Yao Ming Returns, Countries Vie For Final Spots in Olympic Basketball Draw
I forgot to mention yesterday that Yao Ming returned to play basketball in an exhibition match for China. (Click here for story.) China was very elated to see its star player back in action after an injury sidelined him from playing for the Houston Rockets six months ago. He scored 11 points and made four rebounds in the exhibition against Serbia.
Meanwhile, this past week, 12 teams were vying for the final three spots open in the Men's Olympic Basketball tournament. Teams from Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, Germany and eight other nations gathered in Athens, the site for the last Olympic Games, and competed in the Olympic Qualifiying Tournament. Four groups with three teams each played in a round robin format over a period of three days. The top two from each group then advanced to the knockout stages, beginning with the quarterfinals.
Today, the quarterfinals are being held. As of now, Croatia and Puerto Rico have advanced to the semifinals. Germany, led by Dirk Nowitski, will face Brazil while Greece will face New Zealand for the remaining two spots. For more on the tournament, check out the official website:
Athens 2008 Olympic Qualifying.
FIFA World Cup (Beach Soccer World Cup) in Marseilles, France
Who says soccer always has to be played on the pitch? Soccer in the summer was meant to be played on the sands and this week, the world's best beach soccer players have gathered on the beaches of Marseilles, France.
The beach soccer world cup began as the beach soccer world championships in 1995 at Rio de Janeiro and Brazil won six straight championships while a countless number of other countries placed second and third. Since 1995, the World Championships were always held at Copacabana Beach in Rio except from 2000-2002 when it was held in other beaches in Brazil. After Portugal's win in 2001, Brazil won another three consecutive championships. France become a surprise winner in 2005, the first year the world championships became the World Cup. Then Brazil won in 2006 and 2007.
This is the first year that the Beach Soccer World Cup is being held outside of Brazil but that doesn't change who the favorites are. Despite Brazil becoming the presumptive favorite to win the tournament every year, the competition is always interesting just because of the nature of beach soccer. It's a very offensive game since the field is smaller and you tend to find that the goals tend to be shot from farther away from the goal post than in regular soccer, mainly because the players move slightly slower in the sand and its easier to get a shot off from midfield than the end of the field. I guess you could say that Beach soccer is more of a shootout than an actual game. For more information, visit the official website.
Ronaldo To Stay With Manchester United
Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, said earlier today that winger Christiano Ronaldo will stay at Old Trafford, and not move to Real Madrid as many had speculated.
From BBC Sport:
"Ferguson met the winger - now out for three months following ankle surgery - in Lisbon last week after speculation about the 23-year-old's future.
"It went well. We put across our points of view, where we stand and where the player stands," explained Ferguson.
"I can say he'll be a Manchester United player next season. He won't be sold."
United will hope that Ferguson's comments at a press conference during the club's pre-season tour of South Africa will put an end to rumours linking Ronaldo with a switch to the Spanish champions."Ronaldo, who hasn't played since Portugal lost in the quarterfinals at Euro 2008, is currently recovering from ankle surgery and will be out for three months. Ronald nor Real Madrid has made any comments thus far.
IAAF Golden League Paris Results
The fourth leg of this year's Golden League, and the last before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, took place earlier today in Paris, France. The two remaining contenders for the $1 million jackpot won their respective events easily today. Pamela Jelimo of Kenya won the 800m race with a time of 1:54.97, while Croatian Blanka Vlasic won the high junp by jumping a height of 2.01.
Meanwhile, the rivalry continued in the 400 meter race between USA's Jeremy Wariner and LeShawn Merritt. Wariner, who has lost to Merritt twice this year already, had no problem winning the 400m race today after placing first with a time of 43.86, the fastest time ran in the world this season. Merritt placed second and Chris Brown of the Bahamas placed third.
And in the 110 meter hurdles, Cuba's Darron Robles came close to tying the world record mark that he set earlier in the year by winning today's race in a time of 12.88 seconds. That time was one-hundredth slower than the 12.87 seconds he ran in a Grand Prix meet in the Czech Republic.
Other athletic news...
Britain's Dwain Chambers failed in his bid to overturn a lifetime ban to compete in the Olympics. Chambers placed first in last week's British Olympic Trials but the British Olympic Association was awaiting the verdict from a London High Court on whether Chambers should be allowed to compete or not despite the ban given to him by the BOA after he was convicted of taking the banned drug THG in 2003. BBC Sport has more information right here...
And South African double amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius was not selected to compete at this year's Olympic Games after the South African Olympic Association opted to give his spot to a runner who has run the 400m in a faster time. Pistorius could not run the qualifying time of 45.55 seconds despite running a personal best time of 46.25 on Wednesday in an event in Lucerne, Switzerland. For more details, check out this report.