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WRAPUP 5-Olympics-Cheer for Putin, thrills and spills in cycling
August 2, 2012 / 6:45 PM / 5 years ago

WRAPUP 5-Olympics-Cheer for Putin, thrills and spills in cycling

* Putin thrilled by judo gold for Russian

* Double disqualification drama in velodrome

* “Goodbye beloved badminton,” Chinese says

* Phelps, Lochte to slug it out one last time

By Mark Trevelyan

LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Black belt Vladimir Putin cheered a Russian judoka to victory on Thursday at the Olympic Games, where cycling saw a double disqualification drama and a ‘play-to-lose’ badminton scandal took a new twist.

On a day when world records tumbled at the futuristic velodrome, Britain won the men’s cycling team sprint but China were disqualified in the final of the women’s event, handing victory to Germany.

Controversy struck in boxing. A Turkmen referee was expelled for failing to stop a bout in which a fighter was knocked down six times, and an Angolan coach was deemed a “plonker” by his team chief for failing to present their only fighter for a weigh-in, thus getting him disqualified.

It was Russian President Putin who staged one of the day’s most emphatic victory celebrations, leaping to his feet with both fists aloft when his countryman Tagir Khaibulaev defeated a Mongolian opponent to win Russia’s third judo gold.

Putin, who cultivates a macho image based partly on his skills on the mat, slapped the victor repeatedly on the back and grabbed his cheeks with both hands.

He and British Prime Minister David 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 satisfaction too, as Britain raised its gold medal haul to five with victory in the cycling, the men’s double trap shooting and the canoe slalom double, helping move the host nation up to fifth in the medals table.

In the scandal over match-throwing in the badminton tournament, disqualified Chinese Yu Yang announced she was quitting 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 to secure easier knockout berths.

LAST COMPETITION

The International Olympic Committee asked the national delegations of all three countries to investigate the role of their coaches in the scandal.

“This is my last competition. Goodbye Badminton World Federation, goodbye my beloved badminton,” Yu wrote on her microblog. “We... only chose to use the rules to abandon the match.”

China’s state news agency Xinhua blamed 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.

China remained top of the medals table with 18 golds, including one for Zhang Jike in an all-Chinese men’s table tennis final.

The United States moved up to 15 with victories for its women’s rowing eight and for 16-year-old Gabby Douglas in the all-around gymnastics, where she edged out Russians Victoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina.

The Americans were hoping for more success later in the pool, with Michael Phelps taking on team mate and rival Ryan Lochte for a final duel in the 200 metres individual medley.

In the velodrome, nicknamed the Pringle for its resemblance to a curvy potato snack, Britain’s men beat France and broke the world record in the team sprint final, after the Chinese and British women had also set world records.

But the latter, strong medal contenders, were disqualified after Victoria Pendleton went too early on a change-over with team mate Jessica Varnish.

China were relegated for a takeover infringement in the final, ending with the silver medal as the German team celebrated their promotion to gold.

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