London, July 26 (IANS) The Chinese table tennis team will face strong resistance in its gold quest at the London Olympics. Wednesday's draws showed that Chinese paddlers may come up early against strong rivals, Xinhua reports. China's top-seeded player Zhang Jike will have to take Belarus's veteran player Vladimir Samsonov in the men's singles fourth round before meeting either Hong Kong's Jiang Tianyi or South Korea's Joo Saehyuk in the quarter-finals. Zhang's likely opponent in the semifinals is Japanese Jun Mizutani. Mizutani is No. 3 seed and, after winning Pro Tour events this year in Kuwait and Japan, has risen to career high of No. 5 in the rankings, the only non-Chinese among the top five. Young and aggressive, Mizutani is a strong contender for the gold medal. In the other half of the draw, China's No.2 seed, twice Olympic silver medallist Wang Hao, will take on Germany's Timo Boll, in the semis. An Olympic veteran, Boll is seen as the biggest threat to China's dominance in the sport. In the women's singles, likely opponents for China's top seed Ding Ning include Japan's star player Ai Fukuhara, Singapore's Feng Tianwei and South Korea's Kim Kyungah. The player most likely to challenge Ding is Kim, whose textbook defensive skills and mental fortitude made her a serious contender for the Olympic gold. Commenting on the draw, head coach of Chinese men's team Liu Guoliang said: "We are not afraid of any team. As long as we play well, the draws won't have much impact on us." He said he expects fierce battles for Chinese players in the Games as they were the targets of all teams. "We are now focusing on our first match. The first match is the most difficult. The most important thing to us is to keep our pace and get well-tuned for the competition." The singles events will follow a knockout format. Players ranked 1-16 will qualify directly to the third round, those ranked 17-32 to the second round, and those ranked 33 to the total number of participants will qualify to the first or preliminary rounds. Sixteen teams will compete in the team events. In the men's team, China have to beat Germany in order to enter the finals. Runner-up at Beijing 2008, the German team has been the biggest rival of the Chinese. In the women's side, battles may not be as fierce in the early rounds. China's major opponent, Beijing Olympic silver medallist Singapore, will not meet each other until finals. China will open their campaign against Spain and likely semifinal opponents are South Korea. The team competition will also be played in a knockout format. The 16 participating teams were drawn into round one and progress to the finals. China enter the table tennis competition in London as the defending champion in all four events.
London, July 26 (IANS) Our brains process images differently depending on which gender we are looking at - regardless of whether we are men or women, a study has found. The team behind the research say it could help explain why women are often the subject of sexual objectification, the Daily Mail reported Thursday. The research, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, found in experiments that participants processed images of men and women in very different ways. When casting our eyes upon an object, our brains either perceive it in its entirety or as a collection of its parts. When presented with images of men, people tended to rely more on "global" cognitive processing, the mental method in which a person is perceived as a whole. Meanwhile, images of women were more often the subject of "local" cognitive processing, or the objectifying perception of something as an assemblage of its various parts.
London, July 26 (IANS) British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised that gay marriage will be legalised in the country by 2015, the Daily Mail reported Thursday. The prime minister also paid tribute to Tony Blair for paving the way by introducing civil partnerships. In remarks that will concern some Tory traditionalists, Cameron said: "I am absolutely determined that this coalition government will follow in that tradition by legislating for gay marriage in this parliament." Praising the institution of marriage, he added: "It's something I feel passionately about and I think if it's good enough for straight people like me, it's good enough for everybody and that's why we should have gay marriage and we will." Cameron, who was speaking at a Number 10 reception for members of the Lesbian Wednesday, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, has promised his MPs a free vote on the issue.
London, July 26 (IANS) China has put its name down in a repeat of dominating performance on home ground as the clock ticks down to London Olympics. "It won't be a Beijing do-over for us. We face unprecedented difficulties in catching up with the gold haul of Beijing without home advantage," Xiao Tian, deputy chef de mission of the Chinese Olympic delegation, was quoted as saying by Xinhua. "But I have full confidence in Chinese athletes and believe they will have excellent achievements in London," he said at a press briefing on Wednesday. Xiao kept a lid on soaring expectations, encouraging new breakthroughs of Chinese athletes without making any bold predictions. "I hate to predict how many gold medals we are going to claim," said Xiao, laughing a little as he added: "I did it in the past but every time it turned out to be wrong." "I don't want myself to be labelled as 'crow mouth' just like the famous soccer player Pele," he added. Xiao hoped Chinese athletes would keep their mood light, train even harder and brace themselves to give a best performance in London. China fielded a streamlined London team with 396 athletes including 29 gold medallists from the Beijing Games. The players, 171 male and 225 female, are to compete in 212 disciplines of 23 sports expect for football, equestrian and handball. According to Xiao, the average age of Chinese athletes is 24.6, with swimmer Qiu Yuhan the youngest at 14 and trapshooting player Liu Yingzi eldest at 41. Most of Chinese athletes had moved in the Olympic village in London with four sports teams still training in the cities nearby. Four years ago, China topped the medals table with 51 golds at home, when it sent a record-breaking 639 athletes to compete in the Beijing Games. It outshone the United States which finished with 36 golds but edged China in overall medals 110 to 100. Xiao played down China's chances to hold off the United States for another time, adding the United States is a traditional sports powerhouse which outpaces China in many of the Olympic sports such as team balls events. Thirty-eight of China's table-topping 51 gold medals in Beijing came in table tennis, badminton, diving, shooting, gymnastics and weightlifting which the country has long dominated in. But in London, China is looking forward to breakthrough in what are considered more prestigious Olympic sports, including swimming and track and field. "We do have expectations on breakthroughs in such sports as swimming, fencing, judo and cycling," Xiao said, citing overwhelming Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and 110m hurdler Liu Xiang. Sun, who smashed Grant Hackett's decade-old 1,500m world record at the Shanghai World Championships last year, is tipped to become China's first Olympic male swimming champion. Currently he ranks world number one in the 400m, 800m and 1,500m freestyle. Liu, whose back injury forced him out of the London Diamond League final earlier this month, has bounced back in true champion style as he registered a world record-tying time of 12.87 seconds at last year's World Championships. "What I worry most is the team ball events which we still have a lot to improve in order to be a true sports powerhouse," Xiao said. The five team ball events China would participate in London are men's and women's basketball, women's hockey, women's water polo and women's volleyball. Xiao confirmed basketball player Yi Jianlian would carry the flag for China at the Games opening ceremony, adding the NBA player has good sport ethics and well represents the image of China, and most importantly, would have impact on huge Chinese basketball fans. Yi, 24, started his career as a professional player in south China's Guangdong Province. He joined NBA in 2007 and played for the Washington Wizards before he came back to China amid the NBA lock-out. What's interesting, the national flag bearers for Chinese delegations since 1984 have been selected from the men's basketball team. Wang Libin was China's flag bearer in the opening ceremony of 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Song Tao for 1988 Seoul Olympics, Song Ligang for the 1992 Barcelona Games, Liu Yudong for 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Former NBA star Yao Ming was the flag-bear of the Chinese sports delegation at both Beijing 2008 and Athens 2004. "We will take into consideration to appoint a woman athlete to carry the flag in the future based on her impressive sports record and personal influence," Xiao noted. He expressed satisfaction over the environment and catering in the Olympic village, adding Chinese athletes would enjoy competing and enhancing exchanges with competitors worldwide during the Games slated from July 27 to Aug 12.
London, July 26 (IANS) Indian men's doubles pairs of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, and Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan have been handed a tough first round match in the tennis event at the London Olympics. Bhupathi-Bopanna are seeded seventh and face Belarus's Max Mirnyi and Alexander Bury in the first round starting Saturday. The unseeded duo of Paes-Vardhan will take on the Dutch pairing of Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer in the 32-team draw that was announced here Thursday. Wild card Somdev Devvarman, India's sole singles representative at the Olympics, will meet Finland's Jarko Nieminen in the men's singles event beginning Sunday. The women's doubles combination of Sania Mirza and Rushmi Chakravarthi begin their challenge against Su-Wei Hsieh and Chia-Jung Chuang of Chinese Taipei. In the men's doubles, the Indians will have to play out of their skins for a podium finish. Bhupathi-Bopanna will play either Britain's Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins or Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet if they clear the first hurdle. They are drawn to meet third seeds Nenad Zimonjic and Janko Tipsarevic from Serbia in the quarterfinals. The going will be tougher for Paes and Vardhan, who will run into second seeded French pairing of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra in the second round.
London, July 26 (IANS) The organisers of 2012 London Olympic Games have issued a statement of apology after mistakenly using the national flag of South Korea for the North Korean team before an Olympics group match of women's football. "Ahead of the women's football match at Hampden Park Wednesday, the Republic of Korea flag was shown on a big-screen video package instead of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea flag," said the statement issued by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). "Clearly, that is a mistake. We will apologise to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again."
London, July 26 (IANS) Five-time rowing world champion in men's single sculls Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand is recovering from a cycling accident and has set his sights on his first Olympic gold medal. The 34-year-old had a cycling accident right before the third World Cup in Munich of Germany in June, reports Xinhua. "It's all pretty good. It's a little painful when I row, but you just have to row through the pain. It was a joint injury. When you tear ligaments, recovery is always slow," he said after his training session Wednesday in Eton Dorney rowing centre. Drysdale won three world titles in succession before the Beijing Olympic Games. But only a week before the final, he had a severe gastrointestinal infection and was only able to seize a bronze medal. After the Beijing Games, Drysdale went on to win 2009 and 2011 world championships. In 2010, he settled for a silver in the worlds. So he remains a hot favourite for the Olympic gold in London. On his main rival Ondrej Synek of Czech Republic, Drysdale said: "It's been a long time since our last race, the Holland Beker Regatta in Amsterdam, so we're definitely on equal terms." He also keeps his eyes on Marcel Hacker of Germany, Alan Campblee of Britain, and reigning Olympic champion Olaf Tufte of Norway. Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba is another opponent he is looking out for. "In Bled of Slovenia at the 2011 world championships, he was very good in the heats and the quarterfinals (Rodrigues finally finished in eighth place)." Drysdale began rowing at university of Auckland at the age of 18. Then he gave up rowing to concentrate on his studies, but resumed the sport after watching fellow New Zealander Rob Waddell win gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games. Drysdale started competing at World Cup level in 2002, in the New Zealand coxless four. After the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, where they finished in fifth place, Drysdale switched to single sculls. He won the 2005 world championships at Gifu of Japan and then began his legendary rowing career.
London, July 26 (IANS) Late singer Amy Winehouse's father Mitch says he would consider letting pop star Lady Gaga play his daughter in a film if she pays him 10 million pounds. Gaga, 26, previously expressed interest in portraying the late vocalist, who died a year ago, in a biopic. But Winehouse's father has a condition. "If Gaga gives me 10 million pounds, I will consider it. I think it might be advisable to get an English actress, although Gaga has got the look about her. It is something which we might think about," contactmusic.com quoted Mitch as saying.
London, July 26 (IANS) Just two apples a day could help protect women against heart disease by cutting their cholesterol levels, according to study. Scientists found that apples significantly lowered blood fat levels in postmenopausal women, the group most at risk of heart attacks and strokes, the Daily Mail reported Thursday. Snacking on the fruit every day for six months slashed cholesterol by almost a quarter. The biggest reduction was seen in low-density lipoprotein, the so-called "bad" cholesterol that furs up arteries and raises the risk of a life-threatening clot forming near the heart or brain. The findings, by researchers at Florida State University in the US, support previous evidence that apples could be good for the heart. But the latest study suggests they could benefit one of the highest-risk groups.
London, July 26 (IANS) India's Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Thursday urged countries across the world, especially in European region, to liberalise visa norms and allow free movement of labour across borders. "If we are viewing the trade paradigm from a perspective of generating sustainable employment, it is imperative to address the issue of free movement of labour across borders," Sharma said while addressing a business event called "Global Investment Conference" here. Sharma said movement of labour was equally important as is the case with capital and technology. He wondered why the labour can't move freely in "today's globalised world, where capital and technology move with unprecedented speed and in unprecedented volumes across national boundaries". Sharma claimed that India was in "an advanced stage of concluding an ambitious Broad based Trade and Investment agreement" with the European Union.