Month: August 2019

Brit brothers on the podium as host nation dominates triathlon

Memorable moment … Great Britain’s Alastair Brownlee wins the gold medal, with his brother Jonathan Brownlee (far right).LONDON: Those outside the event just thought it was the Brits being cocky after their rush of gold in recent days, to suggest English brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee could quinella the men’s triathlon on Tuesday. They didn’t of course … they could ‘only’ manage first and third.
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In one of those special stories of the London Olympics, older brother Alistair took the gold, while Jonathan had to be – and was – content with bronze. Spaniard Javier Gomez spoiled the British party by splitting the pair and taking the silver. It’s the first time a host nation has had a winner in the triathlon.

In raucous scenes at Hyde Park, thousands of Brits took advantage of the non-ticketed event and roared their support for the brothers. Hopes of that one-two finish was dashed after 20-year-old Jonathan was hit with a 15 second penalty for infringing in the bike-to-run transition. He served the penalty at the end of the third of four laps, but by that time not only had the medallists been determined, but barring a major incident, all three knew what colour they would be receiving.

By the end of the race, 22-year-old Alistair – who slowed to almost a walk to soak up the crowd wearing a Union Jack he had collected from a fan – had 11s to spare over Gomez, with a further 20s back to Jonathan. Considering that margin between silver and bronze, it could have been an interesting dash for the runner-up prize had there been no penalty for Jonathan, and perhaps that dream of one-two for Britain may not have been as wild as some thought.

Australia’s best finisher was Courtney Atkinson who was 18th, 2min.54s behind the winner. Australia’s other competitors Brad Kahlefeldt was 32nd (3min.58s behind) while Brendan Sexton was 35th (4min.11s back).

Unfortunately it continues a lack of medals for the Australian men in the event. While Australia’s women have won five medals in four Olympic triathlons staged – one gold, two silver and two bronze – no Australian man has ever collected a medal. Greg Bennett came closest when he was fourth behind New Zealander Hamish Carter in Beijing in 2008.

The Brownlee brothers were perfectly placed from the start, and came out of the water in the lead group of six swimmers.

Atkinson was first out of the Australian trio in 21st position followed by Kahlefeldt in 33rd and Sexton struggling back in 47th of the 56 competitors.On the bike the lead group of five athletes attempted a breakaway, but they were caught on the third lap of the cycle by the chasing pack, a group which included Atkinson.

History has shown the Brownlee brothers are as tough as teak, and on the sixth of seven laps, Alastair decided to attempted a solo breakaway. But with such a large leading group containing 22 riders, he was never really going to be able to sustain the lead, and while it provided excitement for the locals, it was short-lived.

Out of the bike-run transition, the Brownlee boys were two and three, behind Frenchman Vincent Luis. Atkinson was well-placed in eighth, with Kahlefeldt out of contention in 32nd, and Sexton 35th.Then Brits then made their move, and along with Gomez, they broke away from the pack, and soon opened up a 20s advantage, with Atkinson falling back to 46s adrift at the first turn.

But the drama was soon to unfold when Jonathan was issued with a 15 second time penalty for a transition infringement.

On the third lap of four, Alistair surged. Gomez was able to hold on and as they headed onto the final lap, the margin was just three seconds. But Jonathan couldn’t go with the pair, and suddenly it was a race in two for the gold. The younger Brownlee took his time penalty at the end of the third lap, but was able to maintain his third spot when he re-entered the race.

Again Alistair surged, and this time he was able to shake the Spaniard, not totally, but the 10 second lead he soon had, made it clear to the thousands’ of screaming Brits, that another gold was about to be banked.

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Kangaroo condoms get a hop on London organisers

London Olympic organisers are investigating how a bucket of Australian-tagged condoms found its way into the athletes’ village without official consent.
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Australian BMX cyclist Caroline Buchanan tweeted a photograph from the athletes’ village of a container of condoms with a placard reading “Kangaroos condoms, for the gland downunder” with the picture of a boxing kangaroo.

She joked that the container seemed to back up rumours that the athletes’ village becomes a hot bed of activity as thousands of competitors complete their events and celebrate after years of working to get to the Olympics.

“Haha, the rumours are true. Olympic village,” tweeted Buchanan, whose BMX contest starts on Wednesday.

Barcelona started the trend of supplying free condoms to athletes when the Spanish city held the Olympics in 1992, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) endorsing the move to help AIDS awareness and prevention. The handouts came with health information.

The London Olympic organisers, LOCOG, have provided 150,000 free condoms in dispensers for the 10,800 athletes at the Games. They are supplied by Durex, part of British consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser, which paid for the supply rights.

A LOCOG spokeswoman said they were trying to find out who distributed the so-called Kangaroo condoms, with the container shown to hold condoms from Durex rivals Ansell Ltd, an Australian company and Pasante, a private British company.

She said athletes and officials were allowed to bring products into the village for their personal use.

“We will look into this and ask that they are not handed out to other athletes because Durex are our supplier,” said the spokeswoman.

Organisers tightly control which brands can be promoted at the Games, striking sponsorship deals with a limited number of companies and trying to stop non-sponsors from getting free publicity on the back of the Olympics.

A spokeswoman for Ansell said her company knew nothing about the issue and it could well be a prank.

“We have had no official participation or association with the Olympics at all,” she said.

Lawrence Boon, managing director of Pasante, said his company had no involvement with the distribution of condoms in the athletes’ village and he suspected it was a prank by the Australian team.

“We have no association with the Olympics but we did launch a gold condom this year for champions,” said Boon.

“With such high teenage pregnancy and STD rates, we try to make people carry condoms by making them fun and interesting.”

A Durex spokeswoman said Durex was “proud to be supplying free condoms for the Olympics Games” but declined to elaborate further.

The number of condoms supplied at London tops the 100,000 made available to athletes in Beijing four years ago.

In Sydney in 2000, organisers took delight in having to order 20,000 more condoms after the initial allocation of 70,000 ran out.

Reuters

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Women vow to return stronger

The Hockeyroos’ Olympic Games medal hopes ended in tears as the young team fell agonisingly short of advancing to the next stage of the tournament yesterday morning.
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But young striker Emily Smith, who hails from Crookwell, has vowed to return bigger and better in Rio in four years’ time to try to erase the devastating heartbreak of their London campaign.

The Hockeyroos finished their last preliminary match with a 0-0 draw against Argentina.

They needed to win by just one goal to stay in medal contention, but instead they will play for fifth or sixth position.

The result left Canberra’s Anna Flanagan in tears as the team’s hopes were shattered.

Making it even harder to swallow was the fact the Hockeyroos lost just one game in the tournament and that defeat was only 1-0.

They conceded just two goals in their five games.

Both Flanagan and Smith were making their Olympic debuts in London.

The side wasn’t expected to be in medal contention at the beginning of the tournament, but the players grew in confidence with each game.

”It’s devastating to think we worked so hard all of this time and to think we’ve lost with a draw … it’s really disappointing,” said Smith, who turned 20 on the first day of the Olympics. ”It happens I guess, we needed to win and we should have scored more goals but I thought we played really well.

”We gave it everything we had, we just didn’t cut it this time.”

The Aussies lost their first game to New Zealand, but found form in the next round matches to show they could be medal contenders.

Ultimately missing the finals came down to an inability to create chances against Argentina.

The Hockeyroos did not secure a penalty corner during the game and pulled their goalkeeper from the field in the dying minutes to try to keep their dreams alive.

”It is a bit of a shock because everyone was so confident,” Smith said. ”The mood was really good, we were really determined to stick it to Argentina, who are ranked No.2 in the world, but it just didn’t fall our way. It’s an awesome experience, I just hope in four more hard years I can get a medal or something, but I’ve got a lot of improving to do.”

The Hockeyroos will play China later this week in a battle for fifth and sixth place.

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Boden has her disqualification overturned

The letters ”DQ” could have been the blemish on Lauren Boden’s London experience but the Canberra hurdler is determined to be one of the world’s best after she had her disqualification overturned yesterday morning.
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Boden was left baffled when she walked off the track without an official time following her 400 metre hurdles semi-final at the Olympic Games.

She had finished eighth, but instead of seeing her time on the board, the 24-year-old had DQ next to her name.

It was ruled Boden had trailed the seventh hurdle. But a review after the race reinstated Boden as an eligible competitor, avoiding what would have been a sour end to her Olympic campaign despite not being in gold-medal contention.

Boden officially ended her London campaign with a 56.66 second semi-final and 23rd overall.

And she will leave London content and with an unwavering belief she can be one of the fastest hurdlers in the world at the Rio Games in four years.

”There’s a lot more to come in the next four years,” Boden said.

”I wanted a result, I know that I have finished higher than some people.

”I don’t really want a DQ against my name ever, let alone at an Olympics. What I’ve learned is that I can think on my feet out there no matter what the conditions are or how big the crowd is.”

Boden scraped into the semi-finals by 0.02s after her heat.

After being so close to being eliminated, Boden vowed to deliver a ”kamikaze” run and leave nothing on the track as she tried to push the best runners in the world.

It also prompted her to make a last-minute adjustment to her race.

Instead of having 15 steps between each hurdle, Boden decided it was time to test herself with 14 steps in a bid to go faster.

It’s something she has been working on with coach Matt Beckenham, but they were unsure whether to test the new system in a major race.

In the end Boden decided she needed to take a risk if she wanted to be any chance of progressing.

It paid off for the first half of the race as she stuck with the leaders, but cutting it down to 14 steps meant her last 100m wasn’t as strong as she had hoped. While the plan didn’t deliver success, Boden said it was the first step in her bid for success in 2016.

”I think [14 steps between hurdles] is what’s going get me the 54 seconds and the final in Rio,” Boden said.

”[The semi-final] was my second chance, it was a clean slate and I wanted to enjoy it and I was probably a bit more relaxed. The plan was to hold nothing back and I didn’t know what was going to happen. But I wasn’t going to die wondering and gave it everything I had.”

Boden was one of three Beckenham-trained athletes in London, with sprinter Melissa Breen and hurdler Brendan Cole. ”Mel already wants to go out and train again and she only raced the other day,” Beckenham said. ”I know I’ve got very determined athletes there and this experience will be great for them.”

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AOC finances good as gold

AUSTRALIAN Olympic Committee president John Coates has been calling for more taxpayer funding of elite sports while his organisation sits atop a $100 million money pile, financial accounts show.
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The money is invested in shares and property funds by the related Australian Olympic Foundation. Speaking from London, the head of the foundation’s investment committee, former Liberal leader John Hewson, told The Age it was ”absolutely” worthwhile to invest the money rather than spend it.

”I have no doubt that this is the best structure, rather than spending the money as you raise it, because it’s very difficult to raise money these days for sports and charities,” he said.

Mr Coates, as well as being AOC president, for which he is paid $482,000 a year – $1000 more than the Prime Minister – is chairman of the foundation.

Mr Coates raised the alarm over sports funding last November when he warned that Australia’s medal tally at the London Olympics would be lower because state sports institutes were not getting enough money.

He had previously dismissed as ”insulting” a 2009

government report calling for money to be diverted to grass-roots sports.

And he returned to the theme last week, saying a flood of money for swimming approved in 2010 had come too late to salvage Olympic gold in London.

The Australian Olympic Foundation was set up in 1996, and it began to invest seriously after receiving a $88.5 million injection following the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

After paying a $6.3 million cash distribution to the AOC, the fund had $106 million at the end of 2011, down from $115 million in the previous year.

The government spends about $170 million a year on elite athletes, with most of the funding focused on Olympic sports. The almost $20 million a year that goes to the Australian Institute of Sport is used to provide support to 1200 athletes, 700 of whom received full or part scholarships.

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