* Putin thrilled by judo gold for Russian
* “Goodbye beloved badminton,” Chinese star says
* Britain doubles gold tally
* Phelps, Lochte to slug it out one last time
By Mark Trevelyan and Ossian Shine
LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Black belt Vladimir Putin took on Britain’s David Cameron in judo diplomacy at the Olympics on Thursday and had the satisfaction of seeing a Russian win the nation’s third judo gold of the London Games.
The Russian president, who cultivates a macho image based partly on his judo skills, leapt to his feet with both fists aloft when Tagir Khaibulaev defeated his Mongolian opponent.
He then congratulated the victor in person, slapping him on the back and grabbing his cheeks with both hands.
Putin and Cameron were seen in animated conversation as they watched the action, though they failed in earlier talks in Downing Street to reach agreement on a joint approach to the Syrian crisis.
Cameron had cause for celebration too, as Britain doubled its gold medal haul to four with victory in the men’s double trap shooting and canoe slalom double, helping move the host nation up to fifth in the medals table.
Elsewhere the Olympic play-to-lose badminton fiasco took a fresh twist when Chinese star player Yu Yang quit the sport in anguish.
Yu was one of eight women, two each from China and Indonesia and four from South Korea, who were kicked out of the Games for playing to lose group matches in order to secure easier knockout berths.
”This is my last competition. Goodbye Badminton World Federation, goodbye my beloved badminton,“ Yu wrote on her Tencent microblog. ”We ...only chose to use the rules to abandon the match.
“You have heartlessly shattered our dreams. It’s that simple, not complicated at all. But this is unforgivable,” said Yu, who with Wang Xiaoli, was top-seeded in the women’s doubles.
China’s state news agency Xinhua pulled no punches, blaming the debacle on head coach Li Yongbo.
“Athletes should not get a paddling when it is head coach Li Yongbo’s evil strategy that is the major reason,” Xinhua said in a commentary.
The affair has sounded a rare sour note at a Games notable so far for enthusiastic crowds, dismal British weather and the historic feat of U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps in winning an all-time record 19th medal.
On Thursday evening he clashes for the final time in the pool with countryman Ryan Lochte. In their 200 metres individual medley, Phelps will vie once again to become the first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three Olympics.
The United States could do with a Phelps or Lochte gold as it sits second in the medals table, with 14 golds behind China’s 18.
Zhang Jike won an all-Chinese final in the men’s table tennis singles, while the U.S. women’s rowing eight took gold ahead of Canada and the Netherlands.
A collective sigh of relief was heaved over the length and breadth of Britain on Wednesday when the host country finally struck gold through rowing pair Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.
Cyclist Bradley Wiggins then cruised to victory in the men’s time trial, just 10 days after winning the Tour de France.
“Vodka and tonic helps,” said the man whose ginger sideburns have become the must-have fashion look, when asked if his achievements had yet sunk in.
Britain’s newspapers went into overdrive, with tabloid headlines blaring “Golden wonder”, “Gold rush” and “GOOOOOOOOOOOLD!”