for a gold medal chance. Having finished third in last two Olympics, this will be the first time in last 20 years that the Dutch are in the final. They last won the gold in 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

In a fast-paced semifinal, both the teams were level 2-2 at the end of the regulation period and failed to score in the 15-minute extra time leading to tie-breaker shootout.

Holland converted four in a row as against two by their rivals, who missed second and fourth attempts.

Argentina, ranked number one in the world, started on an atacking note and took the lead in the 17th minute with a spectacular goal by Augstina Soledad Garcia. The forawrd grabbed a pass from Luciana Paula Aymar in the middle of the circle and in a nearly 360 degree spinning motion, sent it low into the net with a reverse hit.

Argentina went into the second session with an 1-0 lead.

The Dutch went on the offensive in the second session and in the sixth minute, they drew parity when Slyvia Karrers deflectted the ball home following a measured cross from Maartje Scheepstra(1-1).

Four minutes later, it was Holland’s turn to take the lead when Mijntje Donners slammed a penalty corner home beating the outstretched goalkeeper Mariela Antoniska all ends up (2-1).

Just two minutes were left in the match when Latin American champion drew parity. The equaliser was scored by captain Maria Magdalena Aicega who took a direct hit off a variation and sent it high into the net.

The extra-time failed to produce the result and in the tie-breaker, Janneke Schopman, Ageeth Boomgaardt, Mijntje Donners and Lieve van Kessel converted their strokes.

For Argentina, Maria Margalot and Luciana Paula Aymar were on the target while Maria Rognoni and Ayelen Lara Stepnik failed with their strokes.

In the second semi-final, the Chinese have themselves to blame for their defeat as they muffed good chance against Germany in the regulation period.

The two teams failed to score in the 70 minutes of play and then could not break the deadlock in the 15 minutes of extra time.

The final is slated for tomorrow. — UNI

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Athens Diary
IOC takes tough stand on doping
Prabhjot Singh

The 2004 Olympics will be long remembered not only for their “homecoming” but also because of the aggressive posture taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) against drug cheats.

Almost every day one athlete or the other is thrown out of the games for failing the dope test. Weightlifting and athletics are the main sports which have been hitting the headlines on the doping front. The International Weightlifting Federation came out with a list of five lifters on August 17 and added two subsequently.

India, too, had its share as two of its women weightlifters, Pratima Kumari and Sanamacha Chanu, were thrown out of the games.

Though the IOC claims that the fight against doping is its number one priority, yet the number of athletes testing positive for taking prohibitory drugs to enhance their performance has been on the rise.

Shot putter Irina Korzhanenko of Russia, who won the women’s shot put competition held at Olympia, failed the dope test.

Another woman shot putter, Olga Shchukina (Uzbekistan), tested positive for clenbuterol. Korzhanenko tested positive for stanozolol, a prohibited anabolic agent.

The gold medallist in men’s discus throw, Robert Fazekas from Hungary, refused a complete urine sample after the final of the event.

High jumper Aleksey Lesnichly from Belarus, who tested positive for clenbuterol, a prohibited anabolic agent, has also thrown out of the games.

Weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis of Greece lost his bronze medal. He had tested positive for testosterone.

Pratima Kumari and Sanamacha Chanu, too, had tested positive for testosterone.

Until yesterday, 2015 tests had been conducted. By thumb rule, the top four in each track and field event are tested for doping.

During the last edition of the games in Sydney, 2,052 urine and 307 blood samples were taken, of which there were 11 cases for exclusion from the games.

If one looks back, the highest number of positive cases for doping was reported in 1984 at Los Angeles, where 12 athletes had to go. In Seoul, the number dropped to 10.

In Mexico, 1968, only one case was recorded. In Munich, the cases increased to seven. The number of athletes who tested positive for drugs in 1976 at Montreal swelled further to 11.

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SA, Great Britain record easy wins

Athens, August 25
Three goals by Greg Nicol enabled South Africa to outclass Egypt 5-1 while Great Britain downed Argentina 4-1 in the placing matches of the Olympic hockey tournament here today.

South Africa will now play Britain to decided the 9th/10th place while Argentina faces Egypt for the 11th/12th slot.

In a match which turned out to be a battle for African supermacy, South Africa led 2-1 at half-time.

The South Africans surged ahead in the second minute of the match when Greg Nicol converted a penalty corner after a clean one-two with Iain Evans at the top of the circle.

Five minutes later, the winners increased their tally when Nicol shot home his and the team’s second goal. He was set up by Craig Fulton in the circle and his shot was right on target.

However, Egypt hit back with some very incisive counter-attacks and midway through this session, they earned a stroke. Adnan Ahmed made no mistake in converting it as his flick beat goalkeeper David Staniforth.

South Africa, after being under pressure for some time, retaliated and dented the Egyptian citadel in the 50th minute when Emile Smith deflected home a powerful hit from Ryan Ravenscorft to take the tally to 3-1.

They added another goal four minutes later to consolidate their lead when turning an interception into a counter-attack, Nicol deflected a cross from Gregg Clark into the net from the left.

South Africa completed the tally and sealed the match firmly in their favour when three minutes before the hooter, Nicol scored his third and team’s fifth as he slipped the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper Mohd El Mallah.

In another match, Britain scored two goals in each half to post a 4-1 win over Argentina. The Latin Americans reduced the margin in the second session. — UNI

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Sebrle rallies to win decathlon gold

Czech Republic’s Roman Sebrle celebrates after clinching the decathlon gold medal in Athens
Czech Republic’s Roman Sebrle celebrates after clinching the decathlon gold medal in Athens on Tuesday. Sebrle garnered 8,893 points to break Briton Daley Thompson’s 20-year-old Olympic record (8,847). Bryan Clay of the USA took the silver with 8,820 points while Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Karpov (8,725) won the bronze. — Reuters photo

Athens, August 25
Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic cemented his position as the world’s greatest all-round athlete when he won the Olympic decathlon gold medal with an emphatic late surge.

The world-record holder and only man to break the 9,000 points barrier had trailed Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Karpov for much of the 10-discipline test yesterday but hit the front with a spectacular 70.52-metre javelin throw in the penultimate event.

That turned a 46-point deficit on Karpov into a 63-point lead over Bryan Clay of the USA and the experienced 29-year-old then safely negotiated the 1,500 metres to add gold to the silver he won in Sydney four years ago.

His winning total of 8,893 points was an Olympic record, beating Briton Daley Thompson’s 8,847 from 1984.

‘’Four years ago I went to Sydney thinking about a medal, this time I came committed for gold, that was the difference,’’ Sebrle said.

Clay, 24, took the silver with 8,820 to continue his remarkable progress over the last two years while the 23-year-old Karpov got the bronze with 8,725. Briton Dean Macey, back in action after three injury-ravaged years, repeated his fourth-place finish from Sydney with 8,414 points.

Karpov started the day well extending his lead to 166 points with exceptional performances in the 110 metres hurdles and discus — both the best in the field.

Sebrle kept in touch, however, his 14.05-second hurdles and 48.72-metre discus scoring well, and was able to cut the deficit to a mere 46 points in a marathon four-hour pole vault with 5.00 metres to the 4.60 of Karpov.

‘’It was a tough competition but after the pole vault I believed I would win and after the 1,500 I really believed,’’ said Sebrle.

The gold medal was effectively settled, as expected, in the javelin, when he threw 70.52 metres for 897 points.

Karpov could manage only 55.54 for a meagre 671, allowing Clay to sweep past him with a personal best 69.71 (885 points). It even gave the young a American a shot at gold but he would have needed to beat the world record holder by nearly 10 seconds in the 1,500 — an unlikely scenario as Sebrle’s best over the distance bettered Clay’s by 17 seconds.

Instead the American chose to shadow the master clear of danger for the three-and-three-quarter laps.

Sebrle finished in four minutes 40.01 seconds, 17 seconds short of what he needed for 9,000 points, but he was clearly delighted as he accepted the congratulations of his weary “rivals”. — Reuters

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Cuba on course for 4th straight volleyball gold

Athens, August 25
Cuba remained on course for a fourth successive Olympic gold medal after overcoming world champions Italy in the women’s volleyball quarter-finals.

The champions came from behind to edge the tie of the round 3-2 (25-23 14-25 22-25 25-14 15-12) and advance to face China in the last four.

Yesterday’s match was intriguing, pitting the Cuban power game against the Italians’ flair at the Peace & Friendship Stadium.

A wayward Elisa Togut spike handed Cuba the opening set but then Italy took control of the match, winning the next two sets.

The turning point came midway through the fourth set when the Cubans started to eradicate the errors that had blighted them until then.

“The first thing was to fight and fight with as much courage as we could, which we Cubans always do,’’ said spiker Nancy Carrilo de la Paz about their stirring comeback.

China, the 2003 World Cup and World Grand Prix winners, had stormed past Japan 3-0 (25-20 25-22 25-20) in an afternoon quarter-final.

Japan out-spiked China 44-36 but made 10 more errors and China had a clear advantage in blocking and service winners.

Cuba will take a psychological advantage into that match after beating China in their qualification pool.

Grand Prix 2004 winners Brazil remain the only unbeaten team in the competition after a hard-fought 3-2 (25-22 25-20 22-25 25-27 15-6) victory against the USA.

Inspired by veterans captain Fernanda Venturini, libero Arlene Xavier and spiker Virna Dias — who boast a combined age of 99 — Brazil rediscovered their form after throwing away a 2-0 lead to run away with the final set.

“After the first two sets, USA served and blocked very well and we didn’t receive very well so we had many difficulties attacking,’’ said Dias.

“But in the final set we served better and played with more strength and anger.’’

In the semi-finals they face Russia who enjoyed a comprehensive 3-0 (25-17 25-15 25-22) victory over South Korea. The Asians could not cope with 6 ft 8 in Ekaterina Gamova and 6 ft 4 in Lioubov Shashkova who landed 35 spikes between them. — Reuters

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Fridman wins first gold for Israel

Athens, August 25
Windsurfer Gal Fridman created Olympic history today by winning Israel’s first Olympic gold medal in any sport.

Fridman (28) won the men’s Mistral title after finishing second in the final race.

Israel first entered the Games in 1952 in Helsinki and it had to wait 40 years for its first medal, on the judo mat in Barcelona.

Fridman, who won a bronze in 1996, was not selected for the Sydney Games and gave up sailing for two years before returning to win the world title in 2002.

Greek Nikos Kaklamanakis, the host nation’s symbol of hope for the Games after lighting the 2004 Olympic Torch, produced a late surge to grab silver. Briton Nick Dempsey took bronze after winning the last race.

Overnight leader Ricardo Santos from Brazil trailed in 17th to finish out of the medals. — Reuters

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Shot putter refuses to return gold

Moscow, August 25
Russia’s Irina Korzhanenko, who won the Olympic shot put before being stripped of her gold after failing a drugs test, insisted today that she would not give back her medal.

“It’s so sweet to crucify the Olympic champion to prove that the war against doping is going on,” she told the Izvestia newspaper.

“I don’t believe either the results of the Greek laboratory or the activity of the anti-doping agency WADA. I will not return my gold medal. I won it and I’m the Olympic champion. I’m completely sure I did not use any doping.”

Korzhanenko said she was innocent and labelled her dope test failure as “political provocation”.

The shot putter said she had successfully passed numerous dope tests in the current season, adding that she was deeply shocked with the results of the test in Athens.

“I’m an experienced athlete. I have already served a two-year ban, which was a violation of all existing rules,” Korzhanenko said.

“I suspect that my failure to pass the test is somebody’s mistake or it was done deliberately. I can give a 100 per cent, a 200-per cent guarantee that I did not use any banned drugs.” — AFP

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Officials sweat to shift stricken Goliath

Athens, August 25
Weightlifting officials had their own strength put to the test today after injured Olympic Norwegian super-heavyweight lifter Stian Grimseth had to be hoisted from the stage.

Grimseth, who is 6ft 2in and weighs in at a knee-buckling 158kg, crumbled to the floor with what appeared to be a strained thigh during his first attempt in the clean and jerk of the B group.

But after medical staff had Grimseth safely strapped into a stretcher, they were left weighty problem — how to remove the massive Norwegian from the stage.

Calling for help, five members of the medical staff pushed Grimseth like a stalled car to the edge of the platform where they were joined by five more games staff who strained to get the lifter on to the floor and through a door.

None of the weightlifters lent a hand to shift Grimseth, one of the heaviest competitors in the games. — Reuters

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Jones makes belated entry

Athens, August 25
What a difference a year makes.

Twelve months ago triple Olympic champion Marion Jones was relishing motherhood, enjoying her enforced leisure and looking forward to competing in the Athens Olympics.

Now she will enter the Games today almost by the back door after the BALCO laboratory scandal which has sent shockwaves through her sport.

Jones, who won a record five medals in Sydney, has qualified only for the long jump in Athens although she could run one or both relays. The long jump qualifying is scheduled for Wednesday evening.

In sharp contrast to Sydney, where she was the focus of attention after announcing she was trying to go one better than Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis by winning five gold medals, Jones has given no news conferences or interviews. Her silence is understandable. — Reuters

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Russia’s appeal rejected

Athens, August 25
An International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) jury of appeal rejected a protest by the Russian federation after the Olympic 100 metres hurdles final.

The Russians filed a protest after Irina Shevchenko was felled at the first barrier in Tuesday’s race by pre-race favourite Perdita Felicien of Canada, who veered into the adjoining lane and fell to the track. — Reuters

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Rain knocks India out of tri-series

Amsterdam, August 25
The third and last league match of the cricket tri-series between Pakistan and Australia was abandoned here today without a ball being bowled due to rain, dashing India’s already slim hopes of reaching the final.

Heavy downpour since last evening continued till this morning and the umpires were left with no option but to call of the game, which they did an hour before scheduled start at 10.30 am (2.00 pm IST).

The washout ended whatever little hopes India had of making it to the final slated for Saturday. India, who lost to Pakistan by 66 runs in their opening game and saw their second game with Ausralia being washed out after the halfway stage, were relying on a huge Pakistan win to sneak into the final.

But Pakistan and Australia, who shared three points each from this abandoned game, made it to the final by virtue of having more points than India.

As compared to India’s three points, Pakistan finished with nine points while the world champions logged six points.

With more rain forecast in the next couple of days, it is doubtful whether the final also would be played at all. — PTI

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Atapattu leads Lanka to win

Dambulla, August 25
Marvan Atapattu slammed a solid 97 not out on a difficult pitch as Sri Lanka wrapped up the one-day series with a four-wicket victory over South Africa in the third match here today.

Sri Lanka, already 2-0 up in the five-match series, were indebted to their captain for surpassing South Africa's modest total of 191 in the day-night game on a slow turning pitch where stroke-making was never easy.

Atapattu was the lone Sri Lankan batsman to adjust himself to the conditions, patiently waiting for the loose deliveries to punish. He held the innings together after the fall of two early wickets, hitting eight fours in his 49th half-century.

Fast bowlers Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener (2-36) bowled with remarkable control, but failed to stop an Atapattu-inspired Sri Lanka. Pollock became the seventh bowler in the world to take 300 wickets in one-dayers when he dismissed Sanath Jayasuriya.

South Africa were let down by fielding as they dropped a couple of catches at vital stages and missed run-out chances with erratic throws at the stumps.

The tourists were in the fray when they reduced Sri Lanka to 145 for six in 41 overs before being thwarted by Atapattu, who continued to keep the rival bowlers at bay with his sensible batting.

Scoreboard

South Africa

Smith c Jayasuriya b Vaas 16

Gibbs st Sangakkara b Herath 49

Klusener b Zoysa 0

Kallis c Sangakkara b Herath 52

Rudolph lbw b Dilshan 18

Boucher c Dilshan b Herath 7

Pollock c Sangakkara b Lokuarachchi 14

Duminy lbw b Lokuarachchi 3

Boje st Sangakkara b Dilshan 10

Dawson c Herath b Dilshan 11

Ntini not out 0

Extras (lb 6, w 5) 11

Total (all out, 50 overs) 191

Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-50, 3-91, 4-144, 5-147, 6-164, 7-170, 8-170, 9-189.

Bowling: Vaas 8-1-24-1, Zoysa 8-0-33-1, Jayasuriya 7-1-26-0, Dilshan 7-0-25-3, Chandana 7-0-26-0, Herath 8-1-28-3, Lokuarachchi 5-0-23-2.

Sri Lanka:

Gunawardene lbw b Dawson 5

Jayasuriya c Gibbs b Pollock 11

Atapattu not out 97

Sangakkara st Boucher b Boje 14

Jayawardene b Duminy 21

Dilshan b Klusener 3

Chandana c Duminy b Klusener 6

Vaas not out 16

Extras (b3, lb2, nb7, w7) 19

Total (6 wkts, 47.4 overs) 192

Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-34, 3-65, 4-111, 5-126, 6-145

Bowling: Pollock 9-2-22-1, Dawson 3-0-19-1, Ntini 4-0-16-0, Kallis 6-1-20-0, Boje 9.4-0-46-1, Klusener 9-0-36-2, Duminy 7-0-28-1. — AFP

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Punjab take on SPIC in semifinal

Chennai, August 25
Punjab take on SPIC while Maharashtra clash with Tamil Nadu Cricket Association President’s XI in the semifinals of the Buchi Babu Cricket tournament here.

In their respective last three-day league matches which concluded today, Maharashtra scored a 49-run win over Districts XI, Delhi lost to TNCA by 105 runs, while SPIC inflicted an innings and 45 run defeat on Assam. Punjab have made the grade four days ago defeating both Bengal and Sahara XI from Group-B. The three-day semifinals of 90 overs in the first innings and 45 in the second will be played from Friday.

Maharashtra, who resumed at overnight score of 106 for 6, made 168 for 7 in their allotted 45 overs, setting a target of 288 for the Districts XI, who were allout for 238 in 45 overs.

Left arm spinner, Kiran Adhav (5/93), Sachin Nair (2/21) and Suyash Burkul (3/62) were the wicket takers for the winners.

Earlier, Nikhil Pande remained unbeaten on 42 in Maharashtra’s second essay. Chasing a target of 278 for a win, Delhi, 67 for 2 in 15 overs yesterday, were bundled out for 172 in 34.3 overs in 80 minutes of play this morning. TNCA’s M R Srinivas (3/20 Raghuram (3/57) and Sunil Viswanathan (3/21) shone well.

Assam, who followed on after being all out for 209 in reply to SPIC’s 393 for 6 in 90 overs, were 139 for 7 in the allotted 45 overs this morning, conceding an innings and 45 run win to SPIC. — PTI

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COUNTRY GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL

USA

25

28

20

73

China

24

16

12

52

Japan

15

8

10

33

Australia

14

10

14

38

France

10

7

9

26

Russia

9

18

21

48

Germany

9

10

13

32

Italy

8

6

8

22

Romania

8

4

4

16

Ukraine

8

3

6

17

Britain

7

8

8

23

South Korea

6

10

5

21

Greece

5

3

2

10

Netherlands

3

7

8

18

Hungary

3

6

1

10

Sweden

3

0

2

5

Turkey

3

0

1

4

Canada

2

4

1

7

Belarus

2

3

6

11

Poland

2

2

4

8

Slovakia

2

2

1

5

Bulgaria

2

1

5

8

Ethiopia

2

1

1

4

Georgia

2

1

0

3

Thailand

2

0

2

4

Chile

2

0

1

3

Norway

2

0

0

2

New Zealand

2

0

0

2

Spain

1

7

3

11

Austria

1

4

1

6

Kenya

1

4

1

6

Czech Republic

1

3

3

7

Cuba

1

1

6

8

Brazil

1

1

2

4

Indonesia

1

1

2

4

South Africa

1

1

2

4

Zimbabwe

1

1

1

3

Lithuania

1

1

0

2

Morocco

1

1

0

2

Denmark

1

0

5

6

Belgium

1

0

2

3

Israel

1

0

1

2

Switzerland

1

0

1

2

Bahamas

1

0

0

1

Cameroon

1

0

0

1

UAE

1

0

0

1

North Korea

0

3

1

4

Croatia

0

2

2

4

Portugal

0

2

1

3

Slovenia

0

1

3

4

Estonia

0

1

2

3

Kazakhstan

0

1

1

2

Taiwan

0

1

1

2

Finland

0

1

0

1

Hong Kong

0

1

0

1

India

0

1

0

1

Latvia

0

1

0

1

Mexico

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

Jamaica

0

0

1

1

Mongolia

0

0

1

1

Trinidad & Tobago

0

0

1

1

Venezuela

0

0

1

1

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OLYMPIC BRIEFS

Driver returns lost medal
ATHENS:
A Dutch rower at the Olympics did what millions of people do every year, he left something in the back of a taxi.
Diederik Simon’s case was more serious than most — he left behind his silver medal. Thanks to an honest taxi driver, Simon will soon be reunited with the medal he won on Sunday as part of the Dutch men’s eights. The driver found the medal in his cab after organisers put out an emergency call to track it down. — Reuters

Games going well, says IOC
ATHENS:
Daily coordination meetings between Olympics officials and Athens organisers were cancelled on Wednesday because the games are “running excellently”, the International Olympic Committee said.
IOC chief Jacques Rogge “confirmed that there is no need for these meetings to continue. The games are running excellently and there will be no formal meetings,” said IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies. Organisers are in charge of running the daily operations of the games. — AP

Queen springs a surprise
ATHENS:
Journalists were surprised when Greek-born Queen Sofia of Spain popped into the press bar for a lemon soda to quench her thirst after two hours of touring Olympic media facilities.
“These are truly marvellous days,” said Sofia, who visited the bar on Tuesday. She arrived in Athens one day before the opening ceremony is set to stay in Greece until the games wrap up on Sunday. The Spanish queen was carrying a tiny digital camera and snapped endlessly at all aspects that caught her interest. — DPA

Mexico thanks Ana Guevara
MEXICO CITY:
Despite disappointment that the gold slipped away, Mexican officials and citizens exploded in a wave of gratitude on Wednesday after Ana Guevara’s silver medal in the women’s 400m that may very well be the only medal Mexico earns at the games.
“Thank-you Ana!” was the headline of the afternoon newspaper La Segunda de Ovaciones, showing Guevara as she sent a kiss to scores of Mexican fans gathered at the stadium in Athens. “It wasn’t gold, but Guevara, in any case gave her country a silver medal after the continuing failures of about 100 athletes in the Mexican delegation,” the newspaper said. — DPA
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