Mary settles for bronze
‘I am sorry’
Tintu in 800m semifinals
Devendro, Mary’s idol
Sally is the fastest hurdler
Brazil eye maiden soccer Gold
Grapplers set for action
Mary settles for bronze
MC Mary Kom, trailblazing India and Manipur boxer, can almost do magic. She stops punches on her face and barely flinches, she delivers them with lightning speed and great accuracy. But she's no magician, she isn't a master of alchemy - she needed to be nothing but that as she attempted to change her bronze into gold or silver on Wednesday.
It wasn't to be, and Mary had to be satisfied with the bronze medal she'd ensured for herself by reaching the semifinals.
To beat Great Britain's Nicola Adams in the semifinals, Mary needed to be a few inches taller, she needed to be much quicker on her feet and with her fists. She needed to be someone else - someone other than a 46kg, 5ft 2in fighter who moved up from 46-48kg to 51kg category to be able to compete in the London Olympic Games.
Mary won her first two rounds without much bother but, confronted with a superior 51kg boxer today, it was amply evident that she was out of her class today. Nicola, three inches taller than Mary, was quicker on her feet and her punches were heavier. Nicola also has a baffling ability to change from orthodox to southpaw stance during a fight - Mary was thoroughly confounded by this British package.
Mary, in red, was the early aggressor, but Nicola was the first to score. Just 45 seconds into the first round, as the two boxers got into a clinch, the home boxer was able to pull away and quickly land a left jab, followed by a strong right-left combo on Mary's face. That put Nicola 3-1 in the first round.
That one exchange set the tone for the rest of the round, rest of the bout. The two-point advantage proved impossible to overturn - as hard as she tried, Mary found it practically impossible to reach Nicola. The British boxer was very quick on her feet, and Mary had to dive into her, becoming extremely vulnerable herself, as she desperately tried to score points. Almost every time, Nicola was able to take a step back and launch a successful counter on the Indian.
Mary was down 2-5 after the second round - her initial attacks were met by greater aggression from Nicola, who landed another strong combination, and later an uppercut that must have burnt Mary's face.
Nicola's attacks came from a height and distance that Mary was unable to close; Mary was increasingly ragged and untidy in her boxing. Nicola was scoring with simple, straight punches while Mary's hooks were becoming wild and more ineffective. It was 8-4 for Nicola after the third round, and the writing was on the wall for Mary.
Mary did land a good right-left combination in the final round, but Nicola was able to counter, and also keep away from harm's way. Later, Nicola said that she'd been ready for her legendary Indian opponent. "I had studied her bouts, and I knew what I had to do," she said. "We had a strategy in place, and it worked perfectly for us."
Mary has an amazing past: Difficult beginnings, tough initial steps in her chosen sport - boxing, of all things. She's a five-time world champion. But also in her past is her existence as a small boxer, the lightest boxer that can be. On Wednesday, her past caught up with Mary - she was unable to be better than third in her adopted weight category. She said sorry for this, but she has to be nothing but proud of what she'd done.
‘I am sorry’
After losing her semifinal quite comprehensively, MC Mary Kom didn't seem unnecessarily perturbed. She did say she was sorry which, again, was quite unnecessary, but she knew that she'd run up against a superior force, Nicola Adams. She had lost 6-11 on points - she didn't come close enough to fret and wonder what might have happened if she'd won a point or two more.
She was asked to wonder what she'd do if, four years later at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, she was given a chance to compete in her favourite 46-48kg category, in which she's been a world champion on five occasions? She didn't have any doubt about that one. "If 48kg is included, I'll be the champion, I can say proudly," Mary told The Tribune.
Four years, though, is quite a long time - Mary is 29, and she had come back from retirement only to take a crack at an Olympic Games medal when women's boxing was included on the London roster.
She says she misses her twin sons and longs to go back to them - family reason may decide her future course of action. "I don't know how big my sons are! Are they this high, or taller, I don't know," she said, gesturing with her hand.
Mary is a feisty character, and she wasn't crushed by her defeat to Nicola. "I don't have much experience in this category," she said. "I did my training, I tried to analyse the opponents' techniques, from videos and whatever I could get on the internet."`
"At the last World Championship, I fought with Nicola in the quarterfinals," Mary said. "That was a good fight - I lost by only two points." Then, raising her arms and voice, Mary nearly yelled in wonder: "And today I lost by five points!" She was either embarrassed or amazed at the lack of punches she could throw and land on her bigger adversary. But the result of the bout didn't really surprise her - it was her lack of scoring punches that did.
"My coach was saying, attack, attack," Mary said. "I did well in the third and fourth rounds, but I was not getting a point?! What to do? I was not able to hit well, I missed many times. But I didn't get badly beaten."
Mary said she'd been lifted by the support she's got, and the medal she's got after desperately and sometimes hopelessly yearning for it for years. "After so many years, after so much fighting, I've got an Olympic medal," she said. "Everyone is wishing me well, and I'm really happy, I'm giving my best. I'm trying to do my best."
"This is boxing," Mary said. "You can make mistakes. You try to remain cool, but you make mistakes. If not, then everyone will win. I tried to cover my mistakes, but..."
"I'm coming back with a small medal, I did my best in the semifinal, but I'm sorry I can't reach the final," she said.
Her medal is hardly small - it's big. It would be massive if it can inspire youngsters to take up boxing, and inspire the oldies in "mainland" India to learn the difference between Assam and Manipur.
I don't have much experience in this category. I did my training, I tried to analyse the opponents' techniques, from videos and whatever I could get on the internet.
London, August 8
Luka clocked 2:01.75secs to finish third in heat number two behind reigning world champion Mariya Savinova (2:01.56) of Russia and Alice Schmidt (2:01.65) of United States at the Olympic Stadium here. The top three in each of the six heats and the best six others advance to the semifinals to be held tomorrow.
Luka, who started at lane number four, was running at second for some time in the first lap but at the beginning of home stretch she was at fourth and it looked like she would not get the automatic qualification for the semifinals.
Luka was a tad slower from her season's best of 2:01.09 and she will have to slice a few seconds from today's effort if she wants to qualify for the final round. Luka, who has a personal best of 1:59.17, clocked 13th best time in the heats, going into the semifinals, which will be competed by 24 runners out of which eight make it to final. — PTI
Devendro, Mary’s idol
Chandigarh, August 8
His name is Ngangom Dingko Singh.
Highly talented and technical to the T, but no less temperamental, he had, by the dint of his pluck, brought a much higher-ranked Wong Prages Sontaya of the host country to his knees. If that wasn't enough, he had boisterously pumped his fist to the tricolour-draped chest and silenced the partisan crowds.
It may sound dramatic now, but at that time such bravado from an Indian boxer was unimaginable.
Public memory is short but for sportspersons who shed blood sweat, blood and tears, people like Dingko Singh are not born every day. He is somebody who inspired Devendro into the cruel sport of boxing, and he's the name that goads Mary Kom to Olympic heights.
For, Dingko didn't stop at taking punches from the biggest names, he believed in giving back, always.
'Badla loonga' is a phrase often associated with him, much like it is with the 'Bollywood's angry young man'. It was this streak of vengeance that flared up every time he saw a vain smirk in the opponent's corner. He would turn the results, almost invariably. The gold medal at Bangkok Asian Games too was on somewhat similar lines.
Dropped from the squad due to some inexplicable reasons, he made an entry at the last moment. Once inside the ring, Dingko, with fire in the belly, etched his name into the Indian boxing pantheon that night.
Mary Kom still remembers that particular fight and Devendro, then just seven years old, never gets tired of hearing that heroic tale.
Dingko, however, prefers to sidestep the oft-quoted tale. "Today's generation of boxers are doing much better. Mary Kom and Devendro have been fantastic but others too have done well by reaching the quarterfinal stages," he says.
Dingko's reaction speed and feints are still discussed by many national coaches. The mercurial boxer, now 33, is an icon to those who are on the threshold of achieving iconic status themselves. It is no surprise that the 'bacha' is very much of the same mould. Same fast hands, same reaction speed and that identical quirky temperament. Ask him for comparisons and Devendro scotches off the talk with, "He is an icon for every boxer."
There may be very few like Dingko with such passion for boxing. His son 'Dingson' (literally 'Dingko's son') is also an extension of his passion for the game and he is eagerly waiting for his redemption. "What I could not do, he will do for me. He is just 11 and I am waiting for him to turn 12, that is when he makes his entry into the ring. Apne hathon se taiyyar karunga usko…," he says passionately.
Stephanie Rice shot to fame with two gold medals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. But when she followed it up with two world records and three gold medals at the Beijing Games, the world braced itself for the rise of a swimming sensation. But injuries have taken their toll and Rice, in an exclusive talk, discusses a disappointing London Olympics campaign, her future plans and more.
What were your expectations after the struggling through some of the heats?
I wondered if I was good enough for the podium. I knew I had to go out and give my best, with nothing left. I wanted to finish knowing I could not do any better.
How did you feel after finishing fourth in the 200m individual medley?
I am very disappointed. I messed things with the fly and the back, I did not come home as well as I probably would have liked to. I am disappointed with the time, the result and the placing, but I am proud of the effort I put into the race and the way I have constructed the race. In a lot of ways I walk away disappointed with the results, but proud of the way I got through.
Were your well-known injury problems an issue?
The shoulder does not really give me a lot of trouble. When we are tapering and backing off, it seems to handle the load a lot better. So no excuses for the way I prepared for these last few weeks. It was far from ideal and a lot different to my preparation for Beijing, but I never wanted to compare these two events. I was doing other training and definitely was doing more than before Beijing, hoping it will pay up.
What do you make of the Chinese sensation Ye Shiwen?
She comes home like a gun in freestyle. I didn't see her final leg, I was way behind. It was out of control. If I was up with her I would have had no chance. She is insane at freestyle, but I think my other strokes are better than hers.
How disappointed were you to finish sixth in the 400m individual medley?
I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn't think I'd go as slow as I did. I'm disappointed with the time (4:35.49). I wanted to give it everything I had, and I did that. Under the circumstances it proves I'm not fit enough to back up two quality swims. I thought I put my race together well, better than the heats. But I can't make excuses, I'd have loved to have gone faster. I hope I haven't let anyone down. It was so tough.
Were you expecting to do better at 200m than 400m?
The 200m and the 400m are completely different. My training has been more geared towards the 200m, and I haven't been able to get the kilometers in for the 400m. I'm disappointed with the time, but not with the effort that I put in. I raced the best I could, so I'm not walking away with regret. I would have loved to have done better, for Australia and for everyone who has helped me.
How were your preparations for London 2012?
I knew I was not as ready as I would have liked to have been. I've just been really open minded and wanting to enjoy the experience. It was exciting to get out in front of the crowd and have the opportunity to win, but maybe the Australian public expected us to do better than we have, because we usually do so well in swimming at the Olympics. In Beijing we had a more experienced team, and this time it's a lot younger and still developing. I think in a few years time this team will be ready to go.
Where do you go from here? Will you compete in Brazil in 2016 Olympics?
That is a long way off and I have not decided. I'm not going to make a decision while I am still in the emotion of these Olympics, and I am going to need surgery to continue. So whatever decision I make will have to be the right one. It's a really tough position as I have to analyze what I want to do. I love swimming, I love competing and representing Australia. But if the preparation is going to be like the one I just had, there is no way in the world I can keep it up. It is really tough. — PMG
That (2016 olympics) is a long way off and I have not decided. I'm not going to make a decision while I am still in the emotion of these Olympics, and I am going to need surgery to continue. So whatever decision I make will have to be the right one.
London, August 8
The rain fell in buckets as the runners lined up on the blocks but Pearson, who had been pre-race favourite, got off to a flying start with Harper and Wells close behind, Xinhua reported.
"It's a dream. Relief was the first thing I felt and then shock. I'm just going through the emotions. I really wanted this. I've worked so hard for two years. To see my name on the scoreboard, I just can't believe it," said Pearson, who said she had been inspired by the great Australian athlete, Cathy Freeman.
Harper had run a personal best of 12.46 in her semifinal earlier in the evening, but it was Wells, who was Pearson's closest pursuer in the opening metres of the race.
Harper then found an extra turn of speed and was closing on the Australian, but Pearson timed her dip to the line to perfection. She had run 12.39, the fastest time of the year to date in her semifinal and she went even faster to claim gold. There was an agonising wait for the results' confimation and when it was declared, Pearson threw herself to the ground in ecstasy. It was Australia's first track and field gold of the London Games.
Makhloufi produced a stunning run in the closing stages of the 1,500 meters final.
Makhoufi finished ahead of Leonel Manzano of the USA and Morocco's Abdaali Iguider and deserved his prize for an audacious final lap which saw him sprint away from the rest of the field. The Algerian was a slightly controversial runner given that Monday had seen him excluded from the competition for allegedly not making an effort in the 800 metres heats. However, on appeal he was reinstated after a doctor confirmed he had a legitimate medical reason for retiring from the race. Whatever the problem, he made a miraculous recovery, although he insisted there was a problem."I have a problem with my left leg and it may need surgery," said Makhoufi. "It was the will of God, yesterday I was out, today I was in," he added.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan trio of reigning Olympics and World champion Asbel Kiprop, Daegu-runner up Silas Kiplagat and Kiplimo Chepseba all disappointed with Kiplagat seventh, Chepseba eleventh and Kiprop last.
The men's high-jump final was won by Russia's Ivan Ukhov, who gave a stunning display of jumping, clearing heights of 2.33m, 2.36 and 2.38 at the first attempt. With the gold medal assured, Urkov then made one attempt for a new Olympic record of 2.40, before deciding he would be better off celebrating his triumph and renouncing his two remaining attempts. Erik Kynard took silver with a jump of 2.33, while three athletes tied for bronze: Mutaz Barshimi from Qatar, Derek Drouin of Canada and Great Britain's Robert Grabarz, all of whom cleared 2,29, but failed at 2.33. It is very rare indeed to see three people share an Olympic medal and the podium will be a very crowded place for the medal ceremony Wednesday. — Reuters
London, August 8
The victory sets up a title decider against Mexico at Wembley Stadium on Saturday after the Mexicans beat Japan 3-1 in the earlier last four clash.
Brazil, whose obsession with winning gold is matched by few other countries, won with second-half goals from forward Leandro Damiao, now tournament top scorer with six, after a 38th minute opener from Romulo in front of a 69,389 crowd.
Damiao said: "I'm so happy, we have made a huge effort to reach the final. We are here to win the gold medal - it was a tough match but we are a great team. We are Brazil - we are here for the gold."
Defender Rafael, who plays for Manchester United, added: "It was an amazing feeling to be playing for Brazil on my home ground.
"We were confident, the coach was confident - and the final will be different to every other match we have played."
The pre-tournament favourites, who have been trying to win the Olympic title for 60 years, coming closest with silver in 1984 and 1988, have now won all five games at the London Olympics scoring three goals in each with a tally of 15 to 5. South Korea caused them problems at the start and had an early penalty claim turned down when Juan Jesus's foot clumsily connected with Ji Dong-won's face in the six-yard box but, apart from a few chances from Ji, they never really threatened.
Korea now face Japan in what is likely to be a lively battle for the bronze medal at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Friday (1845 GMT) while Brazil will hope to be crowned Olympic champions at last against Mexico on Saturday (1400 GMT).
The Koreans, who squeezed into the semis after beating hosts Britain on penalties, defended stubbornly until the 38th minute, showing why they had only conceded two goals all tournament. But Korea lost the ball on the halfway line to Neymar and Brazil, who became more imperious as the game wore on, broke away with the playmaker feeding Oscar, who glided past a line of hapless defenders before finding Romulo on his right. He planted the ball into a near-post gap with goalkeeper Lee Bum-young arriving too late to get a hand or leg to it. — Reuters
Grapplers set for action
The Indian wrestlers, who would be the last men and woman from the contingent to see action, are ready for action. On Thursday, the lone woman in the team, Geeta Phogat, would act out her dream - competing at the Olympic Games and, hopefully, fighting with honour, for medals. Having got a first-round bye, Geeta would take on Canada's Tonya Lynn Verbeek in the pre-quarterfinals of the 55kg freestyle event. The 34-year-old Tonya is an experienced wrestler, winner of silver medals at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. She has also been the runners-up at the World Championship, and won the title at the Tokyo World Cup this year.
"Geeta is a fine wrestler, and she's been working hard," Indian wrestling coach Vinod Kumar told this correspondent. "She's quite confident of doing well."
The real hopes for a medal, though, lie with the male wrestlers - Sushil Kumar (66kg), Yogeshwar Dutt (60kg), Narsingh Pancham Yadav (74kg) and Amit Kumar Dahiya (74kg). And realistically, if India were to get a medal or two at the ExCel wrestling arena, it would most likely come courtesy Sushil Kumar or Dutt.
Amit and Yadav have their bouts on August 10, Dutt on August 11 and Sushil on August 12. It's been a long, long wait, and the Indians have been training hard, first in Belarus and then here in London.
Coach Vinod Kumar said that the team has thoroughly acclimatised to the conditions in London. "It's not going to be a problem," he said. "The weather is similar to how it was in Belarus. Same weather, cloudy and rainy and unpredictable."
The coach said that the two older wrestlers Sushil and Dutt are helping the others. "They are our most experienced boys," Vinod Kumar said. "Amit (18 years old) is new and we're trying hard to get him into the right frame of mind. We're telling him to not take any pressure and treat the Olympic Games like any other event."
The wrestlers haven't had access to the venue for practise, and they're using a training facility not far from the Olympics Village. They're currently in the process of watching their weight, reducing it as their events near. "We've been getting excellent food, we have everything that we usually have - dal, rotis, sabzi," he said. "Every kind of food is available to us, but the wrestlers have to be very careful now, so they're mostly having fruit, soup and juice."
Murray’s pups display their master's medals
Games Village to be home for the poor:The sprawling London Games village located in the Olympic Park, which now houses around 17,000 athletes and officials, post the Olympics will be converted into 2,818 new homes, half of which will be affordable houses for the economically weak and the rest will be for profit. The new community that will be developed from the village will be known as East Village. The community that develops in the area after the Games will be supported by new parklands, open spaces, new transport links and community facilities.
Olympic of expulsions:While many athletes made it to the history books breaking and creating records while competing for the pride of their nations, some others let their countries down by getting expelled from the Olympics for reasons like doping and racial abuse. The expulsions started even before the Games began when Albanian weightlifter Hysen Pulaku was thrown out of the Games after failing a drugs test July 23. Next on the list was Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou who was expelled July 25 for making racially offending tweets. — Agencies
NRAI announces cash awards for Vijay, Narang