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Relay gold medal winner Campbell out of women’s 100m freestyle

Relay gold medal winner Cate Campbell has been struck down with a gastro illness which has forced her out of Wednesday's 100m freestyle heats.
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Campbell, who was ranked to qualify for the final of the blue riband event, has been quarantined from her the rest of the team for the past two days, and Australian head coach Leigh Nugent said on Wednesday morning no other member of the team had been affected.

He said he and the team's medical staff were hopeful Campbell can be ready to swim the heats of the 50m freestyle on Friday morning along with her sister Bronte.

"We're withdrawing Cate from the 100m free today, and the plan is for her to recover and get her up for the 50m," Nugent said. "We have to do everything we can to give her the opportunity to get through the various stages (heat, semi and final) of the 50m.

"She's back at the village now, resting and has been with the doctors now for the last couple of days. We'll see how she recovers from day to day and how she improves.

"She became sick overnight on Monday and was vomiting a bit, had diarrhoea and bad stomach cramps. She was isolated and the doctors have done all they can, including putting her on a drip to replace some fluid. Now she's just resting up and trying to get ready."

Nugent said the decision was made last night to withdraw from the 100m heats when it was clear Campbell, a Beijing bronze medallist as a 16-year-old, was "pretty debilitated."

"It's a pity she couldn't prove herself individually in that event, but in the end you have to cut your losses and try and regain something out of these situations. We know she is a great racer and she was positioned pretty well for this 50m and I believe she hadn't got to her peak coming to this event and the way she had been swimming we felt she would get there. Right now we have to preserve her and hopefully we can bring her out and she can do her thing.

"The doctors believe she can recover in time for the 50m. They can't perform miracles, but they are doing everything they can."

Australia's deputy chef de mission Kitty Chiller said Campbell was isolated from the team in the athletes' village immediately after problems arose.

"She's been ill for around just over a day. She improved slightly yesterday, went downhill a bit last night. She did visit the Polyclinic yesterday because the swimming team doctors were at the pool.

"It's a gastro. She has been moved into a room on her own, and with her own bathroom as well and she will continue to be monitored today, but unfortunately she has had to pull out of the 100 freestyle so Mel Schlanger will be our only swimmer in those heats this morning," Chiller said.

"We're just hoping that Cate can come good, and everything's looking like she will be back to full strength for the 50 freestyle in a couple of days. She's just rehydrating, resting up and getting her strength back.

"She's having no contact at all with any other team members or officials, just with our medical staff."

— with Samantha Lane

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Kazakhs have the last laugh

Making their mark ... Kazakhstan is escaping from the shadow of Borat.KAZAKHSTAN came to London wanting to be taken seriously. They probably knew they would not get through this Games without a mention of mankini but what they did not anticipate was the commentary to be so brazen and offensive. While the Kazakhs are flying on the medal tally – winning three gold medals in the first four days of competition – they are less happy about their treatment on the streets of London.
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Their deputy chef de mission Aslan Amanov  said members of the team and delegation had been recipients of abuse outside Olympic Park, stemming from Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which parodied their country.

‘‘In the village there is absolutely no problem,’’ Amanov  said. ‘‘The sports world knows Kazakhstan, our good side. It is when we go outside it is very disappointing. When you walk around the city sometimes they shout things at you which are not OK. Some were drunk and they were shouting all sorts of words.

‘‘We tried not to pay attention to it but it’s still ... how can I say it, it’s your country. Of course nobody takes it seriously but there are some thing that you cannot tolerate, things about your mother and sister. No matter how democratic you are you will never tolerate the words that Borat was saying about us.’’

It is now the Kazakhs, not just their tormentors, doing the laughing. The central Asian republic was placed sixth on the medal tally a quarter way through the Games. That put them ahead of heavyweights Russia, Great Britain, Germany and Australia, who beat Kazakhstan 7-4 in men’s water polo on Tuesday but ended the day, in the overall count, two golds behind them in 12th with six medals.

The latest national hero is weightlifter Maiya Maneza, whose 245kg total in the women’s 63kg category  elevated her to the top of the dais on Tuesday. ‘‘I have waited my whole life for this,’’ she said.  ‘‘This is for all the people who cheered for me.’’

There is a lot of that happening in Kazakhstan at the moment. On the first day of the Games,  veteran cyclist Alexander Vinokourov was an unexpected winner of the road race. At the weekend, they doubled their haul of gold in extraordinary scenes when the teenager Zulfiya Chinshanlo  broke the clean and jerk and total world record in weightlifting’s 53kg division.

A second weightlifting gold means the team has  already achieved the stated goal of three gold medals in London, set out by its top sports official, Talgat Yermegiyayev.

Given their previous success in boxing and wrestling there could be more to come. ‘‘This is not the end of the story yet,’’ Amanov said.

It is a wonderful tale for the former Soviet state, an ethnically diverse, resource-rich slab of land about the size of western Europe that hugs  Russia and China. And it has not arrived by accident.

Cohen’s hit movie made the country an easy target although, reportedly, their tourist trade grew despite descriptions like this from travel guide Lonely Planet: ‘‘If you’re not a fan of endless semi-arid steppe and decaying industrial cities, Kazakhstan may seem bleak, but those who enjoy remoteness, wide open spaces, lunar landscapes, long hypnotic train rides and horse sausage will definitely be in their element. If it sometimes looks like the landscape has suffered from hundreds of nuclear explosions, well, parts of it have – ever since Russian rocket scientists started using Kazakhstan as a sandpit in the late 1940s.’’

Despite the jokes, long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev has set about earning the country international recognition through sport. ‘‘He has poured all his energy into this and that’s why we are getting the results,’’ Amanov  said.

Kazakh authorities were done no favours in overturning perceptions by an incident in Kuwait in March when organisers of a shooting championship mistakenly downloaded Cohen’s comedy version of the Kazakh national anthem instead of the real tune and it was played as the gold medal-winning team stood on the podium. It led Yermegiyayev, the chairman of the Kazakh Sport and Physical Education Agency, to issue instructions to the London delegation to ensure the proper national anthem was played.

If that seems like a trivial matter, the country’s increased commitment to featuring prominently in international sport is not. While the doping scandal that dogged the Kazazh-owned professional cycling team Astana between 2007 and 2010 was a blow, they won the hosting rights to the 2011 Asian Winter Games. They were held in the cities of Almaty and Astana, and coincided with hundreds of billions of tenge, the national currency, being spent on building and upgrading venues, and other sporting infrastructure.

In London, Kazakh athletes have an extra incentive to put their nation in lights. It was announced in the lead-up to the Games that gold medallists would receive a $US250,000 ($238,000) bonus, while silver medallists would pick up $US125,000 and bronze medallists $US75,000.

There is also cash for any who finish sixth or better in their events. Coaches, too, were  given a significant pay rise, and  earn between $US500 to $US2000 a month.

Additionally, there was major investment in the athletes’ preparation in an effort to make Kazakhstan’s fifth Olympic campaign since emerging from the behind the iron curtain their most successful. A government fund reportedly allocated 1 billion tenge ($6.35 million) to pay for  ‘‘additional sports equipment and biomedical support’’ and its athletes’  pre-Olympics training. It appears to be paying off.

‘‘Now we are showing the world we can do something good,’’ Amanov said.

Who’s laughing now?

Kazakhstan is the land of Borat and gold medals. Once a part of the USSR, the nation wasn’t often part of general discussion until Sacha Baron Cohen put it on the map. But so far in London the Kazakhs are enjoying a great time of things on the sporting field. Cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov  and weightlifters  Maiya Maneza and Zulfiya Chinshanlo have made great the glorious nation from which they hail. What next? Maybe Cohen  appearing in a mockumentary about Australia’s sporting woes.

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Raw prawn theft accusation costs Coles $52,900

Coles Supermarkets has been ordered to pay $52,900 in damages to a customer wrongly accused of stealing raw prawns from its Lane Cove store.
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Philip Clarke, 49, an artist, sued Coles for defamation, assault, intimidation, harassment and wrongful imprisonment after he was aggressively confronted by the store manager in front of dozens of other customers.

District Court Judge Leonard Levy found Mr Clarke had been defamed because some of the shoppers may have recognised him from the neighbourhood and the accusation that he had been caught stealing may have been spread along the "grapevine".

In September 2009, Mr Clarke ordered about 500 grams of raw prawns from the delicatessen counter. After filling his trolley with more items, he returned to the counter, put the prawns on the top of it and asked for the package to be topped up to 1 kilogram.

Soon after, the store manager, Shant Tatosian, along with some other staff members, confronted Mr Clarke and accused him of eating some of the prawns so he did not have to pay for them.

A heated exchange followed in which Mr Tatosian claimed Mr Clarke had eaten some prawns, dropping the shells on the floor and secreting the wrapper in the freezer section.

About 30 shoppers witnessed the confrontation, which Mr Clarke said left him feeling hurt, upset, humiliated and shocked.

But during the trial, Mr Tatosian admitted he didn't actually see Mr Clarke eat or hide the prawns in his jacket, rather he assumed he had, and publicly made the allegations without giving Mr Clarke a chance to explain.

Judge Levy awarded Mr Clarke $40,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 aggravated compensatory damages because of the prolonged and repeated nature of the embarrassing and humiliating accusations he was subjected to for at least 10 minutes. Mr Clarke was also awarded interest and costs. Judge Levy dismissed the other causes of action.

Judge Levy said Coles' defence of qualified privilege failed because the other customers had no interest in hearing of the accusations, which could have been made discreetly

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Public companies’ public enemies

Apparently it's becoming nearly unbearably inconvenient to be a public company.
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The spotlight's on management. They're required to disclose things, some of which they really may not want to be exposed. Hey, shareholders might even revolt and - gasp - vote against management and directors, vote against policies, vote against pay.

Some might even demand more disclosure on topics that they find material.

Oh, the humanity. How horrifying that issuing stock to the public might actually include being required to acknowledge the public who bought those shares.

These days, public companies' managements might not necessarily enjoy some of the public shamings going on. They might even feel like they have public enemies.

Public displays

Reuters' Felix Salmon recently penned a thought-provoking piece on "why going public sucks".

One of the more interesting things Salmon highlighted was a quote by Marc Andreessen, known for his founding of legendary browser company and 1990s IPO Netscape:

"Basically, it was pretty easy to be a public company in the '90s. Then the dot-com crash hits, then Enron and all of a sudden the politicians and corporate regulators started to take a closer look, placing more scrutiny on the management and boards of our public companies. Throw in a greater awareness and interest in shares, via various privatisations and demutualisations and our growing superannuation balances, and public companies moved from the business section to the front pages."

There's plenty of irony in a man talking about "bizarre governance things" when he's currently serving on the board of directors at Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), one of the best-known duds in the annals of current corporate governance.

Of course, many corporate managements and directors fight tooth and nail against "bizarre governance things" of all types since they give shareholders power and voice.

Facebook's (Nasdaq: FB) recent debacle of an IPO was shareholder-unfriendly right out of the gate; its dual-class stock structure gave young CEO Mark Zuckerberg the majority vote, rendering shareholder votes pretty toothless.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) recently moved to enact a triple-class stock structure.

Just "bizarre" enough to work

Salmon's piece switches emphasis away from governance and to the idea that the very notion of being public means opening the company up to public scrutiny.

He's right to bring up the point that the public market demands and even requires constant information so that it can give "a second-by-second verdict on what it thinks of your performance."

Salmon also points out that upon going public, "people stop thinking of them as companies, and start thinking about them as stocks."

The aforementioned thoughts give us things to think about as investors. Salmon's description of the short-term, speculative, trading mentality is absolutely legitimate.

The way many investors view stocks is the antithesis of taking an ownership interest in an actual company (and my use of the word "interest" has double meaning - we should most certainly be interested in what our companies actually do).

Many investors have gotten so far away from the idea of any long-term ownership sentiment that of course corporate managements have started to automatically view shareholders as unimportant and shareholder-friendly policies as simply "bizarre."

I have a funny feeling that business interests and managements have rejected calls for better policies as long as publicly held corporations have existed. And as long as investors didn't care what went on beyond the share price, I'm sure any kind of change has always seemed weird or even dangerous.

Remember, less than a century ago, investors weren't even necessarily given very reliable information since there were no clear rules about disclosure. I'll bet business leaders back then thought it was the end of the world. Obviously, it wasn't, and any true long-term investor appreciates the information disclosed in ASX announcements.

Foolish take-away

When companies desire access to the capital provided in the public market, their managements should realise what they must sacrifice for that option instead of complaining that shareholders want "bizarre" things that help protect their own interests.

Our companies are facing something of a moment of truth in the 'two-strikes' vote that shareholders have on executive pay – and it seems like boards are listening.

Meanwhile, we investors need to work on acting more like long-term shareholders than gamblers.

It would be nice if we could all make this deal. When it comes to the long-term health of our companies, shareholders, and all parties involved, public companies no longer viewing everyone else as public enemies might be just "bizarre" enough to work.

Are you looking for attractive dividend stock ideas? BusinessDay readers can click here to request a new free report entitled Secure Your Future with 3 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks.

Alyce Lomax is aMotley Fool in writer. You can follow The Motley Fool on Twitter. The Motley Fool's purpose is to educate, amuse and enrich investors. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691).

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The best Facebook friend of all

Results |Medal table |Schedule
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Haitian triple jumper Samyr Laine is determined to give something back to his ravaged homeland and hopes that his old room mate at Harvard - Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg - can offer him the boost he needs.

Laine is just one of five Haitian athletes at the London Olympics representing the Caribbean nation, devastated two and a half years ago by an earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people and left one million homeless.

Three of Haiti's five very basic running tracks are housing the displaced. Millions live on less than two dollars a day.

Laine's parents moved to the United States in the 1970's, but Haiti is still clearly tugging at his heartstrings.

"I have to give. That is a necessity for me," the 28-year-old lawyer told Reuters as he prepared for his London challenge.

He is planning to set up a Jump For Haiti Foundation which would try, through training camps and clinics, to build a new generation of home-grown athletes to compete at future Olympics.

Competing with the world's best is a struggle for Haiti.

"The total budget for the Olympics is $400,000. In the United States it is $170 million," Laine said. "You have to be self-motivated. It does not have the resources and the bureaucracy hinders the athletes."

Talking of Haiti's five-strong team for London, he said: "We are really here on our own and got here on our own. It is very emotional. We are a tight group, we are very close."

FACEBOOK FOUNDER

For his foundation, Laine hopes his friends will help out.

At Harvard he shared a room with Zuckerberg, the billionaire founder of Facebook. Laine was the 14th person to sign up to the social media site.

"I will talk to him and I will talk to all of my friends," Laine said. "I am not going to ask him for any more than my other friends. But I hope his heart will move him. Having him behind the foundation would be a great, great help," he said.

Laine's family suffered agonies of uncertainty when the earthquake struck, not knowing what had happened to relatives.

"It took a full week to find out if everyone was safe," he said. "It felt like the longest week of my life. All you heard on CNN was about death tolls. You held your breath the whole time."

The family called on an aunt working for the Canadian government to help track down their loved ones.

"It was nerve-wracking. We had no contact with my grandparents. Their house was destroyed," he said.

But for now it is time to concentrate on the triple jump -- and Laine is very upbeat.

"I am 100 percent healthy. I am a viable medal hopeful," he said, after a promising pre-Olympic warm up at London's Crystal Palace. "My performances are peaking at the right time."

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