Thursday, August 2, 2012

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United States' Nathan Adrian, left, celebrates his gold medal win in the men's 100-meter freestyle swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. Australia's James Magnussen is seen to his right.(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Adrian, Schmitt dole out heartache to Aussies

LONDON (AP) — Nathan Adrian took out the Missile by a fingertip. Then Allison Schmitt dealt more heartache to the team from Down Under.
Adrian, a 23-year-old largely overshadowed by American stars such as Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, made a name for himself by winning the 100-meter Olympic freestyle Wednesday. He lunged to the wall to edge James "The Missile" Magnussen by one-hundredth of a second — the slightest margin possible — and again deny Australia its first individual swimming gold of the London Games.
Adrian pounded the water, then put his hands over his eyes while dangling over the lane rope, as if he couldn't believe the "1'' beside his name. Magnussen hung at the end of the pool, staring straight ahead at the wall in disbelief, the wall he got to just a fraction of a second too late.
"It's not who swims the fastest time this year," said Adrian, a not-so-subtle dig at Magnussen posting the best time ever in a textile suit back in March. "It's who can get their hands on the wall first here tonight."
The Aussies took another bitter defeat in the final event of the evening, again to their American rivals as Schmitt chased down Alicia Coutts for gold in the 4x200 freestyle relay.
Schmitt dived in the water about a half-second behind but passed Coutts on their first return lap and won going away in 7 minutes, 42.92 seconds. The Australians settled for another silver in 7:44.41, while France took the bronze.
Schmitt is turning into one of the biggest American stars of the games, picking up her second gold to go along with a silver and a bronze. Seventeen-year-old Missy Franklin also claimed her second gold swimming the leadoff leg, and Dana Vollmer now has two golds in London. Shannon Vreeland rounded out the gold medal-winning quartet.
Like the Aussies, the record book also took quite a beating.
Daniel Gyurta and Rebecca Soni both set world records in the 200 breaststroke. The Hungarian won gold, while Soni set her mark in a semifinal heat, further proof that its still possible to go fast — really fast — even without the now-banned bodysuits. Five records have fallen over the first five days at the Olympic Aquatics Centre, defying those who felt it would take years, maybe even decades, to take down some of the marks set with technological assistance.
"If I feel good, I don't want to hold back. I shouldn't," Soni said. "I just went for the last 50 and I started to hear the crowd halfway through and just kept going with it.
"It's been four years since I swam close to that fast, so it's great to be back on top like that."
Adrian was on top of the world after touching in 47.52, giving the U.S. its first title in swimming's signature event since Matt Biondi at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Canada's Brent Hayden took silver in 47.80, his country's first medal ever in the furious down-and-back sprint.
"We were in the ready room and we watched it and just went nuts," Lochte said. "We were screaming and everything. That was one of the greatest finishes. We're so happy for him."
Adrian watched Soni's record on television while chatting with reporters in the mixed zone.
"Whoa, Rebecca just set a world record," he said. "I'm overshadowed by Rebecca setting a world record."
He should be used to that by now, swimming for a team that includes Phelps and Lochte. But Adrian gave a glimpse of his potential in the 4x100 free relay, going faster than Magnussen on the opening leg, a shocker given that the Missile had looked unbeatable at last year's worlds and went a stunning 47.10 at his country's national trials.
Unfortunately for the Aussies, Magnussen hasn't been at his best when it really mattered, and these Olympics are turning into a downright bummer for the swimmers from Down Under.
"I just felt pretty much bulletproof coming into this Olympics," Magnussen said. "It is very humbling."
Australia, which normally battles with the Americans for pool supremacy, has eight medals but its only gold came in the women's 4x100 free relay. The Americans are pulling away in the medal table with eight golds and 18 medals overall.
"I have a lot more respect for guys like Michael Phelps who can come to the Olympics and back it up under that pressure," Magnussen said. "It is a pretty tough time to learn you are human."
The Americans are feeling good about themselves, producing more of a team effort after Phelps dominated the last two Olympics.
"We've had a great week so far," Phelps said. "We are just starting to pick up more and more steam, so hopefully we can finish it."
Gyurta needed every bit of speed in his race to finish off Michael Jamieson, who made a furious bid for Britain's first gold at the pool. The Hungarian touched in 2:07.28, shaving 0.03 off the previous mark set by Christian Sprenger of Australia at the 2009 world championships in a suit that is no longer allowed.
Soni showed plenty of speed, too, and it wasn't even for a medal. She touched in 2:20.00 to break yet another of the bodysuit records, a time of 2:20.12 set by Canada's Annamay Pierse at the '09 worlds.
Jiao Liuyang of China set an Olympic record to win the women's 200 butterfly. She was second at the final turn but sprinted into the lead to touch in 2:04.06 seconds, 0.12 quicker than countrywoman Liu Zige's time at the 2008 Beijing Games. Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain took silver in 2:05.25 and Natsumi Hoshi of Japan finished in 2:05.48 to take bronze.
Gyurta trailed two-time defending Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima midway through the men's breaststroke, but seized control on the third leg as the Japanese star began to fade. Making the final turn, Gyurta seemed to be in control.
Then, as he popped up and down in the water, heading for home, Gyurta suddenly felt Jamieson surging up on his right shoulder. The Aquatics Centre was in a frenzy as the two approached the wall, but Gyurta got there first.
Jamieson nearly broke the old mark, as well, settling for silver in 2:07.43. Ryo Tateishi of Japan took bronze in 2:08.29.
"I've received so many messages of support and I was desperate to get on the podium to thank everyone," Jamieson said.
Kitajima was edged for a spot on the podium by six-hundredths of a second. His countryman Tateishi slapped the water when he saw his third-place position, while Kitajima was again denied in his bid to become the first male swimmer to win the same individual race in three straight Olympics.
"I have no regrets," Kitajima said.
Back to you, Mr. Phelps.
While the American has missed on his first two tries at an unprecedented threepeat, finishing fourth in the 400 individual medley and second in the 200 butterfly, he's got two more chances to pull it off: the 200 IM and the 100 fly.
Kitajima is done.
One night after becoming the most decorated Olympian ever with his 19th medal, Phelps had a relatively light day, swimming the prelims and semifinals of the 200 IM. Lochte also competed in the medley, as well as the two rounds of the 200 backstroke — one of his toughest days in London.
Lochte posted the second-fastest time in the backstroke semis, his time of 1:55.40 trailing only fellow American Tyler Clary's 1:54.71. Then, in the IM, he was fastest in 1:56.13, ahead of Hungary's Laszlo Cseh (1:56.74) and Phelps (1:57.11), whose mind might have been on other things.
On the way to the pool, Phelps got a call from President Barack Obama, congratulating him on becoming the most decorated athlete in Olympic history.
Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands set an Olympic record to lead the women's 100 freestyle semifinals, while defending champion Britta Steffen of Germany failed to advance. Kromowidjojo was timed in 53.05, seven-hundredths faster than Steffen's swim at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Melanie Schlanger of Australia qualified second in 53.38, while Franklin was third in 53.59. Steffen was a dismal 12th.
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Tune in to an AP Google Hangout at 4 p.m. London time (11 a.m. EDT) Thursday with Paul Newberry, who will be chatting about swimming and diving competition at the Games. He'll also take your questions. Sign up here:

Aug 2, 2012 6:00am

Bollywood Actress Likely to Boost Career By Posing in Playboy

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Years ago, a Bollywood actress posing naked might have sparked riots (we already know what happens when a Bollywood actress gains weight). But for Sherlyn Chopra, baring all for Playboy and being the first Indian woman to do so could come with benefits.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner confirmed via Twitter last month that Chopra will appear nude in the November issue of the men’s magazine. Chopra touted her “achievement” to the BBC. She posed at the Playboy mansion in July after writing to Hefner expressing her interest.
“I am thinking of making him my idol because he lives his life on his terms and conditions,” she said. “I also live my life on my terms and conditions.”
It’s a path that’s been trod before. Sunny Leone, a Canadian-born Indian actress, made her name in softcore pornography before transitioning to Bollywood. She debuts in the ironically named Bollywood thriller “Jism 2″ this week.
Pakistani actress Veena Malik was shunned by her country’s film industry after posing semi-nude for India’s FHM magazine. But she managed to find work in India, appearing in and filming eight Bollywood movies this year.
Chopra was a relative unknown before Playboy. She’s appeared in a handful of Bollywood films (the Hindustan Times described her performances as “blink-and-miss”) and participated in the Indian version of “Big Brother” in 2009.
Mumbai Mirror columnist Aseem Chhabra told that with India’s liberalization and array of new cable news networks looking for gossip, people like Chopra have an opportunity to become household names.
“Every year, there are a couple of starlets who sort of make news by being shocking,” he said. “Film censors are getting more liberal because there have been protests that they randomly cut scenes from. And in the process, these people are rising up.”
But what’s shown on the screen won’t be the stuff displayed at Hef’s legendary mansion. Playboy is banned in India, and kissing on the big screen only became acceptable in the past few years. (Chhabra noted that “there are still many actors and actresses who may not want to kiss.”)
“With India transitioning to the Western world, all of this is happening,” he said. “Of course, compared to Western standards, it’s so little they show.”

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Boxing: Cuba's Estrada survives stern early test

LONDON (Reuters) - Top seeded Cuban bantamweight Lazaro Alvarez Estrada beat future U.S. professional fighter Joseph Diaz Jr. on Wednesday to advance to the quarter-finals in the best fight of the Games so far.
The 21-year-old world amateur champion, possessing one of the longest reaches in the 56 kg division, overcame the American teenager 21-15 in a fight that could have been for Olympic gold had they been in opposite sides of the draw.
Diaz Jr., who told Reuters this week that he would turn pro after the Games so he could buy a new house for his unemployed parents, had the Cuban shaken in the first round and justifiably counted himself unlucky to be 4 points behind going into the last.
Estrada, who also beat Diaz Jr. on his way to his first world title last year, was able to pick off the American on enough occasions to convince the judges and his rapid fire combinations will have the rest of the draw worried.
"I felt a lot of pressure, whilst I am the number one seed this is also my first Olympics Games. There is a lot of expectations on me," Estrada told reporters through a translator.
"It was a lot of pressure because there is so many things riding on it and it is something I feel I want to do for my country."
Diaz Jr., who plans to enter professional boxing at super-bantamweight level, said he hoped the Cuban would go on to win the gold, an achievement that eluded the whole of the boxing mad nation four years ago.
After his parents sold t-shirts and washed cars to raise enough money to travel to London with their son, Diaz Jr. was looking forward to have some family time and not having to watch his weight so assiduously.
"We're probably going to have a bit of a vacation now, go out for dinner. Finally I get to eat me some french fries and cheesecakes which I haven't had for a long time," he said.
Estrada next faces Robenilson Vieira de Jesus on Sunday after the Brazilian narrowly beat Russia's Sergey Vodopiyanov 13-11. The winner of their fight will be guaranteed a spot on the medals podium.
Twice a bronze-medalist at the World amateur championships, the only Irish fighter to do so, John Joe Nevin also advanced to the quarter-finals, beating Kanat Abutalipov of Kazakhstan 15-10 in the cagiest fight of the session.
Nevin, a member of Ireland's travelling community, will square up against Oscar Fierro Valdez on Sunday after the Mexican upset fourth-seeded world amateur championship bronze medalist Anvar Yunusov of Tajikistan in a 13-7 win.
Nevin was under no illusion of what will happen if he is not on his game.
"On a good performance I can go all the way. On a bad performance, anyone can beat me," the Irishman said.
(Editing by Alison Williams)


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Typhoon batters Taiwan, kills 5; China on alert

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Torrential rain triggered landslides and flooding across Taiwan on Thursday, killing five people and injuring 15, as Typhoon Saola skirted the island's east and north coasts and headed towards China.
The military helped more than 1,000 people flee from the less-populated mountainous north and east of the island, while in main cities including the capital, Taipei, most businesses, schools and financial markets were shut for the day.
About 100 domestic and international flights were cancelled, train services disrupted and roads closed.
The National Fire Agency said that as of mid-afternoon, five people had been killed, including a policeman who drowned in a swollen river, and 15 injured. Two people were missing.
Three of Taiwan's top technology exporters, chipmakers TSMC and Nanya Tech, and LCD panel maker AU Optronics, said none of their facilities were affected and they were running as normal.
Saola briefly made landfall on Taiwan's east coast early on Thursday, weakening to a tropical storm as it turned back out to sea and then moved northwest, skirting the island's north coast and heading for China.
Authorities there have issued warnings for it and a separate storm, Typhoon Damrey, which is expected to pass north of China's financial hub of Shanghai on Friday but which is also expected to weaken to a tropical storm.
China's meteorological agency issued typhoon warnings on Thursday for the southern and eastern provinces of Fujian and Jiangsu.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has told authorities to be on the highest alert.
Wen, who usually leaves more junior leaders to oversee arrangements before storms, told authorities to step up preparations and "put people's lives first", the official Xinhua news agency said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Standing, Clare Jim and Faith Hung in TAIPEI and Sui-lee Wee in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel)