Bubka, Devers fail to make finals
Gurcharan heartbreak after balanced bout
No weakness in the Venus game
Ballet Master best on form
Wednesday�s Mysore results/ (With inter-state divi

Sydney, Sept. 27: 
The Olympic athletics events today saw two stars pull out in qualifying stages even as world champion Wilson Kipketer was beaten in the men�s 800m. Kazakhstan�s Olga Shishigina won her country their first gold and Saudi Arabia won their first-ever Olympic medal, a silver.

Also failing to make the final was the reigning Olympic pole vault champion Jean Galfione of France.

Gail Devers, world champion in women�s 100m hurdles and champion in the 100m at the Atlanta Games, moved out in the first semi-finals of the hurdles today, hitting the fourth on slow trot and not being able to run. She has pulled a hamstring.

In the men�s 1,500m semi-final, reigning Olympic champion Nourredine Morceli of Algeria pulled up on the last bend to homestretch, standing for a moment before slowly jogging to the finish line, way behind the pack. Morocco�s Hicham El-Guerrouj won the other semi-final with ease.

It was also the day when Sri Lanka�s controversial Athens world championship silver medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe won her 200m heat comfortably to enter the semi-final. And Marion Jones overcame a traumatic two days when she had to defend banned husband and champion shot-putter C J Hunter to stsay on course for her five-gold campaign.

She moved ahead easily in the 200m and also moved up in second place (behind Germany�s Heike Drechsler) from her group in the long jump with a good 61.78m (against Drechsler�s 6. 84m).

With Devers out of the fray, it was a sans glamour 100m hurdles final. Shishigina overcame a bad start and an uncomfortable Lane 7 assignment to beat Glory Alozie of Nigeria near the last hurdle and finish in 12.65 seconds. She was the surprise winner, but not many surprises were left in this race anyway. The bronze went to Melissa Morrison of the US.

After her silver, Glory said a prayer for her boyfriend who was killed in a Sydney bus accident just before the start of the Olympics.

That accident had created a small stink, with the Nigerian government initially refusing to claim the body.

Boxed out

In the men�s 800m final, Kipketer, a triple world champion, started in lane three but, after the assignment melted down for the long race, he was clearly boxed in by Nils Schumann of Germany, Andre Bucher of Switzerland, Aissa Djabir Said-Guerno of Algeria and Andrea Longo of Italy.

There was a clear concerted effort to beat the competition in the Dane. Kipketer failed to come out of this trap, and it was only in the last 80 metres that he ran around the block, a goodly distance, and off a brilliant sprint, edged to second spot.

Schumann raced to gold in 1:45.08 and Kipketer was 0:00.06 seconds behind. Said-Guerni won bronze.

Interestingly, Longo was disqualified after pushing leading contender Andre Bucher onto the field with 200m to go. Longo faded to cross the line seventh.

Saudi silver

The men�s 400m hurdles final produced the �first� for Saudi Arabia when Hadi Souan Somayli won silver at 47.53 seconds, a new Asian record. The gold went to Angelo Taylor of the US at 74.50. The bronze was South African Lelewellyn Herbert�s.

Incidentally, Somyall�s coach in the US is John Smith, who is also the coach of Ato Boldon and Maurice Greene.

The women�s 400m hurdles final was a close affair with reigning Olympic champion Deon Hemmings of Jamaica in fray.

However, Irina Privalova of Russia pushed out early and won gold with a personal best of 53.02 seconds. Hemmings followed at 53.45, while Nouzha Bidouane of Morocco won bronze.

The women�s discus throw went to Ellina Zvereva of Belarus, at a season�s best of 68.40m, way off any record. Anastasia Kelesidou of Greece won silver and Irina Yatchenko, also of Belarus, won bronze.

Superstar attractions

Apart from Jayasinghe�s feat, the 200m heats for women drew a lot of attention for two superstars � Cathy Freeman and Marion Jones.

Cathy made a late surge but then let loose a bit again to finish third in qualifying for the semi-final. In her heat, Jones came strongly off the bend but Aussie Melinda Gainsford-Taylor gave her best to finish first and Jones let go a bit at the end to qualify in second position.

In the men�s 200m heat Round Two, Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago qualified at a low third, but said later he did exactly what his coach had told him.

End of an era

The end of an era in pole vault was in view too, Sergei Bubka of Ukraine making a poor exit by failing to clear 5.70m, a height that he could have in his heydays cleared with ease.

The world record still stands in his name, at 6.14m.

Atlanta champion Jean Galfione of France was in the same set of qualifiers as Bubka and he cleared 5.40m and 5.55m, but got stuck thrice at 5.65m to finish 10th in this qualifying group.

The champion too failed to make the next round.

In the morning session, defending 1500m women�s champion Svetlana Masterkova of Russia was eliminated from the race after pulling out during her first round race. She has been struggling with injury and stopped after 900m, grabbing her calf.    

Sydney, Sept. 27: 
The way through the Olympic maze seems to be full of hurdles and unusual jinx for India.

The hockey stars ended their medal hunt yesterday, and today India�s last medal hope, pugilist Gurcharan Singh matched his 81kg rival, Andri Fedtchouk punch for punch and even ended with a 12-12 overall score, but lost out when the judges gave the bout to the Ukrainian on better punch rate. The Ukrainian had taken 60 punches against the Indian�s 42.

As the judges� decision came in, Gurcharan, who had given a stellar fight in all three rounds, slumped onto the mat, rolled over and sat in disbelief. A win here would have put Gurcharan directly into the semi-finals, where a bronze would have anyway been sealed even for the loser.

Gurcharan broke down after the match and all he could say was: �I won the bout but God took the medal away from me.�

The fight was too equal for anybody�s comfort. The 6�3� Gurcharan � who finished fifth in the Texas world championship last year (also the SAF Games champion in 1995 and 1999) � and the 6�1� Andri (fifth in Texas in 75kg), took one-glove guards and sent long probing jabs in the first round.

Both were cautious, knowing the importance of the round of fight. Gurcharan was keeping Andri at bay with a long left reach, sure that the Ukrainian southpaw would have problems with this. But Andri was moving into Gurcharan�s reach sometimes, and looked a trifle quicker, and a quick left jab earned him a point after over a minute of the bout remained 0-0.

Gurcharan easily shook off this one-point advantage of the Ukrainian and drew level with a right jab straight through Andri�s guard. But the Ukrainian was also quick to get his quota of the jab and the two were soon 3-3 overall, and then to 4-4.

It was an extremely good round of boxing which showed that the two boxers had quickly gauged each other, and that each had decided to go all out thereafter.

Gurcharan had the height advantage, but his left jabs, punches that could have kept him out of harm�s way, were not really getting points for him. He had to move into within Andri�s reach to get those rights land. But he was surely the better of the two and won the round 4-3.

In Round 3 the punches had become more worthwhile and the frequency of combinations was more. Gurcharan went quickly ahead 5-4 (overall) with a combination start before the Ukrainian pulled back with a left. There wasn�t much ducking, and it was Gurcharan�s height that allowed him to wade into Andri�s guard and move out.

Andri stayed quicker of the two and was up 6-4, but Gurcharan followed up and caught him on a couple of tentative moments to make it 6-7 and then 7-7, the Ukrainian having collected the seventh off a bit of Gurcharan sloth. It was an even 3-3 round and the two looked a trifle tired as they went into the fourth.

The scoring pattern remained similar in the final round, with Andri leads being quickly cancelled by Gurcharan, catching up at 10-10 (overall) with a right. Gurcharan was up 11-10 with only eight seconds remaining but could not afford to be defensive for fear of being hauled up for negative play and a moment�s hesitation saw the Ukrainian quickly climb back to 11-11.

By then a lot of exhaustion had set in, and the round-house punches were in view. The frequency of scoring had fallen a bit before the urgency of it brought it all back in the late stages.

With less than a couple of seconds to go Gurcharan was up 12-11, but possibly exhaustion had caught up with him as Andri caught him with a right to equal scores at 12-12. That was a surprise hit as Gurcharan had possibly not expected such a quick right from an established southpaw.

The two waited eagerly for the decision. Referee Anthony Denver Lohrentz of South Africa had Gurcharan on his right and then, with his left hand, lifted Andri�s hand. Andri was delirious with joy, jumping up and breaking into a cheer, quite like his exultant corner. Gurcharan could not believe this. He slumped onto the ring, rolled over and sat kneeling, in sheer disbelief.    

The expected happened. The world�s most lethal women�s player Venus Williams dismantled the Russian Elena Dementieva in straight sets. For the record the score was 6-2, 6-2. For the record, Williams continued America�s dominance of the women�s section, for if I remember correctly Lindsay Davenport won the singles in Atlanta four years ago. It also proved that Venus loves the big stage.

Experience is not everything, as Marat Safin showed Pete Sampras in the US Open finals. But Safin is a genius, expected to be the next dominant player in men�s tennis. The same cannot be said of Dementieva. She was playing a woman who was born to play on Center Court, who was accustomed to the limelight, who enjoyed being a winner.

But more than that Dementieva was coming up against a woman in form. For Williams, it�s been an outstanding year but knowing her she will probably soon start focussing on the Australian Open and French Open the only two big titles that she doesn�t own.

That is the way of the great players and she is one. They are never satisfied with what they have, they are always hungry for more.

I can�t see any apparent weakness in Williams� game. If she�s in top form only her sister Serena or Lindsay Davenport, when she�s completely fit and moving well, have the strength to stay with her. And strength is the key now to domination in women�s tennis.

Although Martina Navratilova was a great competitor and a supreme athlete, and trained hard and was well muscled, power tennis in the women�s game was really introduced by Steffi Graf. Her speed of foot and forehand meant Gabriella Sabatini and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario were not able to match her consistently.

If Seles was the next model, producing power from both flanks, then the William sisters have set the bar even higher. If you can�t hit the ball as hard as them, for as long as them, as the wonderfully talented Martina Hingis is discovering, it�s almost impossible to beat them.

I�m not sure whether it�s good for tennis, for a lot of the touch and subtlety and clever changes of pace have disappeared, but you cannot but marvel at Williams. Her way is the future.

The interesting thing about Williams is that she doesn�t play safe, she goes for it. And what fuels her is an unending confidence that she can make the shot that she will get it right. It�s why if you take glance at the fact sheet of her match with Dementieva one statistic stands out. The winners. Dementieva hit five, Venus hit 15. And when you consider that they both made an equal amount of unforced errors (16) the winner was never in doubt.

Why I like Williams also is that unlike many of today�s players she is not just rooted to the baseline and will come to the net. On Wednesday, Dementieva may have made only four forays to the net, but Williams was there 14 times, winning the point on 13 occasions.

Many times she hits a long flowing drive volley on the run which may look ungainly but is marvellously effective.

Quite tragic though was the loss of the Woodies (Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde) in the final, their last big match together in Australia, to the Canadians Sebastian Lareau and Daniel Nestor. You have to applaud the Canadians for withstanding the pressure of playing in front of a vocal crowd, and for coming back to win after being a set down.

I think the key to the match could have been the first serve percentage of the Woodies. Unlike against us when the served over 80 per cent today they were down to 58 per cent, the Canadians getting in per cent of their first serves.

It immediately puts a team on the backfoot. I know I will miss the Woodies. They were possibly the greatest team ever and thus playing them was always the ultimate challenge.    

Calcutta, Sept. 27: 
Ballet Master best on form Ballet Master�s victory over Queen�s Logic makes the Richard Alford-trainee favourite to win the 1,400m Balam Cup tomorrow. Last month Queen�s Logic had beaten Almond Rock � a smart sprinter. Robert Gowli partners the Conquering Hero-Scossa three-year-old colt.

1st Race Salvage Cup (1.40 PM) 1,400m (Cl V�Rated 00-28) � Indian jockeys only

1 3143 Airs Image [R. Alford] R. Gowli 60.0 2
2 0444 Jayaashva [Jaiswal] Som S. 60.0 4
3 ---- Adeline [D. David] Md Amil 55.5 1
4 4034 Armila [P. Locke] Md Yasin 52.5 3
1. Adeline (3) 2. Airs Image (1) 3. Armila (4)
Adeline: Working and looking well for a debut win. Airs Image: May fight out the issue.

2nd Race Mercury Handicap(2.20 pm) 1,100m (Cl IV, 5-y-o & over�Rt. 22-50) �Indian jockeys only

1 0000 Consul�s Secret [Jaiswal] A. Samad 60.5 5
2 4332 Silver Raising [Javed] Manohar S. 59.5 4
3 ---- Ace Of Spades [D. David] G. Upadhya 57.5 7
4 0302 Heaven�s Blessing [Bath] Md Islam 57.0 8
5 0120 Work Order [Mujeeb] Sher S. 56.5 1
6 2200 Floral Path [Bath] A. P. Singh 54.0 3
7 2113 Time Of Times [Karki] Amjad K. 52.0 6
8 - - 04 Run Ahead [Mujeeb] Md Yacoob 50.5 2
1.Silver Raising (2) 2. Heaven�s Blessing (4) 3. Floral Path (6)
Silver Raising: Knocking at the door. May strike now. Heaven�s Blessing: Well in at the weights. May upset. Floral Path: May make the finish interesting.

3rd Race Camlin Handicap 1,100m (Cl V�Rt. 00-28) � Indian jockeys only

1 0031 Magic Ring [Karki] Amjad K. 60.0 3
2 1332 Dizzy Diver [P. Locke] D. Locke 59.5 6
3 0130 Software [Bath] Md Islam 57.5 4
4 ---- Alastar [Vijay] C. Alford 56.0 5
5 - - 00 Ring Dancer [R. Alford] R. Gowli 53.5 2
6 0300 Quizzical [Vijay] Md Amil 53.0 1
1. Software (3) 2.Alastar (4) 3.Ring Dancer (5)
Software: Ran an awful race in last start.Capable of doing much better. Alastar: Looking for a debut win. Smart in his work outs. Ring Dancer: Working well.

4th Race Blacktoi Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV & Cl V, 3-y-o only�Rt. 00-50)

1 3201 Alsheim [Vijay] C. Alford 60.0 3
2 0211 Orbital Star [R. Alford] R. Gowli 57.0 2
3 ---- Sadaf [D. David] Brij S. 57.0 6
4 3210 Alterezza [Vijay] Surender S. 54.5 4
5 2220 Santillana [R. Alford] Salim K. 50.5 1
6 0000 Rock Falcon [R. Alford] S. Paswan 50.5 5
1. Alsheim (1) 2. Alterezza (4) 3. Orbital Star (2)
Alsheim: An effortless winner. May strike again. Alterezza: Hails from a very strong winter-bunch. Capable of upsetting. Orbital Star: Going for a hattrick of wins.

5th Race Balam Cup 1,400m (Cl IV�Rt. 22-50)

1 1040 Scavenger�s Son [D. David] Brij S. 60.0 8
2 1301 Ballet Master [R. Alford] R. Gowli 58.0 4
3 0400 Diplomatic Gesture [Bath] Haroon K. 56.0 2
4 - - - - Added Asset [D. David] K. Kumar 52.0 7
5 3040 Gul [P. Locke] Md Yasin 52.0 6
6 0002 Friendly Knight [Jaiswal] A. Samad 51.5 5
7 -002 Acaress [Bharath] C. Alford 51.0 3
8 2040 Tequila Shot [Bath] Som S. 50.0 1
1. Ballet Master (2) 2. Acaress (7) 3. Friendly Knight (6)
Ballet Master: Beat Queen�s Logic, the conqueror of Almond Rock. Acaress: Hard to fancy for a win on her poor second to Eau Savage. Friendly Knight: May place.

6th Race Goldliner Handicap(4.30 pm) 1,200m (Cl III�Rt. 44-72)

1 0204 Gentle Priest [Bharath] Md Islam 60.0 3
2 4000 Remember The Day [R. Alford] P. Alford 57.5 2
3 0000 Staffordshire [Javed] S. Rabani 54.0 6
4 4200 Acadameus [D. David] A. P. Singh 53.5 7
5 0043 Mountain Memory [R. Alford] R. Gowli 51.0 8
6 2004 Iron Warrior [D. David] C. Alford 51.0 1
7 0000 Sky Hawk [Mujeeb] Md Yacoob 50.5 5
8 2022 Artifact [Vijay] Md Amil 47.5 4
1. Iron Warrior (6) 2. Staffordshire (3) 3. Mountain Memory (5)
Iron Warrior: Working well since his easy fourth to Highland Flame. Staffordshire: Speediest of the lot. May try ruaway tactics. Mountain Memory:Failed as a favourite.
Day�s Best:Software Double: Adeline & Ballet Master

Ist race: Swift (Rajesh) 1; Dunhill Star 2; Selected Princess 3. Won by: 5-1/2; 8-1/2; (1-28.7). (W) Rs 39; (P) 18; 18; 33; (Q) 108; (T) 3,246.

2nd race:Sand Lord (Shafiq) 1; Scandal Sheet 2; Kylin 3. Won by: Nk; 1/2; (1-29.4). (W) Rs 379; (P) 71; 16; 19; (Q) 638; (T) 37,462.

3rd race: Saffron Finch (Marshall) 1; Don King 2; Furia Rossa 3. Won by: 3/4; 1/2; (1-29.3). (W) Rs 31; (P) 14; 17; 15; (Q) 123; (T) 461.

4th race: Antecedent (Ruzaan) 1; Silver Toy 2; Guernica 3. Won by: 4-3/4; 3; (1-14.7). (W) Rs 16; (P) 12; 19; 48; (Q) 65; (T) 747.

5th race: Merano (Kader) 1; Sea Witch 2; Carbon Copy 3. Won by: 2; 3-1/2; (1-14.2). (W) Rs 23; (P) 17; 18; 62; (Q) 76; (T) 1,596.

6th race: Alminstar (Prakash) 1; Appeaer 2; Glencruitten 3. Not run: Rizer (2). Won by: 1/2; 4-1/4; (1-29). (W) Rs 28; (P) 15; 13; 21; (Q) 20; (T) 228.

7th race: Supreme Ark (Appu) 1; Careless Beauty 2; Glass Slipper 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 1-3/4; (1-29.1). (W) Rs 18; (P) 12; 34; 43; (Q) 168; (T) 1,332.

8th race: Optical Illusion (Shakti) 1; Venture Adventure 2; Cape Fear 3. Won by: 3-1/2; 1/2; (1-29.7). (W) Rs 71; (P) 24; 43; 13; (Q) 467; (T) 3,302.

9th race: Forest Pegasus (Appu) 1; Ratn 2; Spectacular Style 3. Won by: 3/4; Nk; (1-16). (W) Rs 112; (P) 38; 31; 124; (Q) 682; (T) 75,066.

Jackpot: Rs 26,298; (C) Rs 514.

Treble: (i) Rs 85; (ii) Rs 1,961.    


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