Drechsler shatters Marion Jones’ dream
Indians bow out with sub-par performances
India finish seventh
South Korea’s date with hockey history
Indians have shown improvement, there’s hope for A
Altiama may come good again
‘Scholar’ wins
‘Surprise’ shines

 
 
DRECHSLER SHATTERS MARION JONES’ DREAM 
 
 
FROM SUJIT BHAR
 
Sydney, Sept. 29: 
Marion Jones’ dream of five gold medals will now not be fulfilled. At the long jump pit this charismatic US star fouled her first, fourth, fifth and sixth jump — step faults — and yet finished with a bronze at 6.92m. The gold went to Heike Drechsler of Germany who also fouled three jumps but managed a best of 6.99m for gold. Italy’s Fiona May also jumped 6.92m but got it without fouling even one jump. She won silver on a countback from Jones.

At 35, Drechsler, former world record-holder, 1992 Olympic and 1983 and 1993 world champion, also became the oldest-ever woman long jump gold medalist. She secured her gold in the third jump.

There was an upset on the track today as Kenyan Noah Ngeny upset Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj in the 1,500m in an Olympic record time of 3:32.07.

The other track event decided today also went to Kenya, Reuben Kosegi taking the 3,000m steeplechase gold off compatriot and the more famous Wilson Boit Kipketer.

Jones jumped well today but perhaps it was her unusual style of running in which she has her head down for nearly a second after takeoff, that took her eyes off that thin bar that is the target for takeoff.

Drechsler was off to a 6,48m start in her first jump and May had 6.76m, but Jones fouled. It was to Jones credit, though, that she was not perturbed by this and went on to 6.68 on her second try and 6.92 on her third. By the third, though after a foul, Drechsler had reached her gold medal distance of 6.99m and May her silver distance of 6.92m. The third jumps were the best for all three. It was not a strong fare, and the 7m mark remained too far off. The Olympic record still stands in the name of Jackie Joyner-Kersee at 7.40m (1988).

By the time Drechsler had started off on her sixth and final attempt, she was already assured of the gold, May and Jones having finished their respective final jumps.

Jones later said, “It is not that I handed it to Heike, she had to jump extremely well for the gold. I jumped aggressively, that’s my style and that was the plan. It didn’t work out for me, but I have to accept that. As I said, it was never going to be easy. It’s just that Heike was better today. Now I have to refocus and win the relays.”

She said she was “surely disappointed on not winning the five golds, but it didn’t come out right. I’ve got no regrets.”

Drechsler said she couldn’t believe she won the gold “and I am very happy that I beat Marion Jones and I’m very, very excited to be a gold medalist.”

The 1,500m result was a major upset for Guerrouj who went into the 1996 Olympic final as the favourite but fell with one lap remaining. The world record holder had not lost a race since the IAAF Grand Prix final in 1997, but in past months he has been troubled by a leg injury and after the race, he went out in pain and in tears, his upper thigh in an ice pack.

After a fast first lap and slow second (54.14 to 60.63) El Guerrouj took over the lead with 600m remaining, Noah in tow. Noah made his move with 80m to go and edged past the world champion with 15m to go.

The steeplechase was as exciting. Three Kenyan, Kosgei, Kipketer and Bernard Barmasai were in the lead at the final obstacle as Kosgei pulled away at the last moment from Kipketer to win.

Poland’s 17-year-old prodigy Kamila Skolimowska won the women’s hammer gold with a world junior record distance of 71.16m. This was the first ever gold in this event, introduced this year. Favourite Olga Kuzenkova, 30, of Russia, won silver at 69.77m. Kuzonkova was a poor loser and immature enough to make faces at the winner on the victory podium as the great Hassiba Boulmerka gave away the prizes.

Skolimowska whose second best effort of 69.91m was also better than anybody else, was also the youngest winner of an Olympic throwing event since Mihaela Penos of Romania won the javelin in 1964. Kamila’s father Robert was junior world weightlifting champion in 1976.

The pole vault was monopolised by the US. Nick Hyson won the gold and Lawrence Johnson the silver, with 1992 Olympic and 1999 world champion Maksin Tarasov third. All reached 5.90m, but Hyson did it in his first attempt, Johnson on his second and Tarasov in his third.

That win made it a pole vault double for the US, Stacey Dragila having already won the woman’s version.

In the morning, Robert Korzeniowski of Poland, who had earlier won the 20km walk, today also claimed gold in the 50km walk at 3:44:22 to make a double. Only Marion Jones has had a double gold so far.    


 
 
INDIANS BOW OUT WITH SUB-PAR PERFORMANCES 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Sydney, Sept. 29: 
Indian athletes stuck to their true colours today, finishing rock-bottom or thereabouts in the five events they took part in.

Women’s javelin thrower Gurmeet Kaur managed a tame 52.78m in her first throw, before running out of energy and moving down to more comfortable ranges of 48.80m and 46.46m. She finished in 17th position, the top three qualifiers not even visible on the horizon.

As it has been with all athletes here, and not surprising any more, Gurmeet’s life best has been a 58.64m, which is yet to be ratified as a national record. The existing national record is in her name at 55.86m, set in Chennai in 1999. Her life best would have fetched Gurmeet a ninth position in these qualifiers. That, too, would have left her way back from the qualifiers. The top woman to qualify from this group A was Germany’s Steffi Nerius, at 65.76m.

The relay teams performed as per current, revised expectations, all in round one heats.

The 400m men’s team (Thrignana Durai, Rajeev Balakrishnan, Ajay Raj Singh and P. Anil Kumar), cleared hastily for very unclear reasons, however ran a decent time, though was at sea in a pool of first class talents. Their timing of 40.23 seconds could fetch them only a low seventh spot.

The women’s 400m relay squad, comprising V. Jayalakshmi, Vinita Tripathi, Saraswati Dey and Rachita Mistry, were way off the national record of 44.43 seconds, set by almost the same team at the Asian Track and Field meet in Fukuoka in 1998. They finished sixth in the six-team round one heat, timing a poor 45.20 seconds.

The 4x400m relays were also disastrous. True, there was no baton exchange mess-up at any stage, but the women (Paramjit Kaur, Jincy Philips, K.C. Rosa Kutty and K.M. Beenamol) finished a poor sixth at 3:31:46, despite Beenamol’s late rush. The men (Lijo David Thottan, K. Jata Shankar, P. Ramachandran and Paramjit Singh) were fourth in their heat at 3:08:38, but then the Algerian and Qatar teams were disqualified in the six-team race.

Sri Lanka finished top in this race and moved into the semi-finals, where they moved out off a strong field of Nigeria, Britain, Australia, Russia and Ukraine, finishing sixth.

It may be noted here that the Indian 1600m men’s quartet’s national record has been 3:02:62, set at the Bangkok Asian Games. The Sri Lankan team went to the semis at 3:06:25, and in the semis, they hit 3:02:89. India’s Bangkok time could have put them in fifth position, ahead of Ukraine in the semis.

That is a very disturbing thought.    


 
 
INDIA FINISH SEVENTH 
 
 
FROM SUJIT BHAR
 
Sydney, Sept. 29 : 
It’s at least a notch better than at the Atlanta Games. India today defeated Argentina 3-1 and finished seventh in the Olympic hockey championship.

The crowd was still around, and the cheering hadn’t died. For the first time India did manage a decent attack line, and were ahead 1-0 in the first-half, through Deepak Thakur. Sukhbir Singh Gill made it 2-0 after the breather before Argentina threw one back through Jorge Lombi and Dhanraj Pillay got his first goal at Sydney 2000.

The performer of the day was, however, Baljit Singh Dhillon, relaying to vital zones all the initiative that came his way. He did miss a couple, as well, though. In the 29th minute, Baljit Singh Saini forwarded charge to Dhillion in the D and at the goalmouth. The chance, however, went abegging as Dhillon failed to overcome a late challenge.

Dhillon made amends a minute later when he moved up the left and passed to Thakur at the goalmouth. There was a weak challenge by a defender which Thakur overcame easily and scored with a push. Dhillon did it again three minutes later, when he again sought out Thakur at the goalmouth, but the latter’s hit was padded back by goalkeeper Pablo Moreira.

Into the second session, the attacks grew at both ends. Lombi’s charge was thwarted before Dhillon and Thakur landed a series of raids with Sameer Dad pitching in as well. All that within the ninth minute of changeover. That was the best part of the match, vis-à-vis India, probably after a sequence and a bit of understanding between the half-line and the centre-forwards — visible for the first time after the Australia match and, to an extent, after the one versus Spain. Then, in the 46th minute, Gill got a feed from the rear and sent a fine hit for India’s second goal.

Argentina counter-attacked immediately, but Matias Vila missed from close. They kept up the pressure on the Indian defence and forced a penalty corner in the 51st minute. Lombi converted that with ease. In fact, Argentina forced three penalty corners in quick time in which Santiago Capurro’s shot was saved by Jude Menezes, and off Lombi there was a no shot and one a bad miss.

It was too thin a cushion for India and they had learnt, especially off the Poland experience, not to take this casually. In the 29th minute of the half, Dhillon was up the left again and into the D. He looked up for a fraction of a second to find Pillay and Thakur very well placed and tapped to the goalmouth. Pillay hit in off a scuffle. There were a couple of Argentine attacks thereafter, but the wind, it was evident, had gone out of their sails.

That was as poor a finishing as any for India, a team that had come here with great promise and had started on a fine note too. India walloped Argentina 3-0 in their first match to avenge their Atlanta defeat, a first match loss that had put them in such a mess and had them finishing eighth.

Interestingly, they could well have been facing a stronger team had South Africa not pulled out citing inadequate preparation and Argentina stepped in.

In the press conference immediately after that first match coach Vasudevan Baskaran had hinted at wrong strategies in Atlanta where he was not the coach. Baskaran has been with the team since about a decade now, but that was a period when he had been quite unceremoniously removed from his post. The press conference after the first match was a sort of ‘getting back’ act at the officials.

On a high, India went into their next pool match, versus hosts Australia. That was a match in which India put their stamp of superiority on these Games, leading before letting the Aussies in to draw 2-2. It was a spirited display by India and it then seemed India were definitely in for a semis berth.

The next match, versus South Korea, changed all that. India went into that match bubbling with confidence and a trifle overconfident because of their win over the Koreans in the Asian Games. That was two years ago, and the Koreans threw everything they had at the Indians. They were like a suicide squad, jumping at everything and daring every shot. That 0-2 loss did no good to India’s morale, though a 3-2 victory over Spain erased much of that bad feeling. Not that Spain presented themselves as any great team to beat, but the effect was good.

Having played that match, India knew what had to be done, and as it turned out India had to just beat Poland to move into the last four stage. They led till the 69th minute and then skipper Ramandeep Singh let go one slip and that was the end of it.

The 1-2 defeat at the hands of Britain in yesterday’s fifth-sixth place match was also shocking. Britain had been the whipping boys of pool A before coming back and shocking Germany. That defeat meant India does not qualify for the next Champions Trophy, in Lahore.

It will again be that long, long climb back for Indian hockey, if at all.

What these Games showed though was that the balance in hockey power is shifting. South Koreans are no more the upstarts, even the Netherlands had a tough time in the semis, and Germany are no more the same. Spain are down in the dumps again, the Poles have been unpredictable, and Australia need to reduce their line-up. Pakistan have too many ups and downs to be called steadyanymore, and hockey, overall is finally into the realm of physical ability.

Germany later finished fifth, beating Britain 4-0 in their classification match.    


 
 
SOUTH KOREA’S DATE WITH HOCKEY HISTORY 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Sydney, Sept. 29: 
Tomorrow is the South Korean hockey team’s day of reckoning. It will be the first time in its history that this nation will be featuring in an Olympic gold match, and that too versus the holders, Netherlands. Despite the obvious reputation of the Netherlands, everyone has his fingers crossed, having seen so far what South Korea are able to produce with sheer determination and pure physical fitness.

Of the six matches they have played, Korea have conceded seven goals, four of them off penalty corners and one off a penalty stroke. The never-say-die Koreans have kept the field goal percentage rather low.

They seemed to have found a way out of this, when they beat Pakistan in the semis. They were rushing out to penalty corner expert Sohail Abbas’ shot and even taking them on their body, if necessary, but just would not let any in.

Korean manager Sang Ryul Kim has pointed out that he had four players ready for this purpose. “In case one gets injured, the other gets a chance.”

The military level of preparation is not common in hockey circles and the Netherlands could be in with a surprise.

On the flip side, though, the Koreans have not been too successful with penalty corner conversions. Their highest scorer, Seung-Tae Song has scored four goals, of them three from 14 penalty corners. Their goal success rate otherwise too stays a trifle below expectation. But the Korean team performs as one, and gives its best every time.

The defending champions haven’t really been cruising here. They started with a 4-2 win over Britain, but Malaysia held them goalless. They beat Canada 5-2 , but drew 2-2 against Germany.

They would have been in a spot, but the topsy turvy pool allowed them to stay in fine fettle for the semi-final berth. That was when Pakistan needed to beat them make the semis. Pakistan did just that, 2-0, and the myth of the powerhouse that the Netherlands are believed to be was busted.

To cap it all, there was this laboured penalty stroke win over Australia in the semi-final, a match that could have gone either way. Looks like the defence will hold the key in the gold match tomorrow.    


 
 
INDIANS HAVE SHOWN IMPROVEMENT, THERE’S HOPE FOR A 
 
 
LEANDER PAES
 
 
At one point of time we thought India could have left the Olympics with three medals. But eventually it was only one, the bronze won by Karnam Malleswari.

If there was heartbreak in hockey, it was repeated in the boxing ring when Gurcharan Singh lost after fighting very bravely. Two medals would have made a big difference to us, especially since we haven’t won so many.

But having said that, I tend to take a different view. Although every athlete knows that winning a tournament or taking home an Olympic medal is the established yardstick of success, I think when players or teams don’t win medals but show improvement, that is significant too.

By that measure India have had a good Games. The hockey team played well, the shooters were very impressive and Gurcharan did better than any Indian boxer ever has. It shows there’s hope for the future, that with better training, more hard work and yes, a little bit of luck, we could win more than just one medal in Athens 2004.

Remember when I won in Atlanta, it had been 52 years since India had won an individual medal. Now we’ve won a medal in successive Olympics and that has to be viewed as an improvement.

I believe that to be a force in world sport, India have to plan better. The more I travel the world, especially through advanced sporting nations like America, the more I note how systematic and organised they are. They don’t believe in chance, they believe in method. Sure there are numerous reasons why America produce so many athletes but professionalism is certainly one of the primary factors.

India’s challenge aside, this has truly been a great Games. Atlanta will obviously hold special memories for me, but Sydney has been a triumph.

Having most of the venues in one area has made it not just convenient, but given rise to a terrific Olympic spirit. Unlike Atlanta where spectators rarely mixed, here hundreds of thousands of people collect everyday, sharing the joy of the Games, giving Sydney great energy. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

I also think the volunteers have been a major factor, the heart of the Games. Every morning people greet you with a smile and a ‘G’day mate.’ They joke, they chat and they seem genuinely interested in people from other countries. If India is known for being a hospitable nation, the Australians will provide them stiff competition.

From the athletes’ point of view as well, the Games were neatly organised. The Athletes Village seemed as if it was built from scratch and the rooms were clean and comfortable, and though this may seem irrelevant it certainly is not. For the athlete to perform at his best at the Olympics, everything has to be taken into consideration, including his environment.

For basketball players, many of whom are seven-footers, to come to a Games and find that their beds are 12 inches too short (as once happened before) means every night brings uncomfortable sleep. In the morning, it’s bound to show on the court.

But every detail seems to have been thought of. For instance when I arrived, I was given a small circular metal disc, like every athlete was. It’s like a fake coin. So if people had to pay $2 in coins to buy a Coca-Cola from a vending machine, we just had to put in this disc, and out came the Coke and the disc to be re-used.

In fact, people are so much in love with Sydney that there’s a joke going around that hopefully Athens won’t be ready in 2004. Then we’ll be back here.    


 
 
ALTIAMA MAY COME GOOD AGAIN 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
 
Although promoted following his runaway victory, the Steinbeck-Stomata four-year-old Altiama could be trusted to win the 1,400m Sunny Downs Trophy at the Pune races on Saturday. Aslam Kader partners the Bezan Chenoy-trained gelding.

SELECTIONS

2.15 pm: Amber Brown 1. Enharmonic 2. Red Rock 3.

2.45 pm: Double Impact 1. Capitulate 2.

3.15 pm: Rapallo 1. Ride The Lightning 2. Knoxville 3.

3.45 pm: Sicalade 1. Simply Noble 2. Wolf Mountain 3.

4.15 pm: Anjolie 1. Earth Song 2. Way Beyond .

4.45 pm:Altiama 1. Spice Boy 2. Immaculate 3.

5.15 pm: Piaget 1. Venus 2. Zee Green 3.

5.45 pm: Soviet Sea 1. Gagan Glory 2. Curio’s Baby 3.

Day’s Best: Amber Brown Double: Double Impact & Altiama    


 
 
‘SCHOLAR’ WINS 
 
 
BY TITAN BOY
 
 
The Robert Foley-trained Imperial Scholar claimed the Governor’s Gold Cup in Mysore on Friday. B. Prakash partnered the winner.

RESULTS

(With inter-state dividends) 1. Bhadravathi Plate 1,200m: (3-8-2) Dad’s Joy (Arun) 1; Ericsson 2; Super Ace 3. Won by: 3/4; SH; (1-15.6). Tote: Win Rs 129; Place: 40; 90; 20; Quinella: 2,254; Tanala: 24,867. Fav: Super Ace (2).

2. Commanche Plate 1,100m: (5-7-8) Catch Word (Hesnain) 1; Hoyo Hoyo 2; Golden Days 3. Not run: Hilary (4). Won by: 1-1/2; 1-3/4; (1-8.9). Tote: Win Rs 52; Place: 17; 19; 25; Quinella: 112; Tanala: 1,457.Fav: Passionaria (6).

3. Hyderabad Race Club Gold Cup, Div-II 1,200m: (1-3-5) Augill Castle (Nagesh) 1; Soldier Of Fortune 2; Calculus 3. Won by: 2; 4-1/2; (1-14.3). Tote: Win Rs 52; Place: 16; 13; 32; Quinella: 49; Tanala: 545. Fav: Paddock Princess (6).

4. Mandya Plate 1,100m: (5-4-7) Gallant Romeo (Abraham) 1; Breaking News 2; Be My Star 3. Won by: 5-1/2; 3-3/4; (1-5.7). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 13; 13; 67; Quinella: 37; Tanala: 777. Fav: Gallant Romeo (5).

5. Hyderabad Race Club Gold Cup, Div-I 1,200m: (9-4-3) Splendid Chance (Prakash) 1; Grisogono 2; Frontier Hero 3. Not run: Chuck Berry (6). Won by: 5-3/4; 2; (1-13.6). Tote: Win Rs 74; Place: 30; 19; 27; Quinella: 224; Tanala: 2,198. Fav: Volcano (2).

6. Governor’s Gold Cup 2,000m: (2-10-4) Imperial Scholar (Prakash) 1; Sterling Fantasy 2; Ace Academy 3. Won by: 1-1/2; 2-1/2; (2-9.1). Tote: Win Rs 97; Place: 25; 16; 49; Quinella: 369; Tanala: 17,516. Fav: Baffin Bay (7).

7. Sanctity Gold Trophy 1,400m: (7-3-2) Akasaka (Shakti) 1; Annatto 2; One So Wonderful 3. Won by: 3-1/4; 4-1/2; (1-26). Tote: Win Rs 111; Place: 29; 12; 18; Quinella: 98; Tanala: 1,005. Fav: Annatto (3).

8. Lalithamahal Plate 1,600m: (5-8-4) King’s Common (Krishnan) 1; Self Esteem 2; Key Witness 3. Won by: 1/2; SH; (1-42.1). Tote: Win Rs 113; Place: 33; 27; 16; Quinella: 438; Tanala: 3,816. Fav: Placid Ark (3).

Jackpot: Rs 1,00,779 (Carried over); (C) Rs 12,957.

Treble: (i) Rs 1,097; (ii) Rs 18,209.    


 
 
‘SURPRISE’ SHINES 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Sept. 29: 
Endless Surprise was impressive when the following track-work was noted yesterday:

Outer sand track

1,600m: Analyzer (Upadhya) and Ashbury (C. Alford) in 2-0s; (800m) 1-1 (400m) 29s. Former a length better. Both were easy.

1,400m: Supreme Desire (C. Alford) and Abstract (Upadhya) in 1-47s; (400m) 27s. Former a length better. Endless Surprise (C. Alford) in 1-43s; (800m) 58s; (400m) 27s. Good.

Barrier trial after the last race Monsoon track

1,400m: Brave Show (C. Alford), Giorgio (Upadhya), Ballard Lady (Gowli), Classic Knight (Rabani) and Swingtime (R. Ahmed) in 1-32s. The first two were pushed to level. They were separated by a neck, 6ls; 6ls and 4ls.    
 

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