Month: August 2018

Great bawl of China: hero falls at first hurdle

LIU Xiang hopped the length of the straight, got to the final hurdle paused, bent down and kissed it. He hopped on to the finish line and was gathered up in the arms of a Briton and a Hungarian. They carried him to a wheelchair.
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Liu had been unable to get to the start line in his home Olympics, he was determined to get to the finish line in London but for the second time in consecutive Olympics the former gold medallist has been eliminated without clearing a hurdle.

When he hit the first hurdle Liu tumbled and rolled and sat before the second hurdle looking in pained disbelief at the field of runners sprinting away from him. His games were over, but not his race. Liu, the man who as the first Chinese male to win track gold when he won the 110m hurdles in Athens had gone into Beijing as the face of China’s games, the poster boy of a country and with the burden of a billion people on him.

On the morning of his heats four years ago he had to withdraw with an Achilles injury. At the world championships last year, the man who had carried the world record was buffeted and while he might have won the race but for the illegal attention of Cuban rival Dayron Robles (he as later disqualified), he had to settle for a lesser medal. His last Olympics was to be his moment to redeem his early glory.

So after he had gathered himself up and moved off the track, Liu resolved it was not going to end this way. He turned and hopped on his left leg the length of the straight by-passing every hurdle but the last where he bent to kiss it.

Then he crossed the line and Andy Turner went to him to hold him up and help him from the track. ‘‘I know how painful those Achilles problems are and after what he’s been through, this is absolutely devastating for him. I really feel for Liu Xiang because in my opinion he’s the greatest hurdler ever,’’ Turner said.

As Turner held him Hungary’s Blazs Baji walked over and raised Liu’s hand in the air to declare the true winner of the race. He then wrapped a strong arm across his shoulder and he and Turner helped him to a wheelchair. Each of the rest of the field walked over to shake his hand.

‘‘We are not actually friends, I have seen him competing a lot of times, I saw him when I was a small kid and he is just a great big idol for me so I was racing against him and OK I wanted to beat him but there is not a chance if he runs well,’’ Baji said.

‘‘After all of this he was hopping on one leg all the way through kissing last hurdle, that was just great moment, that was Olympics. I was sorry for him first and he is a great hero for me, after what happened he didn’t just disappeared, he was hopping all the way through and he showed big respect for Olympic games and I wanted to show big respect for him.’’

The scenes were reminiscent of the memorable Olympic moment 20 years ago when Great Britain’s Derek Redmond broke down in the 400m semi-finals, but he was determined to limp to the finish line and was assisted by his father who came on to the track.With Chris Barrett

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Cat-and-mouse game not over on Homeland

Homeland, starring Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, will become ‘more personal’ in its second season.Emmy-nominated psychological thriller Homeland will focus more on personal relationships in its second season, but will play out once more against real-life geo-political tensions between the United States and the Middle East, producers say.
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The drama – one of US President Barack Obama’s television favorites – played out its first award-winning season in a post 9/11 world of suspicion, war-damaged soldiers and extremist tensions.

But when the drama starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis returns, it will delve deeper into the cat-and-mouse game between their lead characters – a bipolar CIA agent and a returning US prisoner of war whose loyalties have been turned by the Taliban.

“I think this season has moved to really explore the relationship between Carrie (Danes) and Brody (Lewis),” said executive producer Alex Gansa. “It becomes less global and more personal.”

Nevertheless, Homeland will continue its ripped-from-the headlines feel, opening season two against the fictional backdrop of an Israeli bombing on Iranian nuclear facilities while in Washington, Lewis’ character rises through the political ranks.

The first few episodes are set in Beirut but were filmed in Israel.

“We do everything we can to make this thing feel believable. We also try the best we can to ask the questions rather than answer them,” Gansa said. “It does explore whether our fears are justified and warranted.”

Homeland has earned nine Emmy Award nominations, including acting nods for Danes and Lewis. Danes won a Golden Globe in January for her role as a highly strung but brilliant CIA operator in a first season that was packed with plot twists.

Obama in March invited Lewis, a British actor, to a White House dinner and admitted that Homeland was a favourite TV pleasure.

“I asked him about watching TV and President Obama said ‘On Saturday afternoon, Michelle and the two girls go and play tennis and I pretend I am going to work and I switch on Homeland’,” Lewis said.

The second season storyline resumes six months after Danes’ CIA agent seeks electro-shock therapy for her mental disorder after being convinced that her suspicions about the enigmatic POW were ill-founded.

“She has been very humbled and she is struggling with a crisis of confidence. She gets her mojo back but it takes a little time,” Danes said.

As for Lewis, he has been elected to Congress as a war hero and appears on course for a vice-presidential run.

“He will live in a state of paranoia and anxiety,” said Lewis of his character. “Last time he was damaged, and he won some sympathy from the audience. He’s more numbingly juggling balls this season.”

Homeland’s second season begins in the US on September 30. An Australian air date is yet to be announced.


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British sprinting great’s son jailed over drug dealing offences

The son of former British Olympic sprinting champion Linford Christie has been jailed for 15 months for allowing his west London flat to be used for drug dealing.
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Christie, the 100 metres gold medallist at the Barcelona Games in 1992, was not in Isleworth Crown Court as his 26-year-old son, Liam Oliver-Christie, was sentenced on Monday.

London’s Daily Mail reported that police found a package containing five wraps of crack cocaine and 14 wraps of heroin when they raided his west Kensingston apartment last August. He was also caught with £130 ($192), cash police said was paid to him for allowing his premises to be a base for drug dealing by two of his friends.

“You played, in my judgment, a critical role because it was your premises,” Judge Philip Matthews told Oliver-Christie. “Your two pals were dealing from those premises.

All the evidence points to regular drug-related activity at your premises of which you were fully aware.”

Christie’s career on the track, which also included 100m gold medals at the world championships, European championships and the Commonwealth Games, ended in disgrace when he was banned for two years for testing positive to a performance-enhancing drug.

His son’s counsel, Fergus Malone, unsuccessfully argued in his defence that Oliver-Christie had received only marginal support throughout his life from his famous father. The Mail reports that Liam and his twin sister Korel are children from an affair Christie had with their typist mother Yvonne Oliver. Oliver-Christie has a degree in journalism.

“He is somebody who has bettered himself and has somewhat lived in the shadow of a very well celebrated man, his father Linford Christie,” Malone said. “Not necessarily through the fault of his father, in a sense he has suffered throughout his life and perhaps not necessarily got the benefits he might have got through being the son of Linford Christie.”

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Cyclists take their feud into the press conference

It was meant to be the “Jason Kenny Show”, but Great Britain’s sprint gold medallist was only 10 minutes into his winner’s press conference when he was upstaged by the man he conquered.
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Frenchman and reigning world champion Gregory Bauge, who dismissed Australian bronze medallist Shane Perkins in the semi-finals, was clearly bemused by the strength of Kenny and the British team.

Asked what make Great Britain apparently unbeatable on the track, he answered: ”I don’t know … if I knew I would tell. You have to ask him. Being at home with the British public helps.”

Kenny, 24 and second to 27-year-old Bauge in this year’s world titles (he was first last year when the Frenchman did not race), gave his best explanation when he was asked.

”We have always kind of been close at the world championships,” he said. ”Everywhere we go were are always close. When it comes to the Olympics we make sure we get every little detail right. That is what we did at Beijing. We have done the same again here.

“It’s not as if we are winning by miles and miles and miles. But we have got just enough to keep our nose in front. It’s not one little thing, but everything, making sure that every box is ticked in the last six months leading up to this. Team morale goes a long way as well.” And so Kenny went on.

Bauge was not convinced — so he decided to ask Kenny a few questions himself.

Handed the floor, Bauge turned to his left and asked Kenny: ”You were world title silver medallist in 2008, now Olympic champion 2012 — that is four years to today. How did you prepare?”

Looking at Bauge, Kenny said: ”It is not like we do anything different. The Olympics is our main goal. I guess as an athlete we alway try hard. When get to Olympics we are still trying hard and that’s when all the team comes together, for that last little bit. The last two world championships when we have raced we have raced against someone who we feel is unbeatable.”

Bauge, with a wry grin, continued: ”I remember you at Proszkow (for the 2009 world titles) just after the Beijing [Olympics] and we competed in the quarter finals together …”

Kenny, with a grin to match, fired back: ”Yeah … that’s because you went out in the reps and came back and beat me in the quarter final.”

Time out.

The media loved it. So much so, that when Bauge — wanting a more expansive explanation from Kenny for his impressive Olympic form — beckoned for another chance to ask the gold medallist a question, forcing the press conference moderator to ask reporters: ”Are you happy for Gregory to ask another question?”, journalists answered with a chorus of  ”yeahs!”.

So Bauge got at it again to Kenny, asking him: ”If I understand you well, in four years you just relax and when [it] comes Rio you will be on top again?

Kenny was ready, answering his interrogator: ”No, not at all. The Olympics is the main one for us. I think that is the one you get the most support for. I still want to win world championships. The world championships mean a lot for me as a rider. So I am going forward and hopefully will be battling for a top spot [in the Great Britain team] in the Olympics.”

So why was Bauge being so persistent?

“Because he beat me …” he told the reporter who asked. ”I prepare my way for the Olympic Games and I am curious to know how he prepared for this Games, especially as it was not easy. He had to compete with Chris Hoy to get selection [for the sprint]. He had to beat him first, and then concentrate on the sprint and team sprint.”

It wasn’t Bauge’s last word on a night that saw Britain’s gold medal haul in track cycling reach five, while Australia are still without a gold medal heading into Tuesday’s last day of track racing.

Australia still has three chances left for gold medals on the track with Shane Perkins in the men’s keirin event, Anna Meares in the individual sprint and Annette Edmondson in the omnium.

Perkins celebrated his bronze medal. ”To come away with a bronze medal is fantastic,” the world keirin champion said after beating Trinadad and Tobago’s Njisane Nicholas Phillip for it.”

Of his semi-final loss to Bauge, Perkins, who had overcome a virus that struck before the team sprint said: ”Tactically my races were perfect, I just didn’t have that little bit of extra speed.”

First, his mind is today’s keirin, which features some new faces that didn’t enter the sprint. ”We will just go back and look at some of the videos of the past year and see what we are up against,” he said. ”Obviously having the races [on Monday night] and having a few wins under the belt is going to give me the confidence to go out there and do my best.”

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Insight: earnings season

This time last year, when Australia’s big companies opened their books for their annual inspection by shareholders, investors responded in a brutal way.
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The annual ”profit-reporting season” (which began this week) stretched over about four weeks, but by the time it was finished, investors had wiped 6.5 per cent from the value of the sharemarket.

Why? They were clearly unimpressed with all the negative surprises.

In many cases, profits were worse than expected.

Investors had not even responded that badly to the state of corporate Australia’s books during the reporting season that coincided with the depths of the financial crisis in early 2009.

Then, only 4.3 per cent in value had been lost, even though the outlook for Australian companies was arguably more uncertain, given the sharemarket was still plummeting and had yet to bottom out.

So how will investors react this reporting season?

It’s an important question, particularly for super funds, which invest heavily in the sharemarket.

Since the crisis began in late 2007, it has evolved from a banking crisis to a sovereign debt and political crisis in many parts of the world, leading to a sharp slowdown in global growth.

In the past few months, global and Australian economic conditions have worsened, with some leading indicators suggesting profits for Australian companies could deteriorate further in coming months.

Analysts from Credit Suisse have found that, since the half-year reporting season in February and March, the number of local companies telling investors that their profits could be better than expected this year has been ”virtually non-existent”.

But many have been warning that their profits could be lower.

These so-called ”profit downgrades” have been occurring in parts of the economy uniquely linked to the economic cycle: metals and mining, construction and engineering, media, retailing and gambling stocks.

Analysts warn that, if we don’t want to see too much value wiped from shares this reporting season – a situation that would hurt Australia’s super funds – we will need to come to terms with the difficulties that policymakers in the US, Europe and Asia are facing.

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