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Daily Archives: August 22, 2008

Hockey: Rising China face 11-star Dutch test in hockey final

by Kuldip Lal*

China go into their first ever Olympic women's hockey final today confident of re-writing the sport's history against the overwhelming favourites Netherlands.
China's hopes in front of a supportive home crowd rest mainly on how they ward off the penalty corner threat from Maartje Paumen, whose 11 goals so far is the most by a woman player at a single Olympics.
Paumen, whose hat-trick flattened world number two Argentina 5-2 in Wednesday's semi-final, will once again lead the Dutch, the only team in the competition with a flawless 6-0 win record.
But having come so far with four wins from six games, the hosts are riding high after dumping defending champions Germany 3-2 on Wednesday that helped them avenge the semi-final defeat in Athens.
"Losing to the Germans in Athens was a bloody lesson for us," said China's South Korean coach Kim Chang-Back, whose nine-year tenure has moulded virtual novices into a world beating side.
"We have created Chinese hockey history but that is not enough. We want to change the world history of the sport by becoming the first Asian women's team to win the Olympic gold.
"The girls have told me they can do it. I am sure they can."
The Dutch have their own dreams to realise. The world number one team were denied their second Olympic gold since 1984 when they were stunned by Germany in the Athens final four years ago.
"We get a chance to improve our Olympic record," said Paumen. "We have a lot of confidence going into the final. We will prepare well for it. China is a very good side and it should be a great final."
Paumen said her team will not be unnerved by the boisterous Chinese crowd expected for the title clash at the Olympic Green Hockey stadium.
"If they have their supporters, so do we," she said. "There will be a lot of Dutch fans out there and they can be as loud as anyone."
Paumen was expecting the same support from the stands as in Wednesday's semi-final where half the seats in the 12,000-capacity stadium was taken up by Oranje fans.
The Chinese women under Kim, the reigning Asian Games gold medallists, have outclassed their male counterparts, who made it to the Olympics for the first time here only because they were the host nation.
While the women are ranked sixth in the world, the men are placed 17th and lost four of their five league matches, earning a 2-2 draw against New Zealand.
Argentina, who won the elite six-nation Champions Trophy ahead of the Olympics, will clash with Germany for the bronze medal today.

    
*AFP

Athletics: Gay nightmare for United States relay team

The United States' miserable Olympic track and field campaign continued yesterday when their men's 4×100 metres relay team went out in the first round.
The Americans blundered in the final exchange when the baton was dropped as it moved from Darvis Patton to Tyson Gay.
For Gay it rounded off a desperate Olympics as the 100m world champion exited in the 100m semi-finals, having returned from a hamstring injury.
"I don't know what happened," said Gay.
"He (Patton) said the stick was in my hand. I think I felt it, but it wasn't in all the way before I grabbed it.
"I take the blame for it. It was my fault," added the 26-year-old.
Patton, eighth in the 100m final, said he thought the handover was going smoothly.
"I thought he (Gay) had it, but he didn't," said the 30-year-old, who along with Gay was a member of the world championship winning team last year.
"My job was never to let go until he securely has it, but he didn't.
"It's unfortunate that it happened at an Olympic Games once again. We are all very disappointed."
Reigning champions Great Britain finished second behind winners Jamaica but were then disqualified because fourth leg runner Craig Pickering was outside the safety zone when he received the baton from Marlon Devonish.
"I am not entirely sure what happened," said 32-year-old Devonish, the sole surviving member of the victorious 2004 team.
"Either I didn't go quickly enough or Craig Pickering went too soon. We are truly gutted."
Great Britain's disqualification gave the home fans some cheer as it saw China elevated to today's final.
Jamaica's 100 and 200m Olympic champion Usain Bolt did not race in the heat but must surely fancy his chances of adding a third gold to his collection at the Games – just one less than Carl Lewis managed at the 1984 Games.
The Americans have dominated this event at past Olympics, winning 17 of the 21 times it has been raced – Great Britain has won it twice, Canada once and Nigeria also once.
Later, America's problems deepened when the women's 4×100 metre relay team also dropped the baton on the final exchange.

    

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