Sunday, July 29, 2012

Imposter joins India at Opening parade

Odd one out: Indian officials have demanded an apology after an unidentified woman, wearing a red top and turquoise trousers, led athletes through the Olympic stadium

It was supposed to be one of the proudest moments of their lives, the chance to show the world that they were ready to take part in the Olympics.

But India's athletes had the limelight stolen from them as they filed through the Olympic stadium during the opening ceremony - by an imposter who slipped through one of the tightest security operations Britain has ever seen.

The unidentified woman looked conspicuous in a red top and turquoise trousers as she walked with the team, who were all wearing yellow turbans or saris.
     Indian officials have made a complaint to London's Olympic organisers about the incident, during which the woman walked just to the right of the country's flag-bearer Sushil Kumar.
The woman was not wearing an identification badge and the team has demanded an apology.

India's acting chef-de-mission Muralidharan Raja said: 'She had no business being there. It was a clear case of intrusion.
    'She embarrassed us in front of the world. The Indian contingent was shown (on television) for just 10 seconds, and to think this lady hogged all the limelight.'
Mr Raja, asked if he believed the woman was an Indian, said: 'She could be Asian, Latin American, I don't know.'

Black coffee plse, not lassi...

By Mihir Vasavda

The first time Sardar Singh was told to drink black coffee half-an-hour before a match, he thought it was a joke. Minutes later, he realised David John, the Indian hockey team’s physio, was serious. Sardar drank the coffee reluctantly, but did not understand why he was being asked to do so.
    Some matches later, he noticed a change in his teammates and him. They were running faster, their reflexes improved considerably and their energy levels were high. The training routine remained the same. It was then that Sardar understood why John insisted that the team drank black coffee.
    It wasn’t easy for John and chief coach Michael Nobbs to convince a bunch of guys, who always gulped down glasses of lassi, to switch to black coffee. But it was necessary.
    “Black coffee acts as a stimulant and energises you... you turn out for your matches in a better frame of mind. It’s a physiological fact. It used to be a banned substance (by the World Anti-Doping Agency) for that very reason. But it’s not anymore and so, an hour before a match, the team has to have black coffee. They can also have plain milk without sugar,” John told DNA.
    The bitter drink alone is not the only reason why the team is among the fittest sides in the world.There has been a revolutionary change in the team’s training methods and a total overhaul of the diet.
    Unlike other teams, which prefer a carbohydrate-laden meal, the Indian players have been advised to increase their protein intake. Rice and potato, which used to be the core ingredient of each meal, are out. “It’s challenging for the vegetarians in the side (there are eight). However, they are good with their protein shakes,” John said.
    It wasn’t easy to convince the players. “Honestly, they didn’t a choice. After we won the first tournament (the Asian Champions Trophy in 2011) with this diet, they thought something’s going right. Maybe that’s why they adopted it. Had we lost, it would have been difficult to convince them. The win helped players realise the importance of diet,” said John, who has previously worked at the MRF pace academy in Chennai under Dennis Lillee.
    Nobbs and John have also introduced the concept of ‘hockey fitness’. The Australian duo has designed a programme which sees players at each position carry out specific exercises that optimises their performance. The full-backs and goalkeepers undergo exercises that involve a lot of lunging and lateral movement while the forwards are made to run more side-to-side. The training session lasts a maximum of 90 minutes.
   “In the past, they would run around athletic tracks and train more like field athletes. My fitness is developed through skills,” John said. “The results are visible. Our team can match any side fitness-wise. That gives a lot of confidence to the players and it translates on the field.”


Women's Hockey: New Zealand 1 Australia 0

The blue and pink Riverbank Arena was looking stunningly beautiful under the bright sunshine for the start of Olympic hockey. 
    The two teams from Oceania were first in action and the emotion of the players from New Zealand and Australia, who had trained for so long for this first match, was palpable during the anthems. 
    The Australians were nervous in the first minutes and conceded a penalty-corner on the first incursion of the New Zealanders in the circle, and Stacey Michelsen scored the first goal of the Olympic competition to give New Zealand an early lead.
    Australia quickly got rid of their early jitters and started to push back New Zealand on their heels. Megan Rivers thought that she had scored after the a superb run into the circle, but her powerful shot hit the post and nobody was on hand to use the rebound. 
    The game then settled in a balanced contest, between two teams very close in the FIH Rankings (6th for New Zealand, 7th for Australia) and knowing each other quite well.
    Anna Flanagan was close to tie the score for Australia with a powerful low shot on penalty-corner, but Black Sticks’ goalkeeper Bianca Russell saved it with an acrobatic dive. New Zealand successfully appealed to the video-umpire to avoid another penalty-corner late in the period, but were surprised in the last seconds by Anna Flanagan, who received a long ball behind the defense. Bianca Russell was once again up to the task and half-time was reached with the one-goal margin for New Zealand.
    The Black Sticks were once again faster off the starting blocks and Charlotte Harrison received an excellent ball from Katie Glynn but, alone in front of the goal, could not turn fast enough to beat Toni Cronk in the Australian goal. The match continued with end to end attacks, keeping well entertained the near capacity crowd, with very vocal contingents of Aussies and Kiwis. 
    Australia’s appeal to the video-umpire for a penalty-corner was rejected; however they soon played with an extra player when New Zealander Melody Cooper received a yellow card. They pushed forward, but the New Zealand defense weathered the storm quietly and the Aussies could not even generate a shot on goal.
    Despite playing short one player, New Zealand managed to force a penalty-corner after a long run by Gemma Flynn, but Katie Glynn’s flick was weak and the score did not evolve. With time running out, the Australians became more desperate in their attacks. Georgia Nanscawen, Casey Eastham and Hope Munro were very active upfront but the Black Sticks’ defense, efficiently backed by Bianca Russell, once again held tight.
     With two minutes to go, Australia replaced their goalkeeper with an extra field player. The gambit nearly paid off on their first attack, but it was too little too late and New Zealand earned the 3 points of the win on the benefit of their early goal.

(Yan Huckendubler)

Alexander the Kazakh Great!

After the stunning Opening Ceremony last night, all eyes have turned to the real Olympic action to see if the sport could provide the same kind of spectacle.
And if today's men's road race is anything to go by, Olympic fans are in for a memorable fortnight of twists, turns, and amazing surroundings.
The nail-biting race took in picturesque countryside and iconic London landmarks as cyclists ended the 156-mile course at breakneck pace.
Although the race ended in disappointment for Britain and favourite Mark Cavendish, the estimated one million fans who lined the route still created an electric atmosphere.

 Fight to the finish: Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov dashed Britain's hopes of an early gold medal by powering to victory over favourite Mark Cavendish

Dejected: Cavendish cannot hide his disappointment after finishing 29th in the race, as his girlfriend Peta Todd and their young daughter Delilah looked on

Banks of empty seats at key venues ..

Olympic bosses have promised to investigate major sponsors after banks of empty seats were spotted at several sold-out Games venues today.
Several high-profile venues, including the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park and the gymnastics arena in North Greenwich, had rows of empty seats during morning sessions on the first day of the Games.
Locog said they would be investigating why the seats were unfilled, while Lord Coe has reportedly promised to name and shame sponsors who did not find takers for the venues.