The pace picks up

ON Friday, the first day of athletics, we'll see the women's 100 metres get under way, the first round of long-jump favourite Mitchell Watt's qualification and the women's discus qualification, where Dani Samuels, the world champion from 2009, will compete.
Nanjing Night Net

The first of the medals will be handed out for the women's 10,000m; Vivian Cheruiyot from Kenya will be looking to take out the double in the 5000m and 10,000m as she did last year at the world championships.

It's also a big day in the pool. James Magnussen and Eamon Sullivan will go up against each other in the 50m freestyle, and Michael Phelps will go for his third consecutive gold in the 100m butterfly. Rebecca Adlington will be out to defend her 800m freestyle title. On the cycle track, Anna Meares and Victoria Pendleton will compete in what will be the Ashes on wheels. I'm sure Meares will win, though this will be one of the most strongly contested match-ups for sure.


Today is very significant as it's the first run of Usain Bolt. Also, the first of the women's sprint medals will be decided in the 100m, while we'll also see the finals of women's discus and men's long jump.

Another highlight is the women's triathlon. Emma Moffatt won a bronze medal in Beijing and has been leading the world in the past couple of years. Local favourite Helen Jenkins is tipped to win bronze, but the Aussie girls will be on the hunt for medals for sure. They'll just have to get used to the horrible water in the Serpentine Lake.


As an athlete, today is the blue-ribbon day. Local girl and defending champion Christine Ohuruogu goes into the women's 400m, but most attention will be on the men's 100m. Could it be the end of the reign of Usain Bolt? I went to his training session last week and he didn't look the silky-smooth Usain Bolt I've seen in the past. Yohan Blake's trajectory is really on the rise.

The men's 100m is the most competitive race of any Olympic Games of the modern era, with the top-four fastest men in history taking part. A world record? If the weather keeps up, maybe. I don't know if anyone in the world can run as fast as Bolt has. He's a unique being physically and mentally, but if anyone can it's Blake. He ran 9.75 seconds this year, which is the fourth-fastest of all time. But watching that 2009 final when Bolt ran 9.58 seconds was one of those races you think might never be equalled again.

In the final of the men's tennis singles we might see a match-up between Andy Murray and Roger Federer. Played at Wimbledon, it has a special significance.


LaShawn Merritt is the defending champion in the 400m. He's in fantastic form, but my money is on Kirani James from Grenada, who's hoping to win his country's first Olympic medal. He's 18 and has a natural running style. Hopefully he'll claim some big scalps.

In the women's pole vault, Alana Boyd, who broke the Australian record this year, has an outside chance. Michael Diamond is in action in the men's trap, having won gold in 1996 and in Sydney and with six Games under his belt. He is now in his 40s but he might be able to get another gold. Sally Pearson is in the heats of the hurdles. She's only lost one race since becoming world champion last year. I'm sure she can overcome that hiccup.


We have an outside chance of getting a medal in the men's triathlon. We'll come up against the British triathlon twins, the Brownlee brothers. Alistair is favourite for gold and Jonathan is favourite for silver. Our Aussie boys will give it a crack but we're outsiders.

The women's sprint will be another cracker between Anna Meares and Victoria Pendleton. That's the most significant race in terms of rivalry because Meares has been hard-pressed to knock off Pendleton in the sprint.

The 100m women's hurdles final will be massive. We haven't had a gold medal-winning female track athlete since Cathy Freeman, so it is very significant.

Lauren Mitchell in the gymnastics finals should win a medal.


The women's 200m final on the track will be a match-up between Jamaica and American Carmelita Jeter. But Allyson Felix is the favourite to win, and everyone will be hoping she does because she has been the bridesmaid for so long.

Current world champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are favourites to take the gold medal in the sailing 49er class.

One of my favourite events, which I reckon is going to be a cracker, is the BMX. Sam Willoughby, the world champion from Australia, is a true athlete. He trains as hard and competitively as any of the top sprinters. In the women's event, British girl Shanaze Reade is in the mix for the gold medal. At the world titles, ''Speedy Reedy'' was three or four bike lengths ahead and blew it. She comes in here with something to prove. It is one of those sports where you cannot pick the favourite.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

By admin, ago

Meares gears up for final stoush

While British golden girl Victoria Pendleton’s face and body lit up screens and billboards all over London in the lead-up to the games, Anna Meares trained in anonymity in northern Italy.
Nanjing Night Net

When every English newspaper splashed with Pendleton’s take on the most hyped rivalry in track cycling and how it might play out in London, no one could get to Meares.

The 28-year-old from Central Queensland was holed up with the Australian sprint cycling team in Montichiari, a small town in scenic Lombardy, preparing quietly for what could be the final showdown between the two undisputed queens of the velodrome. Decamping to mainland Europe allowed the team to escape winter in Adelaide. But it also removed Meares from the spotlight – first in Australia and then in London, where Pendleton is ‘‘Queen Victoria’’ and Meares is portrayed as some sort of athletic wicked witch, the fly in ‘‘Our Vicky’s’’ ointment and the biggest obstacle to the 31-year-old’s perfect Olympic swansong.

Today, the games begin. The pair meet in the first of three events they will both contest, the team sprint. ‘‘I am relaxed and confident that I have done all the work that I could have possibly done,’’ Meares said from Montichiari shortly before she left for London. ‘‘I don’t believe there is anything more or anything that I could have done better ... I am in the form of my career.’’

She will need to be. Though favourite to win the individual sprint and the keirin, Meares learnt four months ago, when she was pushed into disqualification at the track cycling world championships in Melbourne, how badly Pendleton wants to finish her career on top.

It was the latest, extraordinary twist in their rivalry. Before Beijing, where Meares took silver – behind Pendleton – seven months after breaking her neck in a cycling accident, the Australian was used to playing second fiddle in the sprint.

It took Meares another three years to crack a victory – an emotional win at the world championships in Holland – and she maintained the upper hand with a semi-final win over Pendleton in the Olympic test event in February. The Melbourne race in April has given Sunday’s sprint showdown a deliciously uncertain edge.

‘‘There are so many components you have to get right to end up on top,’’ Meares said of her favourite event. ‘‘You can be the fastest and lose, you can have all the skill and technique yet lose. This race is about who can compile all the qualities and components required to win, who can perform under pressure, [who’s] done their homework, who knows their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, who can confront another and outwit them. It is the most difficult and challenging race I have ever had to ride ... it tests me to the max.’’

Pendleton has made it clear she wants a normal life after London. No more soul-bearing documentaries, no more glamorous fashion shoots, no more pressure to win, win, win. From her training base across the channel, Meares followed a lot of the commentary on their rivalry but didn’t think she stood to benefit from Pendleton’s sky-high profile.

‘‘If Vicky can keep herself grounded and not allow the many distractions of being a home Games and of being a face of the Games to a minimum then no, it is of no help to me, the spotlight she is under,’’ Meares said.  ‘‘She has proven many times in the past she can handle it, I am not expecting any different. She is a good competitor, as are all the other girls.’’

Two weeks ago, Meares stopped posting on Twitter. The usually relaxed and bubbly voice on social media fell silent. ‘‘Thanks for the support. See u all after its all been run,’’ she posted in her farewell.

‘‘The build-up has been long and the excitement hard to control,’’ Meares said from Montichiari around the same time. ‘‘Nerves are there but under control ... I hope I can do something great and all I want is that chance. The rest is up to me to get over the line – first.’’

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

By admin, ago

Mass disqualification of badminton players may open the door for Australia

EIGHT female badminton players have been sent home from the Olympics, disqualified by the sport's world federation after throwing matches in a case condemned by London Games boss Sebastian Coe as "depressing" and "unacceptable".
Nanjing Night Net

A disciplinary hearing held this morning, which Australia's badminton coach made a submission to, found that four players from South Korea, two from Indonesia and the competition's top seeds from China deliberately tried to lose their qualifying matches in an attempt to manipulate their draws.

The four sets of doubles teams were charged after matches on Tuesday littered with basic errors. Accused by badminton's international governing body of "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport", they were ultimately found guilty of trying to lose with the motive of improving their positions for the knockout stages.

The sensational mass ejection could lead to Australia's reinstatement in the round robin competition - a new, and now controversial, format for these Olympics - but the Australian Olympic Committee says it is yet to receive advice amid reports that the Indonesian team might appeal the disqualification. Regardless, Australian pair Renuga Veeran and Leanne Choo stand to receive a lifeline after initially being eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, the women's doubles competition has been thrown into disarray with the looming appeals and decisions on whether teams previously eliminated will be reinstated or whether the competition will proceed without the disqualified teams. The competition was due to resume - at quarter-final stage - on Wednesday afternoon at Wembley, but half of the eight teams would be missing.

According to reports, the head coach of South Korea, Sung Han-kook, admitted before the disciplinary hearing that his players threw their games, but he blamed the Chinese team for initiating the contest to lose so that the teams didn't have to meet again in the semi-finals.

"Who would want to sit through something like that?" Coe said on Wednesday morning before the disqualifications were confirmed.

"It's unacceptable. And I know he badminton federation really well and they will take that really seriously. It is unacceptable."

Australia's badminton coach, Lasse Bundgaard, become involved in the case after lodging an official protest over the alarming 'contests' at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night that provoked booing from the crowd. The players served into the net repeatedly and hit wide.

"He didn't do that in order to Australia to progress in any way shape or form," Australia's deputy chef de mission Kitty Chiller said.

"He genuinely feels it's important for the integrity of the sport to lodge that protest. He cares about the sport, and it is found that that's happened, it's certainly not something that we would encourage or condone."

London's Olympic organising committee said it would not refund tickets because spectators had watched other matches in the session.

"You get into all sorts of strange precedents if people aren't satisfied with what they see," London organising committee CEO Paul Deighton said.

"If you get into that territory it's very grey."

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

By admin, ago

Schlanger flies the flag for Australia after Campbell’s withdrawal

Thumbs up ... Australia's Melanie Schlanger after winning her heat.LONDON: Her teammate Cate Campbell may have been missing through illness, but Melanie Schlanger proudly flew the flag for Australia in the 100m freestyle heats on Wednesday morning, qualifying for the evening semi-finals as the second fastest.
Nanjing Night Net

Campbell was hit by a gastro bug on Monday, and the decision was made for her to miss the 100m heats and hopefully be able to recover in time for the 50m freestyle on Friday.

In her absence, her gold medal-winning relay teammate clocked a slick 53.50s to be only behind China Yi Tang (53.28s) in qualifying times for the semi-finals.

In her heat Schlanger also claimed the scalp of the event favourite Ranomi Kromowidjojo (53.66s), but the Dutchwoman can be expected to go much faster in the semis as she has a 52.75s performance this year to her name.

‘‘It felt pretty good. I wanted to sneak under 54s this morning so to go 53.5s is pretty good,’’ Schlanger said. ‘‘I guess my second 50m is always my strength and I didn’t quite give it 100 per cent this morning but it’s still encouraging.’’

Schlanger was asked if everything was now a bonus after winning the gold in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay on Saturday night. ‘‘Yeah, but I’d love to be up there individually as well,’’ she said. ‘‘We’ll have to wait and see.’’

She also confirmed she will be swimming in the final of the 4 x 200m freestyle relay tonight. She has a good break of 75 minutes between the 100m freestyle semi-final and the relay final. As to who her partners will be remains a mystery until an hour before the finals’ session.

Bronte Barratt, who claimed bronze in the individual event on Tuesday, and who was in the 4 x 200m team which won gold in Beijing, will be there, and while Kylie Palmer has been struggling this week in both the 400m and 200m freestyle events, she is also expected to make the team. Before London it was expected Stephanie Rice would be the fourth member, but her battles at the Games meant she was probably going to be overlooked this time around.

The other spot is expected to go to the best performer out of the heats, Brittany Elmslie, who with Schlanger, Campbell and Alicia Coutts won relay gold on night one.Elmslie clocked 1min.57.50s off the blocks. The next fastest with the adjustment for the flying start was Blair Evans who clocked 1min.56.99s but 0.7s is added to make the adjustment, which means she was outside Elmslie’s figures.

‘‘I’ve been itching since day one to get out there and swim for Australia again,’’ Elmslie said. Asked if she had come off the high of winning gold on night one: ‘‘The first couple of days I was still running on a high, but by yesterday I was normal and tried to stay focused for today.’’

Australia qualified fastest for the final with an overall time of 7min.49.44s. The United States were second with a 7min.50.75s effort, but they will be bolstered by the addition of 200m individual gold medal winner Allison Schmitt and teenage superstar Missy Franklin and are the favourites for gold.

In the men’s 200m backstroke, Mitch Larkin advanced from the heats into the evening semi-finals with a 1min.57.53s swim. Matson Lawson though could manage only 21st with his 1min.58.92s swim.It was the same story in the men’s 200m individual medley with one Australian getting through and one missing out.

Daniel Tranter qualified in 13th with a 1min.59.70s swim, while Jayden Hadler was 31st in 2min.01.54s.In the women’s 200m breaststroke Sally Foster qualified 10th in 2min.26.04s, while Tessa Wallace squeaked into the semis in 16th place with a 2min.2min.26.94s.ends

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

By admin, ago