Category Archives: កីឡា

Day 13 Review: Ton-up Chen cheers China to seven heaven


Updated: 2008-08-22 02:27:06

Ton-up Chen cheers China to seven heaven
Robles poses with his medal. (Photo credit:Xinhua)

(BEIJING, August 21) — There were damp skies over Beijing on Day Thirteen of Beijing 2008 and barely a dry eye on the house as China‘s Chen Roulin produced a last-gasp dive to clinch the host’s seventh diving gold of the Games.

Ton-up Chen cheers China to seven heaven
Chen Ruolin competes. (Photo credit: Xinhua)

Elsewhere, the United States displayed the value of team work, by taking two team sport titles and a one, two, three on the track…just don’t mention the words “baton” and “drop” to them though.

But where else can we start Day Thirteen’s review than the National Aquatics Centre where 15 year-old Chen Roulin produced one of the stellar displays of Beijing 2008 by not just by winning the Women’s 10m Platform gold medal to keep China’s indomitable quest for eight gold medals on track, but by showing the true mark of a champion – by performing best when it mattered most – under pressure.

Chen may be World No. 1 with an Olympic Team gold medal safely tucked inside her kitbag, but when Emilie Heymans of Canada put in a remarkable fourth round dive worth 95.20, it was looking like as if Day Thirteen would prove unlucky for Chen and for China –this was the very same gold medal that evaded the country’s clutches at Athens in 2004.

That is when Chen responded like a great. A dive of 89.10 left her behind, going into the final round behind Heymans, who couldn’t quite repeat the magic of her previous effort. But it still looked good enough to win, that is, until Chen produced a near perfect dive with the last leap of the competition.

Despite the almost intolerable pressure mounted on such young shoulders, Chen’s final dive earned an amazing 100.30 points – enough to take the title with ease.

Disappointed Haymens could only look on with frustration – she leaves with yet another silver medal while Chen’s teammate Wang Xin took bronze…….so now it is China all down the Men’s 10m platform on Saturday (August 23). Surely they won’t miss out now, will they?

Another great story also happened in water today – this time, of human triumph over adversity – with a major surprise as Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands took the Men’s 10km Marathon Swimming gold medal at a rainy Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park.

The Dutch swimmer, who returned to competitive swimming after beating a battle with leukaemia, diagnosed seven years ago, overtook medal favorites David Davies of Great Britain and Thomas Lurz of Germany to win in a time of 1:51:51.6. Davies, the Athens 2004 Olympic 1500m bronze medalist, held on for the silver medal in a time of 1:51:53.1 and Lurz finished strongly to win the bronze medal in a time of 1:51:53.6. Pre-race favorite Russia‘s Vladimir Dyatchin, world champion in 2007 and 2008, was disqualified.

Ton-up Chen cheers China to seven heaven
Maarten van der Weijden swims. (Photo credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Also in the briney sea, the Beijing 2008 Sailing regatta came to a close at Qingdao with Great Britain collecting its third event gold medal thanks to Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson in the Star (Men’s Keelboat) boat class. Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada of Brazil earned silver with Fredrik Loof and Anders Ekstrom of Sweden, taking the bronze medal.

The Tornado (Multihull Mixed) race which was being staged for the final time, (it isn’t being contested at London 2012), went to Spaniards Fernando Echavarri and Anton Paz, who finished ahead of World No. 1 Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby of Australia, who took silver. The last podium place went to Santiago Lange and Carlos Espinola of Argentina .

Crawling up onto the sand, (well, Chaoyang Park in Beijing actually, but stick with the analogy), defending champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States retained the Olympic Women’s Beach Volleyball title by beating Tian Jia and Wang Jie of China in straight sets, 21-18, 21-18 in a final played in heavy rain. The bronze medal went to fellow Chinese duo Zhang Xi and Xue Chen, who beat Renata Ribeiro and Talita Rocha of Brazil in straight sets.

That was just one of four team sport finals contested by Team USA, or should it be, Teams USA?

The US women’s Football team made it three tournament wins in four Olympic Games after a 1-0 win against Brazil in the Women’s Football final after extra time. Carli Lloyd scored the all-important goal to give the US team back-to-back tournament victories. Germany beat Japan 2-0 to take the bronze medal with both goals scored by second-half substitute Fatmire Bajramaj.

The USA didn’t do too badly in two of the day’s women’s team sports semifinals either…

As expected, Team USA are through to the Women’s Basketball final, although their win against Russia by 67-52 wasn’t quite the romp of their other matches at Beijing 2008. Australia crushed China 90-56 in the other semifinal.

The US will also contest the Women’s Volleyball final after reversing its defeat to Cuba in the preliminary rounds. They will meet World No.1 Brazil who stormed into the final with a straight sets win against defending champions, China.

The Olympic Games bid Softball au revoir as Japan beat the United States 3-1 to win the last ever gold medal. Australia took bronze. Softball will not be on the Olympic roster at London 2012.

And not so good for the US Women’s Water Polo team either. Four goals in the opening four minutes helped the Netherlands defeat them 9-8 to win the gold medal at the Yingdong Natatorium. Although the United States fought back, bringing the score to 4-2 after the first quarter and 5-5 at half time, the Netherlands took back their lead in the third, and held on to win. Australia took the bronze medal by beating Hungary 12-11 after double extra time and a penalty shoot-out.

Finally, to round off the team sports action, how about one for the lads? World champions Germany beat the Netherlands 2-1 (on penalty strokes) in the Men’s Hockey semifinals, and will meet Spain in the final, which overturned a 2-0 deficit to defeat 2004 Athens gold medalists Australia, 3-2.

Elsewhere, the weather also put paid the day’s planned two BMX Cycling finals which have been rescheduled for Friday August 22; Eric Lamaze of Canada beat Rolf-Goran Bengtsson of Sweden in a jump-off to win gold in the Individual Jumping competition – the last Equestrian event of Beijing 2008. Show Jumping is also one of the disciplines in the five-event Modern Pentathlon too, where Andrey Moiseev of Russia succesfully defended his Men’s crown ahead of Lithuanians Edvinas Krungolcas and Andrejus Zadneprovskis who took the silver and bronze medals.

Moving indoors, the Beijing 2008 Wrestling competition closed with three Men’s Freestyle finals: at 84kg, Georgia‘s Revazi Mindorashvili clinched his country’s second wrestling gold of the Games by beating Yusup Abdusalomov, who made Olympic history by winning Tajikistan‘s first ever Olympic silver medal; Shirvani Muradov won Russia’s sixth wrestling gold of the Games at 96kg; and Artur Taymazov earned Uzbekistan‘s first gold medal at Beijing 2008 by defending his 120 kilogram crown.

Two more Taekwondo gold medals were handed out on the second day of four. Lim Su-jeong of the Republic of Korea beat Azize Tanrikulu of Turkey to claim the Women’s Taekwondo under-57kg division and Son Tae-jin of the Republic of Korea took gold in the Men’s -68kg division.

There was a shock in the Men’s Table Tennis Singles third round, when Ko Lai-chak of Hong Kong China, ranked No. 32 in the world, beat the reigning Olympic champion Ryu Seung-min of the Republic of Korea, 4-2. In the Women’s Singles quarterfinals all three Chinese contenders, Zhang Yining, Guo Yue and Wang Nan, got through but only after difficult duels with their respective opponents. The remaining semifinal spot went to Li Jiawei of Singapore

And so to the day’s athletics action ….

Well, this was supposed to be Liu Xiang’s night in the Men’s 110 Hurdles final – but he was absent due to injury. Would he have prevented world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba from winning Olympic gold? The simple answer is we’ll never know – one thing is for sure, the 21 year-old Cuban was too good for his rivals as he won in a time of 12.93 seconds — just 0.06 seconds off the world record he set in June this year.

The silver medal went to David Payne of the United States, whose teammate David Oliver took bronze.

LeShawn Merritt enjoyed an equally emphatic victory in the Men’s 400m – leading the charge for a United States one, two, three with teammates Jeremy Wariner, the pre-race favorite, and David Neville, who literally threw himself at the line to take the bronze medal.

“Fear is not something I bring to the track,” said defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica after retaining her Women’s 200m title. Once again, Athens silver medalist Allyson Felix of the United States trailed in Campbell-Brown’s wake. Another Jamaican, Kerron Stewart, who tied for the silver in Sunday’s 100m final, took bronze.

In the Men’s Triple Jump Nelson Evora of Portugal produced a fourth round leap of 17.67m to take gold, with Great Britian’s Phillips Idowu, the event favorite and early leader, unable to respond — he couldn’t better his third round effort of 17.62, which left him collecting the silver medal, with the bronze medal going to Leevan Sands of the Bahamas.

Barbora Spotakova of Czech Republic won the Women’s Javelin Throw gold medal with a throw of 71.42 meters, while earlier in the day 23-year-old world champion Olga Kaniskina won Russia’s first Women’s 20km Walk gold medal in an Olympic best time of one hour 26.31 minutes. Norway‘s Kjersti Tysse Platzer came in second, holding off bronze medalist Elisa Rigaudo of Italy.

Athens silver medalist Bryan Clay of the United States leads the Men’s Decathlon after day one with a total of 4521 points from the first five disciplines. Belarus‘s Andrei Krauchanka stands second with 4433 points and Trey Hardee also of the USA in third on 4428 points.

Not such good news for the United States in the qualifying round of the Men’s and Women’s 4 x 100m though. Bizarrely both their teams are out after dropping the baton, with an exchange between Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay leaving the Men’s baton hurtling to the track, only for the fumble-fingered US women – Torri Edwards and Lauryn Williams the guilty parties – to do precisely the same.

In other heats, Kenya‘s Nancy Jebet Langat was the top qualifier in the Women’s 1500m semifinals. Vadims Vasilevskis of Latvia was the top qualifier in the Men’s Javelin Throw, while defending Olympic champion Elena Slesarenko of Russia and world champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia are through to the Women’s High Jump final.

Wow, what a day that was! Unlucky Day Thirteen for some (Heymans), one of dropped batons (for the USA) and a day when China just may just have found itself a new diving diva.

Ton-up Chen cheers China to seven heaven
Veronica Campbell-Brown in jubilation (Photo credit: Guo Dayue/Xinhua)
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Women’s Beach Volleyball Day 10 Review: US pair rocks Beijing


Updated: 2008-08-21 14:21:46

Beijing dancing to the tune of the rock 'n' roll couple
Misty May-Treanor (L) spikes. (Photo credit: Xinhua)

(BEIJING, August 21) — Today the American duo of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor proved that they are the best-ever team in the history of the fledgling Olympic sport. By beating China‘s Wang Jie and Tian Jia in the final of the Women’s Beach Volleyball competition, Walsh and May-Treanor won their second gold medal and remained undefeated in Olympic competition.

It is anticipation and speed which set Walsh and May-Treanor apart. They are always thinking one step ahead, which allows them to save more points than most. There was one piece of play today when the hulking Wang jumped up and prepared to fire her fist into the ball, but the 188cm-tall Walsh had already turned around and was motoring towards the back of the court.

For a woman of her height, Walsh is incredibly fast. And she complements her speed by having a great spike and block. May-Treanor, on the other hand, is the quiet achiever. She cruises around the court with murderous efficiency, using Walsh to carry out hits on the opposition. With their tattoos and wild eyes, Walsh and May-Treanor are the rock ‘n’ roll couple of Olympic sport.

Beijing dancing to the tune of the rock 'n' roll couple
Wang Jie/Tian Jia, Kerri Walsh/Misty May-Treanor and Xue Chen/Zhang Xi.(Photo credit: Getty Images)

This of course, couldn’t be more different from their opponents today. China seems to abound with tall women who can whack balls at high speeds, but their ball play is not always creative.

Some of Tian’s serves today were so hard and flat that even May-Treanor could do nothing but let the ball thud into her forearm. Despite their impressive serves, Tian and Wang could not prevent Walsh and May-Treanor from outplaying them at the end of each set.

China has improved a lot at Beach Volleyball, but its teams still lack the vim that Walsh and May-Treanor so clearly possess.

However, the silver and bronze medals that China won today are the country’s first in Olympic Beach Volleyball – a sure sign that there are now three spokes in the wheel of the women’s competition. Following the loss of Brazil‘s Renata Ribeiro and Talita Rocha in today’s bronze medal match against China’s Zhang Xi and Xue Chen, Brazil is without a medal in Women’s Beach Volleyball for the first time since the sport was introduced to the Olympics at Atlanta 1996. However, this should not be seen as a sign of Brazil’s imminent demise, but a sign that China has arrived as a serious player.

It is still unclear whether Walsh and May-Treanor intend to compete at London 2012. If they can maintain their high levels of speed and anticipation, then they have a strong chance of winning a third gold medal. As they have proven in Beijing, the gap between them and the rest of the field is as wide as ever.

Amputee swimmer completes 10K marathon


BEIXIAOYING TOWN, China (AP) — Natalie du Toit pulled herself onto the dock and waited for someone to bring her prosthetic leg. She stretched out the other leg — the one she didn’t lose in that horrendous motorcycle accident — and chatted with her coach about the first open water race in Olympic history.

Natalie du Toit prepares for the Women´s 10km Marathon at the Shunyi Rowing and Canoeing Park on August 19.

Natalie du Toit prepares for the Women´s 10km Marathon at the Shunyi Rowing and Canoeing Park on August 19.

Du Toit didn’t finish where she wanted. Not even close.

But just making it to Beijing was a huge victory for anyone who’s ever faced a disability.

Hoping to contend for a medal, the 24-year-old South African amputee fell off the pace toward the end of the grueling 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) race and finished 16th, more than a minute behind gold medalist Larisa Ilchenko of Russia.

“I tried my best,” du Toit said. “I’m not too happy with it, but I’ll be back for 2012.”

Don’t bet against her.

When she walked out with 24 other swimmers to be introduced for the historic event, it was quickly apparent this wasn’t just another competitor.

Du Toit hobbled along stiffly on her artificial leg, No. 23 written on her back and both arms. While others bounced up and down to loosen up, she settled for shaking her arms. A couple of times, she walked over to the edge to splash water on her face and goggles, leaning over tenuously with her metal prosthetic sticking out to the side, serving as balance.

When it was time to race, she walked onto the dock and removed her replacement leg. Someone moved it away, and du Toit sat at the edge of the water, her right leg dangling in. When the starter called for everyone to get ready, she pulled herself up, wobbled just a bit and dove in.

She was an Olympian.

Du Toit hung with the lead pack most of the race, but couldn’t keep up when the pace quickened toward the end of the two-hour ordeal. She finished 1 minute, 22.2 seconds behind Ilchenko, who out-sprinted two British swimmers who led most of the way.

But du Toit’s time of 2 hours, 49 minutes, 9 seconds put her ahead of nine others, including 16-year-old American Chloe Sutton, who broke down in tears after finishing, every part of her body cramping and aching.

“I’ve got to get faster,” said du Toit, who looked like she could swim another 10 kilometers. “The race will obviously improve. This is the first time they’ve swum it at the Olympics. It’s going to get faster and faster.”

An up-and-coming swimmer who just missed qualifying for the Sydney Games, du Toit’s life took a tragic turn in 2001. Returning to school on a motorbike after a training session, she collided with a car and sustained massive injuries to her left leg. Doctors tried for a week to save it but finally had to amputate at the knee.

Instead of giving up on her athletic career, du Toit was back in the water six months later. Swimming made her feel whole again, but she wasn’t competitive with able-bodied athletes in the pool, where the legs are vital for starts and turns.

Along came open water, which was added to the program for Beijing. There are no flip turns to negotiate in marathon swimming, which is usually held in lakes and oceans, and the upper body is more important than the legs.

Du Toit had found her new calling. She qualified for the Olympics with a fourth-place finish at the world championships in Spain this year.

“I find it hard, and I’m a completely able-bodied person,” said Cassandra Patten, who won bronze in the race held at the Olympic rowing and canoeing course. “She’s an amazing role model.”

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Ilchenko praised du Toit for not letting her disability hold her back. She was right in there battling with everyone else in a race that’s often called wrestling in the water for its rough tactics.

“I’d even go so far as to award her a separate medal,” the winner said through a translator. “I have enormous respect for her. It is exceedingly hard. Just looking at these people inspires you.”

Beijing welcomes world to 2008 Olympic Games


Updated: 2008-08-09 02:44:31

A general view is seen
A general view is seen while Sarah Brightman and Liu Huan sing on top of a large globe during the Opening Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

(BEIJING, 8 August) — China welcomed the world to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on Friday with the roll of thunder from two thousand fou drums and a battering of fireworks across the Chinese capital — from the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square to the National Stadium.

Fourteen thousand performers offered the 91,000 people in the National Stadium, popularly known as the ‘Bird’s Nest,’ a history lesson in China’s contribution to world civilization. The spectators that packed the stadium held the first of some seven million tickets to the 2008 Beijing Games, in which nearly 11,000 athletes will jump, run, cycle, fight, swim, sail, ride and shoot their way to Olympic glory.

The Opening Ceremony began with a 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 countdown in the Beijing dusk. Then a roar of thunder came from the floor of the National Stadium where 2,008 drummers beat line after line of fou, an ancient Chinese percussion instrument. The drummers chanted as they struck the fou, “Friends have come from afar, how happy we are.” This phrase comes from the work of Confucius (551 BC-479 BC), one China’s most important educators and thinkers.

Then came the fireworks.

A general view of drummers
A general view of drummers performing during the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics at the National Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo credit: Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

To begin, 29 huge firework displays were shot up into the air across the four axis of the ancient capital: the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, and just above the National Stadium. The impressive firework display was intended to remind viewers of China’s legacy as the civilization that invented gunpowder, first used in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1276 AD).

As the firework footprints reached the Bird’s Nest they illuminated the Olympic Rings in the stadium bringing a resounding round of applause from the audience.

Few could see the steel wires and pulleys that carried fairies across the sky above the Olympic rings.

In the second act, children representing each of China’s 56 minority groups carried the five-starred national flag across the stadium to soldiers who were waiting to hoist it onto one of two flagpoles nearby. After the flag was raised, all joined in the singing of the Chinese national anthem, ‘The March of the Volunteers.’

Fireworks go off after the torch
Fireworks go off after the torch is lit during the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics at the National Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The second flagpole awaited the Olympic flag.

The next section of the Opening Ceremony paid homage to China’s contribution to the world’s writing heritage. Almost 900 performers came together to create characters with their bodies.

In one act, the performers danced across a stadium-length scroll of paper, creating an ink painting in their path. Next, 100s of men inside boxes bobbed up and down to create the Chinese character ‘he,’ which in Chinese means both harmony and peace.

The next section mingled celebrated forms of Chinese Opera with themes brought from China’s ancient Silk Road traditions in a performance of music and color.

An art performance of the 'Beautiful Olympics'
Photo taken on Aug. 8, 2008 shows the art performance of the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, titled “Beautiful Olympics”, in the National Stadium in Beijing, China. (Photo credit: Xinhua)

Before the audience was able to digest the artistic presentation of China’s ancient past, the second section of the performance, entitled ‘Beautiful Olympics,’ which underlined aspects of modern China, began.

A thousand illuminated dancers formed a dove of peace that then broke up, regrouping to form of human-web that replicated the lattice structure of the ‘Bird’s Nest.’

The processional section of the ceremony began with a shattering display of shadow boxing martial arts and magnificent images of man and nature.

By tradition, the Greek Athletes led the 204 competing National Olympic Committees (NOC) teams into the stadium in a marching order dictated by the order of strokes in each country’s Chinese name.

The Chinese delegation was the last to enter the stadium. Chinese flag bearer Yao Ming, accompanied by Ling Hao, a 9-year-old survivor from the Sichuan earthquake, led the Chinese delegation into the stadium.

Each athlete walked over a paper scroll on the floor of the stadium, leaving their footprints on what then became the Protocol Platform for the Olympic speeches. Clapping dancers and cheering athletes greeted the entry of the five-ringed Olympic Flag, as children sang the Olympic anthem and fireworks sparkled in the sky.

Liu Qi, President of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), welcomed the athletes. “Hosting an Olympic Games has been a century-old dream for the Chinese nation,” he said. Adding, “A prime mission of the Beijing Olympic Games is to enhance cultural exchanges between peoples throughout the world.”

IOC President Jacques Rogge added his welcome, telling China that the world was grieving with China and the millions who lost family members or were displaced in the tragic earthquake in China’s Sichuan province. “We were moved by the great courage and solidarity of the Chinese people,” he said. “As one dream, may these Olympic Games bring you joy, hope, and pride.”

Then China’s President Hu Jintao formally declared the opening of the Games.

Eight flag bearers – Zhang Xielin, Pan Duo, Zheng Fengrong, Yang Yang, Yang Ling, Mu Xiangxiong, Xiong Ni and Li Lingwei then circled the stadium with the Olympic flag, which was raised as 80 children sang the Olympic Anthem in Greek.

Women’s table tennis player Zhang Yining then read the Athletes’ Oath on behalf of all competitors.

Li Ning lights cauldron of Beijing Olympic Games
Former Chinese gymnastics star Li Ning carries the Olympic flame as he is lifted to the air during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games in the National Stadium in north Beijing, China, Aug. 8, 2008. (Photo credit: Xinhua)

Then, the moment that more than 91,000 audience members and billions more around the world had been waiting for arrived – the Olympic Torch appeared– carried around the arena by eight torchbearers.

The 7th bearer, champion Volleyball player Sun Jinfang, passed the flame to legendary Chinese gymnast Li Ning, who was hoisted high into the air to “run” along the roof’s edge. When he reached the cauldron that had unfurled during the athlete’s march through the stadium, a burst of flame lit up the sky.

The Ceremony ended with another magnificent fireworks display staged by a total of 600 engineers from hundreds of locations around the city, some as far away as the Great Wall of China.

Opening on 8th day of the 8th month of 2008, the 18-day-long Olympic Games will take place in 37 different venues, and will award a grand total of 302 Olympic medals to the winning athletes.