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Medals of a different hue

Denver: The 1980 US Olympians who never had a chance to compete at the Moscow Games can finally say it: they are officially gold medallists. But these aren’t Olympic medals. Rather, they’re Congressional Gold Medals that were awarded to the 461 Olympic athletes during the Carter administration but never officially recorded in the Congressional Record due to technical problems with the production of the medals.

“This is long overdue recognition for a group of Olympians who unfairly were denied the opportunity and honour of representing our country at the 1980 Games,” said US Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel.

The United States boycotted the 1980 Olympics to protest the Soviet Union’s military operation in Afghanistan. The Congressional Record from that year shows Congress intended to award the Congressional Gold Medals to the Olympians to record the sacrifice they made — having trained for the Games in which they would never compete.

Award for Harrington

London: British Open champion Padraig Harrington has added the 2007 Golf Writers’ Trophy to his European Tour Golfer of the Year award. The 36-year-old Irishman won a 75 per cent share of the vote in the annual poll of Golf Writers. “I was thrilled to get the news I had won the golf writers’ award,” Harrington said in a statement on Monday. Briton Justin Rose, who won the European order of merit, was second in the vote ahead of Scotland’s World Cup-winning duo Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren.

Rijkaard banned

Zurich: Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard will sit out his team’s first Champions League knockout stage match after being handed a touchline ban by Uefa. European soccer’s ruling body said on Monday that Rijkaard would serve a two-match touchline ban after being sent off for arguing with the referee during their group game against Olympique Lyon on November 27.

He has already sat out the first match of the ban with an automatic suspension during Barcelona’s final group match against VfB Stuttgart last week.

Emerson Leao back as coach

Rio de Janeiro: Former Brazil coach and goalkeeper Emerson Leao began his third stint as coach of Santos on Monday after being named as the replacement for Vanderlei Luxemburgo, who quit last week. Leao said he had turned down offers to coach the Iran national team and a club side in the UAE to return to Pele’s former club. The volatile Leao previously coached Santos in 1998-99, then from 2002-2004.

Scud plans scuppered

Sydney: Mark Philippoussis has abandoned plans of playing in next month’s Australian Open after succumbing to a knee injury on Tuesday. The former Wimbledon and US Open finalist had been hoping to earn a place in the first Grand Slam of 2008 by winning this week’s wild card playoff tournament in Melbourne.

The 31-year-old had safely made it through to the quarter finals but was forced to pull out on Tuesday after hurting his right knee in an earlier match. Philippoussis released a statement confirming he would undergo immediate surgery to fix a cartilage tear.

Marin denial

Milan: Italian swimmer Luca Marin has denied putting explicit pictures of his former lover Laure Manaudou on the Internet following their spat at the European short-course swimming championships in Hungary. Nude photos and a video of Manaudou have now appeared on the web. “I know nothing about the video and have only seen the photos. Yes, it looks like it’s really her but it is ridiculous to think that it was me who put them there,” Marin told Tuesday’s edition of an Italian sports daily.

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