Yao, Yi carry Chinese hopes
China's NBA players Yao Ming (L) and Yi Jianlian applaud following the national anthems ahead of their game against Serbia in the Stankovic Cup in Hangzhou on July 17 where China defeated Serbia 96-72. The return from injury of China's giant centre Yao has inspired the national team just weeks ahead of the Beijing Olympics and rekindled hopes of a Games medal. — AFP
Messi has ‘high hopes’
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Hamilton wins German GP
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India start with draw
Gautam Gambhir hits a stroke on the third day of the three-day practice match between India and Sri Lanka Board XI team in Colombo on Sunday. — AFP
De Villiers extends SA’s lead
Naldehra golf course set for a makeover
Australian swimmer Grant Hackett broke his own short-course 800 m freestyle world record in Melbourne on Sunday. Hackett will be aiming to become the first male swimmer to win the same event at three successive Games when he contests the freestyle in Beijing.
In 1936 Jesse Owens arrived in Berlin to compete for the USA in the Summer Olympics. Adolf Hitler was using the games to show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany. He had high hopes German athletes would dominate the games. Owens surprised many by winning four gold medals: 100m sprint, 200m sprint; long jump and as part of the 4 x 100 m relay team. US President Dwight D. Eisenhower acknowledged Owens' accomplishments, naming him an "Ambassador of Sports." He was given the name Jesse by a teacher in Cleveland who did not understand his country accent when the young boy said he was called J.C.
John Akii-Bua is the only Ugandan athlete to win an Olympic gold medal. He won the 400m hurdles at the Munich Olympics. A fan handed him a Ugandan flag and he began a 'victory lap’. Uganda govt did not like it and placed him under house arrest. He lived in Germany until the regime of Idi Amin ended in 1979.
Liu Xiang, although not yet fully fit, is still confident of defending his Olympic 110 metres hurdles title at next month’s Beijing Games. The world champion, who is 25, is China’s best chance of a track gold medal in Beijing but has had his preparations for the Aug. 8-24 Games disrupted by a hamstring injury. Cuba’s Dayron Robles confirmed his growing reputation by running 12.87 seconds in Ostrava on June 12, shaving a hundredth of a second off the mark Liu set in Lausanne in 2006.
Beijing, July 20
Chinese men's national team has a huge fan following at home, Yao and Yi being the most popular sport stars in the country.
After six years with the Houston Rockets, Yao has become the richest Chinese sports celebrity and a symbol of Chinese with a great success in the western nations.
Yi, on the other hand, was selected sixth overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and, after Yao, set off another wave on the NBA global market.
He was traded to the New Jersey Nets with Bobby Simons for Richard Jefferson in June last year. Besides his marketing potential, Yi proved he deserves a starting position in the national team with his eye-catching performances in his rookie year in the NBA.
Yi started 49 out of 66 matches for the Bucks, averaging 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 25 minutes.
He averaged 18.8 points and 8.3 rebounds in seven warm-up matches after he recovered from a knee injury.
As a slim power forward, Yi prefers to attack from low post and has delicate touch on mid-range shots, which is a perfect arrangement for the pivot Yao.
The experience of being one-year at NBA has built up Yi's defence and the dedication for the game.
Undoubtedly, Yao is still the leader of the squad and the one who carries the most expectations of the Chinese for a breakthrough at the Beijing Olympics. — Xinhua
Beijing, July 20
The Beijing Olympics only allow footballers under the age of 23, except for three over-age players for each side.
Messi, 21, and tagged as "new Maradona", says he is looking forward to represent his country in his last Olympics.
"The Olympic Games are something I will never be able to play in again and I am very excited at the prospect," Messi said earlier.
"There is no doubt that I will be there. I have really high hopes with the Olympic squad," he said although Barcelona wanted him to play for the Champions League preliminary.
Messi has emerged as the star player for Argentina in recent times. In 2005, he became the then-youngest-scorer for FC Barcelona club in a La Liga game against Albacete.
The same year in June, Messi led the Argentina to win the Under-20 World Cup and also clinched both Golden Ball and Golden Boot titles. In 2007, he was second in the list of FIFA World Player of the year, when he was only 20.
The Olympic tournament starts August 8 with the final slated for August 23. — Xinhua
Beijing, July 20
From rioting passengers angry at delayed flights to poor foreign language skills, Beijing’s tourism infrastructure faces a huge challenge dealing with their guests - the ones who have obtained hard-to-get visas, that is.
“The hardware will be there but the software will be lacking,” said Paul French, chief China analyst at research firm Access Asia. Beijing has always known it would have a big challenge on its hands, and started its preparations early, erecting more English signs, correcting the plethora of ‘Chinglish’ that dots the city, building new roads and expanding the subway network.
But a lot of the preparations are aimed at tour groups, which is traditionally how Chinese go on holiday, rather than individual tourists, the common preference of many foreign, especially Western, travellers.
“From the current statistics, there are less tour groups and rather more individual travellers,” admitted Xiong Yumei, deputy director of the Beijing Tourism Administration. “That creates even higher demands on language and reception work.” A much vaunted scheme to provide bilingual English-Chinese menus during the Games is only going to be available in certain hotels, 1,000 or so restaurants and at some tourist hot spots, Xiong said, so many eateries could effectively be off limits.
Of course, all these problems become moot if the tourists don’t show up in the numbers expected. Officials have already admitted that the swirl of negative publicity that has accompanied the run-up to the Olympics due to pollution, human rights, unrest in Tibet, visa controls and other issues, may put a lot of people off coming.
“I think China has a dreadful image at the moment. People are just thinking is this really going to be a pleasant trip?” Access Asia’s French said. “And I think they’re putting together pollution with problems with visas with just the whole strangeness of going there and the fact it doesn’t look very prepared,” he added.
Two issues have particularly concerned observers -- lack of English, and the hassle of dealing with Beijing’s often confusing and sometimes chaotic transport system.
“Moving about and getting especially to the more distant venues is going to be a challenge. There will be language barriers,” said Bruce McIndoe, president of iJET Intelligent Risks Systems, a travel and asset risk management firm.
The extensive bus network is hard to use without at least a basic understanding of Chinese, and buses crawl along at peak times. The subway, though having been expanded, does not cover many parts of the city and heaves with people at rush hour.
But Shu-Cherng Fang, a professor at the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University, thinks crowding and traffic jams will not be the main problem, as many Beijingers will simply be told to stay at home over the Games.
“The traffic is controllable. The real issue is the service concept,” he said. “You may have to take a taxi to the subway, and then take a bus to get there. The service integration is one of the things Beijing has never had before. This is going to be an issue,” added Fang, who is advising the Olympics organisers. — Reuters
Hockenheim, July 20
The 23-year-old Englishman, in his McLaren Mercedes-Benz, dominated the early stages and then, after being upset by two safety car interventions and some cautious team strategy, proved he could overtake anyone with a dazzling display of passing moves in the final laps.
To make up for time lost in the pits when he made an out-of-synch late stop, he showed his true speed by overtaking both Felipe Massa in a Ferrari and then Nelson Piquet in a Renault to regain the lead.
“I would have much preferred to have come in earlier (for my second pit stop) but the way it worked out I knew I had a lot of work to do. They let me stay out and I just had to push hard, as hard as I could,” said the Briton.
“I really pushed, right over the limit, but it was not enough and then I had to fight my way back. So a big thank-you to my McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen who saw I was faster and did not make life more difficult. I had two great fights with the other guys, it was very fair and it was exciting.”
Hamilton took the chequered flag 5.5 seconds ahead of Piquet who claimed the first podium of his career while Massa was third. Piquet, whose father won three world titles, admitted that even when he briefly led the race in the closing stages it would have been a huge job to stay in front. — AFP
Hockenheim, July 20
Chandhok ran in a solid second in the early laps, but soon closed up onto di Grassi’s tail with some quick laptimes. He slipstreamed past him at the Parabolika sweeper, and then battled wheel-to-wheel at the Spitzkehre and the Mercedes Arena, where Karun took the lead. After that, he came under intense pressure from Andi Zuber of Piquet Sports for the last 20 laps of the race, but Karun kept his cool for a fantastic victory for the iSport International team. “We’ve had some really bad luck on Sundays this year, so it was nice to finally win one,” Chandhok said. — UNI
Colombo, July 20
India lost Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid before reaching 129 for two in 31 overs as the match ended in a stalemate. Gambhir, who had scored just four in the first innings, was not out on a fluent 60 off 82 balls with the help of eight boundaries.
Sourav Ganguly was unbeaten on 22 off 45 balls that included just one boundary as the left-hander decided to spend maximum time in the middle. With Kumble deciding to give his bowlers a go at the Sri Lankans, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma removed off-colour Upul Tharanga (5) and Mahela Udawatte to reduce the hosts to 29 for two.Harbhajan Singh once again scalped a couple but Chamara Silva and Dammika Prasad put their foot down to ensure there was no batting collapse and set India a target of 276 runs.
India had a poor start as Sehwag returned after a run-a-ball 14 even though Gambhir was determined to make the best of the opportunity. Dravid had lasted just 10 balls in the first innings and he had a prolonged 47-ball stay today. With Sachin Tendulkar hitting 69 in the first innings to prove that there is no cobweb in his batting, the think-tank promoted Ganguly, who had a forgettable first innings.
SL Board XI (1st innings): 224
India (1st innings) dec for 8: 196
SL Board XI (2nd innings):
Tharanga c Karthik b Zaheer 5
Udawatte c Harbhajan b Ishant 15
Mubarak c Sehwag b Harbhajan 41
Kapugedera lbw b Patel 22
Kandamby c Tendulkar
b Harbhajan 27
C Silva not out 59
J Silva run out 13
K Prasad not out 43
Extras (b-7, nb-15): 22
Total (for 6 dec in 55 overs): 247
Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-29, 3-96, 4-100, 5-139, 6-173.
Bowling: Khan 13-2-61-1, Sharma 9-1-36-1, Patel 9-1-33-1, Harbhajan 16-4-53-2, Ganguly 1-0-12-0, Sehwag 6-1-41-0, Gambhir 1-0-4-0.
India (2nd innings):
Sehwag c Kapugedera b Prasad 14
Gambhir not out 60
Dravid b Herath 26
Ganguly not out 22
Extras (b-5, nb-2): 7
Total (for 2 wkts in 31 overs): 129
Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-87.
Bowling: de Silva 7-0-35-0, Prasad 6-1-28-1, Kapugedera 3-1-4-0, Prasanna 8-0-31-0, Herath 6-0-23-1, Mubarak 1-0-3-0. — PTI
Leeds, July 20
Mark Boucher (34) and Morne Morkel (0) were the only wickets to fall between lunch and tea as the Proteas, replying to England's 203, seemed well placed to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series. Ashwell Prince departed in the morning session for 149.
After Prince’s dismissal, de Villiers took up the challenge to eliminate England’s chances of an unlikely victory. The century would have been especially satisfying for de Villiers after South Africa coach Mickey Arthur revealed that the batsman had been abused by the England players for his role in the claimed catch at lunch on Friday.
De Villiers slowly grew in confidence and a square cut for four after lunch even beat the fielder sweeping the cover boundary to the rope. A drive on the up through extra-cover against Andrew Flintoff to go to 132 was further evidence of his momentum. For the most part de Villiers, so often an aggressor, had played a supporting role to Prince and then Boucher. On 70 overnight, he was stuck on 99 for 14 balls.
England first innings 203
South Africa first innings (322-4 overnight)
Smith c Strauss b Flintoff 44
McKenzie c Flintoff b Anderson 15
Amla lbw b Pattinson 38
Kallis b Anderson 4
Prince c Ambrose b Pattinson 149
De Villiers not out 158
Boucher b Anderson 34
M. Morkel b Panesar 0
Harris not out 11
Extras: (b-2, lb-17, w-1, nb-7.) 27
Total: (7 wickets, 166 overs) 480
Fall of wickets: 1-51, 2-69, 3-76, 4-143, 5-355, 6-422, 7-427.
Bowling: Anderson 43-9-126-3, Pattinson 28-2-90-2, Flintoff 40-12-77-1, Broad 25-2-96-0, Panesar 26-4-58-1, Pietersen 4-0-14-0.
Naldehra, July 20
The Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC), which runs the golf course, has conceptualised a Rs.50 million ($1.2 mn) project to add to its fairways and greens and add other facilities to attract high-end tourists, especially foreigners.
There are even plans to construct a helipad at Naldehra, 22 km from state capital Shimla, and to operate helicopter services to the golf course from the Annandale helipad here.
“Over the years, golf has emerged as the most vital segment of the tourism industry and we are working overtime to get our share of the pie,” HPTDC managing director Ram Subhag Singh told IANS.
The golf course owes its existence to Lord Curzon, who, when he was Viceroy, fell in love with the place and decided to develop the huge natural glade, surrounded by cedars, into a golf course. So enchanted was Curzon by the place that he gave his daughter Alexandra “Naldehra” as her second name.
As part of the re-development, work is under way to realign the Shimla-Tattpani state highway that winds its way through the golf course. The highway will now skirt the golf course and its length will be about 1.30 km.
The HPTDC has already acquired a large chunk of land adjacent to the golf course for developing additional greens and fairways. The department has invited golf course designers to suggest how the re-development should take place.
Toward this end, Col K.D. Bagga (retd), a Delhi-based golf course designer, visited Naldehra recently “and gave us valuable suggestions”, Singh said. Though Naldehra is a nine-hole course, it can also be played as an 18-hole course on the reverse. The sixth hole is the longest at 370 yards and the fifth is the shortest at 115 yards.
“The landscape of the course makes the game challenging. I come here every year to play golf,” said Jaskaran Singh Batth, an avid golfer from Muzaffarnagar town in Uttar Pradesh. He has been playing golf here for more than three decades. — IANS