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.
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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.

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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.
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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.’’

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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".
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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."

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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.
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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

Hurt locker: your team’s injuries

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0 matches unfit (10 - 13th): Dangerfield, Reilly, Rutten, Sloane, Smith, Talia, S.Thompson, van Berlo, Walker, Wright.

1-3 matches unfit (9 - Eq 2nd): Callinan (2), Doughty (1), Jacobs (1), Johncock (3), Mackay (1), Petrenko (2), Porplyzia (1), Tippett (2), Vince (3).

4-6 matches unfit (1 - Eq 12th): Douglas (6).

SUMMARY: Has fared brilliantly, with its formidable midfield almost entirely unscathed. Tippett is clearly the biggest concern.


0 (7 - Eq 5th): Hanley, Merrett, Patfull, Raines, Redden, Rich, Rockliff.

1-3 (9 - Eq 2nd): Adcock (1), Black (3), Brown (2), Drummond (1), Lester (1), Maguire (2), Polec (2), Polkinghorne (2), Zorko (3).

4-6 (2 - Eq 8th): Banfield (6), McGrath (4).

10+ (2 - Eq 2nd): Leuenberger (14), Staker (17).

SUMMARY: The effect of long-term absences to Staker and Leuenberger, particularly on the ladder, have been underrated outside Queensland. Best players have been largely unaffected.


0 (4 - Eq 2nd): Betts, Garlett, Gibbs, Judd.

1-3 (9 - Eq 2nd): Armfield (1), Jamison (2), Kreuzer (2), Robinson (2), Scotland (1), Simpson (3), Tuohy (2), Warnock (2), Yarran (3).

4-6 (4 - Eq 1st): Duigan (4), Henderson (6), Murphy (6), Walker (6).

7-9 (1 - Eq 5th): Carrazzo (7).

10+ (2 - Eq 2nd): Laidler (13), Waite (10).

SUMMARY: Waite's continued injury woes have undermined the Blues' strength across half-forward. Murphy's mid-season absence was significant, while Henderson's premature end to the season leaves the back line thin.


0 (4 - Eq 2nd): Beams, Cloke, Toovey, Wellingham.

1-3 (8 - 9th): Blair (1), Dawes (1), Fasolo (1), Maxwell (2), O'Brien (1), Shaw (2), Sidebottom (1), Swan (2).

4-6 (4 - Eq 1st): Jolly (4), Pendlebury (4), Reid (5), Thomas (5).

7-9 (2 - Eq 2nd): Tarrant (7), Didak (9).

10+ (2 - Eq 2nd): Ball (14), Johnson (11).

SUMMARY: Horror start to the year, with Ball gone for most of it and all of its gun midfielders bar Beams being sidelined for at least a fortnight.


0 (7 - Eq 5th): Bellchambers, Davey, Howlett, Jetta, Melksham, Stanton, Watson.

1-3 (9 - Eq 2nd): Carlisle (1), Crameri (3), Dempsey (2), Fletcher (1), Heppell (2), Hocking (1), Monfries (3), Pears (1), Ryder (3).

4-6 (2 - Eq 8th): Hooker (4), Hurley (6).

7-9 (1 - Eq 5th): Zaharakis (7).

10+ (1 - Eq 9th): Winderlich (12).

SUMMARY: While the injuries have been plentiful the silver lining is that few have been long term. Zaharakis'absence has been significant, while Hurley's continued inability to stay on the ground is a concern.


0 (11 - Eq 14th): Ballantyne, Barlow, Crowley, de Boer, Duffield, Ibbotson, Johnson, McPharlin, Mzungu, Pavlich, Pearce.

1-3 (5 - 13th): Broughton (2), Hill (2), Mayne (1), McPhee (3), Mundy (2).

4-6 (1 - Eq 12th): Dawson (6).

7-9 (1 - Eq 5th): Sandilands (8).

10+ (2 - Eq 2nd): Fyfe (12), Morabito (17).

SUMMARY: Has not had a lot of players go down but those who have - Fyfe and Sandilands - are, alongside Pavlich, undoubtedly in the top three. Fyfe put in a blinder in his return last week. The key will be whether he can keep the Dockers in finals contention by the time Sandilands returns.


0 (2 - 1st): Mackie, West.

1-3 (14 - 1st): Bartel (1), Chapman (1), Corey (1), Duncan (1), Enright (1), Hawkins (1), T.Hunt (1), Johnson (1), Kelly (3), Lonergan (1), Motlop (1), Scarlett (2), Selwood (1), Taylor (1).

4-6 (3 - Eq 4th): Christensen (5), J.Hunt (4), Podsiadly (4).

10+ (1 - Eq 9th): Varcoe (17).

SUMMARY: On the surface looks to have struggled badly with continuity, with only Mackie and West fit every week, although that could be an extension of last year's successful strategy of not taking any chances on players who are borderline.


0 (9 - Eq 10th): Bennell, Brennan, Caddy, Day, Hunt, Shaw, Smith, Stanley, Warnock.

1-3 (4 - Eq 14th): Ablett (2), Brown (3), McKenzie (1), Russell (3).

4-6 (4 - Eq 1st): Dixon (5), Matera (5), Prestia (4), Rischitelli (4).

7-9 (2 - Eq 2nd): Harbrow (9), Swallow (7).

10+ (1 - Eq 9th): Bock (13).

SUMMARY: The three long-term injury victims - Bock, Harbrow and Swallow - are arguably only exceeded in importance by captain Ablett. Bock has undoubtedly been the biggest blow.


0 (6 - 4th): Adams, Davis, McDonald, Mohr, Smith, Ward.

1-3 (9 - Eq 2nd): Bugg (1), Cameron (3), Cornes (3), Greene (1), Giles (2), Palmer (1), Power (2), Scully (2), Treloar (1).

4-6 (3 - Eq 4th): Coniglio (6), Patton (6), Shiel (5).

7-9 (1 - Eq 5th): Brogan (7).

10+ (1 - Eq 9th): O'hAilpin (16).

SUMMARY: The recycled veterans have, unsurprisingly, struggled to play out the year without interruption, with Brogan's absence felt because of the absence of mature ruck alternatives.


0 (9 - Eq 10th): Lewis, Mitchell, Puopolo, Rioli, Roughead, Schoemakers, Sewell, Stratton, Suckling.

1-3 (9 - Eq 2nd): Birchall (2), Bruest (1), Burgoyne (1), Franklin (3), Gibson (2), Guerra (3), Hale (1), Smith (3), Whitecross (1).

10+ (2 - Eq 2nd): Bailey (15), Hodge (11).

SUMMARY: Apart from Luke Hodge's frustrating year and, of late, Franklin's troublesome hamstring, 2012 has been great for the Hawks injury-wise. Roughead's return from a ruptured Achilles has been remarkable.


0 (8 - Eq 7th): Blease, Garland, Grimes, Gysberts, Howe, Martin, Rivers, Trengove.

1-3 (9 - Eq 2nd): Bail (3), Frawley (2), Jones (1), McDonald (1), McKenzie (1), Moloney (2), Sylvia (3), Tapscott (3), Watts (3).

4-6 (2 - Eq 8th): Clark (6), Jamar (4).

10+ (1 - Eq 9th): Jurrah (15).

SUMMARY: The long-term absences of Clark and Jurrah have left the Demons with one of the competition's least imposing forward lines. Jamar's recurring injury has also exposed another area in which their depth is thin: ruck.


0 (16 - 18th): Adams, Anthony, Atley, Bastinac, Firrito, Goldstein, Harper, Harvey, Macmillan, Petrie, Swallow, Tarrant, Thomas, Wells, Wright, Ziebell.

1-3 (2 - 18th): Grima (3), Thompson (2).

4-6 (1 - Eq 12th): McMahon (5).

10+ (1 - Eq 9th): McIntosh (10).

SUMMARY: Few would begrudge North's elevatation into the top eight after successive ninth placings. But with its favourable draw and remarkable run with injury it should be improving at least as much as it has.


0 (8 - Eq 7th): Broadbent, Carlile, Chaplin, Cornes, Brad Ebert, Pearce, P.Stewart, Westhoff.

1-3 (6 - 12th): Boak (3), Cassisi (3), McCarthy (1), Thomas (1), Trengove (2), Wingard (2).

4-6 (2 - Eq 8th): Hartlett (5), Surjan (4).

7-9 (2 - Eq 2nd): J.Butcher (8), Schulz (7).

10+ (2 - Eq 2nd): Gray (15), Pittard (13).

SUMMARY: Scoring options cruelled by the long-term absences of Gray, Butcher and Schulz.


0 (11 - Eq 14th): Cotchin, Deledio,

Grigg, Houli, Jackson, Martin, Nahas, Newman, Rance, Riewoldt, Tuck.

1-3 (4 - Eq 14th): Edwards (2), Griffiths (3), I.Maric (1), Morris (1).

4-6 (1 - Eq 12th): King (6).

7-9 (3 - 1st): Foley (7), Grimes (8), Vickery (8).

10+ (1 - Eq 9th): Astbury (12).

SUMMARY: Long-term injuries to Grimes and Foley have hurt, but at least core leaders Cotchin, Deledio and Newman have been available throughout, as have bookends Riewoldt and Rance.


0 (12 - 16th): Armitage, Dal Santo, Dempster, Gilbert, Goddard, Koschitzke, Hayes, Milne, Montagna, Riewoldt, Sipposs, Steven.

1-3 (4 - Eq 14th): Geary (2), Gwilt (3), Jones (1), Saad (1).

4-6 (3 - Eq 4th): Blake (4), Fisher (5), McEvoy (6).

7-9 (1 - Eq 5th): Stanley (8).

SUMMARY: Yes, the Saints are lower on the ladder than this time last year, but strategically their trajectory looks much more positive. Hayes' knee is robust, Riewoldt is again a hard-running threat and their young players have shone.


0 (13 - 17th): Bird, Bolton, Grundy, Hannebery, Jack, Jetta, Johnson, Kennedy, Malceski, McGlynn, McVeigh, Reid, Richards.

1-3 (4 - Eq 14th): Mattner (1), O'Keefe (1), Roberts-Thomson (3), Shaw (1).

4-6 (1 - Eq 12th): Goodes (6).

7-9 (1 - Eq 5th): Mumford (8).

10+ (1 - Eq 9th): Rohan (13).

SUMMARY: The Swans' top two players, Goodes and Mumford, have missed 14 matches between them but injury has hardly affected the middle to upper-core of the squad.


0 (9 - Eq 10th): Cox, Darling, Gaff, Hurn, Kerr, Lynch, Masten, S.Selwood, Shuey.

1-3 (7 - Eq 10th): Glass (1), Mackenzie (1), Naitanui (2), Priddis (2), Rosa (1), Schofield (2), Waters (2).

10+ (4 - 1st): Embley (14), Kennedy (12), LeCras (17), Nicoski (17).

SUMMARY: Among the core squad most have missed no more than two matches, but it has been saddled with four major long-termers, of which Embley is the only one whose return this season looks assured.


0 (8 - Eq 7th): Boyd, Cross, Dahlhaus, Lake, Liberatore, Minson, Picken, Wallis.

1-3 (7 - Eq 10th): Cordy (2), Griffen (1), Hargrave (1), Higgins (1), Jones (1), Murphy (1), Roughead (1).

4-6 (3 - Eq 4th): Cooney (6), Giansiracusa (4), Wood (6).

10+ (2 - Eq 2nd): Morris (17), Williams (13).

SUMMARY: There is not much for the Dogs to savour in an awful season, in which injuries cannot be blamed. Morris is no crowd-puller but is hugely under-rated as a negating defender, while Cooney's degenerative knee condition shows no signs of stabilising.

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

By admin, ago

Travis Burns cops 12-week ban

Double hit ... the nine-match ban is in addition to the three games Burns will miss after pleading guilty to this chicken wing tackle on Mose Masoe in the same game. Travis Burns
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TRAVIS BURNS was accused last night of a ''get-square'' on Roosters prop Martin Kennedy, yet his only recourse will be a legal appeal. Having been found guilty of an intentional high tackle, he was given a nine-match ban.

When added to a separate charge stemming from the same spiteful clash in round 20, Burns will be sidelined for a total of 12 matches. So not only has he been handed the equal third-longest suspension in NRL history - albeit as a result of two charges - he has also been found guilty of a deliberate high tackle, something his counsel had warned was ''one of the worst'' accusations that could be levelled at a player.

In last night's case, which had been held over a week, the panel was given two very contrasting versions of the tackle. Burns insisted he had attempted a ''ball-and-all'' tackle, in a case of ''big man on small man''. It was an accident, he said. The prosecution described it as a deliberate high tackle - a ''get-square''.

During cross-examination, Burns was accused of ''smiling'' just after the tackle. NRL prosecutor Peter Kite maintained that Burns had a sense of ''mission accomplished'' after the tackle.

Burns, though, said: ''I'm trying to finish off a tackle. I didn't realise I'd made contact with the head until everyone rushed in.''

Kite said Burns could be seen ''leaping into the air with a swinging right arm, directed at the head of player Kennedy. It's a classic swinging-arm tackle. The left arm doesn't wrap at all, [while] the movement of the head to the side was to allow for the swinging arm. He didn't have to leap into the air to make a ball-and-all tackle.

''It was clearly a get-square against player Kennedy for whatever reason.''

Kite said the tackle was at worst intentional, and at best reckless. In contrast, Burns's counsel Nick Ghabar said the tackle was at worst reckless and at best careless.

''If he was going to make an intentional tackle, you would have thought he'd at least try a stiff arm,'' Ghabar said.

Burns repeatedly denied that he had deliberately hit Kennedy high. ''I was defending my try line,'' he said. ''He's a big guy, I'm on the try line, I'm thinking of a one-on-one tackle, a ball-and-all tackle - I wanted to wrap the ball up in one motion.''

Asked why he appeared to leap, Burns said: ''It was close to the line, he's a lot taller than me. I felt to do a ball-and-all tackle close to the line, I had to elevate myself to that height.''

Burns denied he had foreseen that contact would be made with the head or neck of Kennedy. Under cross-examination, Burns also denied Kite's assertion that he had been ''looking constantly at his [Kennedy's] head''.

''I'm not looking at the head,'' Burns said. ''I'm looking at Martin, because he's running directly at me. You've got to keep your eyes on who you're tackling.''

The panel of Royce Ayliffe, Michael Buettner and Sean Garlick took less than 10 minutes to find that Burns had committed an intentional high tackle. But the prosecution's wish for a grade-three offence was rejected by the panel, which opted for the lowest grade of the intentional scale. Thus Burns was handed a 12-match ban, having already pleaded guilty to a dangerous-contact charge over a chicken-wing tackle earlier in the same game.

The utility has already served one match of his suspension.

Burns was clearly shattered. While his contract with the Panthers expires at the end of next season, there have been suggestions that he has been told that he can look for another club next year. That search would be more difficult now. Burns will serve half of his suspension this year, leaving him with a six-match ban next year.

Head down, he walked out of Rugby League Central without uttering a word. Definitely no smile.

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

By admin, ago

Vintage gems from the vault

LIKE leadership tension in the Labor Party, some television shows simply refuse to die. On the free-to-air multichannels and nostalgia-based pay TV channels, it's as if the new millennium never happened.
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One explanation is old shows are cheap and there are lots of channels in need of content. But there's more to it than that.

For a start, the shows with the longest shelf life are sitcoms. Most sitcoms abide by the rule that nobody learns and nobody grows, which makes them ideally suited to lives of perpetual rotation. Each episode works within a rigid universe where familiar tropes, character traits and catchphrases are repeated ad infinitum. In narrative terms, they exist in a state of suspended animation.

Interestingly, a disproportionate number of these sitcoms come from the US in the mid-1960s, which in retrospect was the golden age of the sitcom. It was, of course, a golden age for popular culture in general - a kind of cultural big bang, the effects of which are still being felt to this day. These shows reflect a world that is recognisably our own while simultaneously suffused with a comforting glow of nostalgia.

In stylistic terms, it represented a magical period between the drab austerity of the 1950s and overindulgence of the early '70s. It is a period enjoying a revival thanks to the success of Mad Men, and the cool minimalism of shows such as I Dream of Jeannie and Get Smart seem almost contemporary.

Here are 10 US sitcoms from the '60s, in order of launch date, that deserve their place in the TV schedule.

Many became more popular in syndication than when they first aired, gradually insinuating their way into the popular imagination.

Some have dated better than others, but they share fine writing and production values, and a beguiling sense of optimism.

Bewitched (1964-72)Number of episodes: 254

The first of a run of shows combining family sitcom tropes with supernatural elements. Beautiful witch Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) marries mortal Darrin (Dick York, and later Dick Sargent) and tries to lead a normal suburban life. Storylines are driven by attempts to keep Samantha's true nature hidden, and the disapproval of her mother (Agnes Moorehead), who doesn't approve of the mixed marriage. The idea of a powerful woman subverting attempts to tame her played well at a time when patriarchal structures were being challenged. Watch it on: Gem, TV1, DVD.

The Addams Family (1964-66)Number of episodes: 64

This is based on a series of New Yorker magazine cartoons about an eccentric family with supernatural capabilities. The plots are driven by the family's good-natured indifference to how they appear to straight society, and in that sense the show anticipated the emerging countercultural revolution. It features wonderful, richly drawn characters and a superb theme song. Watch it on: Fox Classics, DVD.

The Munsters (1964-66)Number of episodes: 70

This aired during the same period as The Addams Family but in this case the humour derives from the family looking like horror-movie characters while acting like a conventional sitcom family. Both shows were broadcast in black and white and this has only added to their timeless, Gothic appeal. Watch it on: DVD only.

Gilligan's Island (1964-67)Number of episodes: 98

Created by Sherwood Schwartz, who later made The Brady Bunch, this features a disparate group stranded on a deserted island.

The plots are driven by the incompatibility of the castaways and their thwarted attempts to escape, usually as a result of Gilligan's ineptitude. The early episodes were first aired in black and white but were colourised for syndication. Watch it on: Channel Nine, DVD.

Hogan's Heroes (1965-71)Number of episodes: 168

Released against a backdrop of the Cold War and US involvement in Vietnam, and with the horrors of Hitler's Final Solution relatively fresh in people's minds, a jolly World War II prisoner-of-war romp might have seemed a curious anachronism. But presenting German officers as bumbling fools possibly provided a salve of sorts for those scarred by the war. Watch it on: Channel One, DVD.

I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70)Number of episodes: 139

Inspired by the success of Bewitched and based loosely on the movie The Brass Bottle, which also stars Barbara Eden, this follows a hapless astronaut (Larry Hagman) who accidentally releases a genie (Eden) who is determined to serve him. Much of the humour comes from his thwarted attempts to control the feisty, mischievous Jeannie and conceal her true identity from colleagues and neighbours. Sidney Sheldon created the series and wrote most of the episodes. Watch it on: Gem, TV1.

Get Smart (1965-70)Number of episodes: 138

Comedian Mel Brooks devised this superb spy-show parody with Buck Henry but took a backseat after the pilot. The show's stylish mid-'60s aesthetic has a timeless appeal and its legacy is an abundance of references that have permeated popular culture - the cone of silence, the shoe phone, phrases such as ''and loving it'' and ''missed it by that much''. It was a kind of knowing slapstick, based on the repetition of deliberately bad jokes and some rich characters. Still, the show's success relied on the chemistry between Don Adams as Agent 86 Maxwell Smart, and Barbara Feldon as 99. Despite their age difference, his bumbling pratfalls and her weirdly vulnerable flirtation are a winning combination. Watch it on: Channel One, TV1.

Batman (1966-68)Number of episodes: 120

The popular DC Comics character gets a playful, quasi-psychedelic, gloriously camp television adaptation with Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as the boy wonder, Robin. Its signature motif is the use of words such as KAPOW!, BAM! and ZOK! superimposed over fight scenes - a homage both to the show's comic-book origins and the pop-art movement, which reached its apotheosis in the US in the early to mid-'60s. Watch it on: 111 Hits.

The Monkees (1966-68)Number of episodes: 58

Inspired by the success of the Beatles' movies, particularly A Hard Day's Night, Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider manufactured a four-piece band for a TV show. Despite the contrived nature of the band (often referred to as the Pre-Fab Four) and the show, both surpassed expectations. The show features avant-garde film techniques and bravely shunned a laugh track. The band also railed against the restraints imposed on them, eventually writing their own material and gaining respect within the music industry. Watch it on: DVD only.

The Brady Bunch (1969-74)Number of episodes: 117

Although it was launched in the '60s, this is much more a post-'60s artefact, the blended Brady family an acknowledgment of the disruption the decade caused to family life (the creator, Sherwood Schwartz, intended Carol to be a divorcee but the network insisted this not be made explicit). Nevertheless, it is a gentle, anodyne family sitcom that seems irredeemably cheesy today. Its enduring popularity seems based more on a postmodern affection for kitsch than any intrinsic qualities. Watch it on: Channel Eleven, TV1, DVD.

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Whale of a dirty job for humpback disposal team

TOWING the massive whale carcass on Newport Beach out for a sea burial would be a difficult and dangerous task, but still far more pleasant than the ''horrible'' alternative.
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The dead humpback became lodged in the beach's ocean swimming pool before dawn today. It was refloated on the high tide, just before 8pm and tomorrow it is likely to be carved into pieces by chainsaw and knife, when it washes ashore again.

Six chainsaw teams, normally deployed cutting up trees by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, are standing by for the grisly job.

''It's a horrible task, there's no doubt about it,'' said Geoff Ross, the co-ordinator of marine and fauna programs at the NPWS. ''It's like when you are cutting up any large organism - parts of it are very hard to cut, the sights and smells evoke emotions, it's extremely tough work.''

The 11.6-metre-long, 30 tonne humpback whale is thought to have died about three days ago, and the vast corpse was beginning to bloat with gas as it lay in the swimming pool.

The beach was closed to swimming and the whale body attracted a crowd of about 500, as well as herons, gulls, and a pair of falcons that observed developments from a nearby rock ledge.

Sections of the swimming pool's fence were removed, and staff from the Office of Environment and Heritage and Pittwater Council hoped the dead mammal would float further down the beach on the high tide.

''Once that happens, we will move in and cut it up,'' Mr Ross said. ''I'll make an incision to let out the gas that's building up inside, and then the chainsaw teams will get to work.''

Cutting up the whale means separate teams starting at the head and the tail and working inwards until the creature is divided into a series of large chunks of flesh and blubber, each weighing three or four tonnes.

''It's a very difficult process and the chainsaws get blunted quickly, so we rotate teams regularly, with the whole process taking much of the day,'' Mr Ross said. ''I'll take the opportunity to do a quick necropsy, so we can see if we can work out why the animal died.''

Tissue and DNA samples would also be taken. Beached whales often also contain human pollution, such as clumps of plastic bags, Mr Ross said.

Once the carcass is cut up, it is likely to be taken by truck to a landfill site in western Sydney, where it will take several years to decay.

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League and TV’s uneven playing field

Johnathan Thurston's contention that regional teams are subject to an unfair disadvantage because of the sway held by television at NRL headquarters is more an observation than a news story. It's patently true.
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The problem we have in squeezing four national football codes into a country of only 22 million is that we have to paper over a helluva lot of cracks. We only have six state capitals and one of them is so small it can't support a team in any footy code.

So while we do our best to even up the playing talent between the franchises, we can't force people to like them all equally when some are based in giant cities and others in rural areas. Television likes the teams that people like the most – and because of that will work against the interests of the game's administration by pushing those teams, allowing them to demand more from sponsors.

The way our television networks are set up – out of capitals with regional affiliates - accentuates the problem.

As I wrote in Rugby League Week this week, the Central Queensland NRL bid is finding it difficult to swim against the tide of news content that comes out of the capitals and into regional areas. Football teams like the Cowboys have managed to actually send content in the other direction – but you've got to get into the comp first.

It's wrong that Canberra are never on free-to-air TV. It's wrong that Brisbane always play on Fridays. The previous administration of the NRL managed to give us uncertainty of results, even when a team based at Suncorp Stadium plays one based at Leichhardt. That's no small achievement.

The challenge for the new hierarchy is to eliminate the other inequalities which were enshrined in the current broadcast deal. Full-season scheduling will go a long way towards doing that.

Burgess boys will get England call-up

England are going to South Africa for a training camp straight after the grand final and I fully expect Luke Burgess to join brother Sam in Steve McNamara's squad. McNamara was at Sunday's South Sydney-Wests Tigers game, sitting next to George Burgess who will one day also play for his country.

Just one question though. Given that England were brushed by Australia and New Zealand for internationals this spring, and that their workload consists of just Wales and France plus (hopefully) a Tri-Nations final, why aren't they playing the South Africans as well?

Given that the Rhinos aren't in the World Cup, I don't think it's going to damage anyone's credibility if a second-string England runs up 90 or 100 against South Africa, as Australia and England did against New Zealand A and the United States respectively before the 2000 World Cup.

If we have professional rugby league players going in an officials capacity to a country where our game is played, let's get what we can out of them.

Super League dumps sponsor

Discord has been reliably informed that sponsor Stobart did not dump Super League one year into a three-year deal – it was the other way around.

And that's good news for the game. If you can't get out of a deal with someone who paid nothing, then when can you get out of one? Maybe the RFL had to stump up for the metho to wipe the adverts from the side of the trucks.

By dumping Stobart, RFL chief executive Nigel Wood has repositioned the game in the market place. Accepting a naming rights deal for nothing was tantamount to commercial suicide – staying around for the duration of the deal was actually letting go of the bridge and hurtling earthwards.

Now the league can enter talks with a new backer in a position of – comparative – strength.

League, I love it

For those of you who are new to Discord, welcome! We've been going for three years at various locations, including rugbyleague南京夜网, rleague南京夜网 and – when we got really desperate – stevemascord南京夜网. This is not a Sydney rugby league gossip column; Discord inhabits a parallel universe where people are as interested in the warring factions in Italian Rugby League as they are in how many weeks Anthony Watmough will get for a chickenwing tackle.

The key ingredient for the column, from one week to another, has been comments by readers at the bottom of this page. Feel free to fire some in the knowledge that I'll read them.

If you've gone out of your way to find us from previous locations, thanks a heap.

And click here if you want to read previous columns.

Twitter: @therealsteavis

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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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