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Australia's red-hot Olympic favourite Sally Pearson suffered her first defeat of the season in the 100 metres hurdles as Games medal hopefuls found the going tough at a cold and wet London Grand Prix yesterday.

World champion Pearson, winner of 15 of her 16 races last year and unbeaten in 2012, led until the final two hurdles before she was overhauled by American Kellie Wells who won in a time of 12.57 seconds. Pearson was two hundredths of a second behind.

"My coach told me to come here and do something today and I think I did it pretty well, I'll have to go and check with him," said Wells, who celebrated her victory with a dance on the track, to the delight of the capacity crowd.

There was also a shock in the women's 100 metres with Nigerian Blessing Okagbare winning the race in 11.01 seconds, 0.02 ahead of world champion Carmelita Jeter.

Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce appeared to stumble slightly at the start and finished last, but was philosophical about her performance and refused to blame the wet weather.

"As an athlete you have to take precautionary measures and hope things get better because the Olympics are pretty much on us," she said.

"I don't think the weather was that bad. I hope that when I go on the track (at the Olympics) there'll be a lot of sunshine in my lane, Fraser Pryce told reporters with a smile.

Women's javelin world record holder and Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic came off second best to Britain's Goldie Sayers who won the event with a national record of 66.17 metres.

But the news was less good for Beijing silver medallist Phillips Idowu and high hurdler Tiffany Porter with both Britons suffering injury scares with a little under three weeks to the start of the athletics at the London Games.

Idowu pulled out of the triple jump competition with a back injury and Porter left the track in tears having finished last in her 100 hurdles heat in some discomfort.

In the Londoner's absence American world champion Christian Taylor had a comfortable win with a best distance of 17.41 metres but he did not discount the challenge he faced from Idowu at the Olympics.

France's Christophe Lemaitre won the men's 200 in a season's best time of 19.91 but said he would have to go faster to win an Olympic medal.

"I knew I could run under 20 seconds but to do that here is very good, two weeks before the Olympic Games. Now I'm very confident over this distance.

"For the Olympic Games I want to go even faster, because with (Usain) Bolt, (Yohan) Blake and the other sprinters I think that I must beat my personal best if I want to win a medal.

Britain's Christine Ohuruogu battled through a torrential downpour to overtake world gold medallist Amantle Montsho for victory in the women's 400 in 50.42.

It was in stark contrast to her 'appalling' performance — as the Olympic champion described it.

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Olympic legend Carl Lewis has cast doubt on sprint sensation Usain Bolt repeating as 100 metres champion at the London Olympics starting later this month.

Jamaican Bolt will start the July 27th to August 12 as the defending champion in both sprints after dominating in Beijing four years ago.

Lewis, who won gold in the event at the 1984 Los Angeles showpiece and four years later in Seoul, said it was difficult for sprinters to remain in peak condition for extended periods.

"The reason it hasn't been done is because it's hard to stay at that level for a long period of time. People are always trying to beat you when you are a champion," the American pointed out.

"(Yohan) Blake has beaten Bolt two years in a row now after the World Championships in 2011 and we don't know what Bolt's head is like when he loses."

He continued: "It's a challenge to win two in a row but history defines greatness. You don't have greatness in your time – you are great because of history.

"We always try to predict which races are going to be great but you just don't know and that is the brilliant thing about it."

Chinks appeared in Bolt's armour two weeks ago when he was twice beaten by training partner Blake at the Jamaica National Trials.

On both occasions, Blake clocked world-leading times – 9.75 seconds in the 100m and 19.80 in the 200m – to install himself as one of the favourites in London.

Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold medal winner, warned about the hype surrounding Blake.

"I still don't understand this Yohan Blake situation because one year ago I had never heard of him and now everyone is saying he is the greatest," Lewis said.

"But, in 2004, I went through the same thing with Maurice Greene. I said then that history defines greatness. Maurice only won bronze [in Athens] and then disappeared. That is why I let it all take place because I know how quickly it can change."

Lewis pointed out the 100m field was perhaps a lot more open than many were willing to admit.

"People are talking about Bolt but (Justin) Gatlin could win," said Lewis.

at the time — for last place at this meeting in 2011. "I've done all the work so I'm happy that I can take something like that away. I knew I had a good chance, I saw her (Montsho) look back so then I thought, 'I've got you now'," said Ohuruogu, who was disqualified from the world championships last year for a false start. Men's world champion Kirani James timed his race to perfection, surging to the front off the bend to win in 44.86. Kenyan Silas Kiplagat burst to the front off the final bend to win the men's mile in 3:52.44 after the race had been subject to two false starts, which were put down to a technical problem.

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Several African countries have pulled out of pre-Olympic training camps in Britain at the last minute because they are unable to pay the fees. Senegal, Uganda, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia and Mozambique are among the nations which have reneged on agreements to use the UK's training facilities before the Games.

Locog, the Games organisers, pledged to pay up to £25,000 to any Olympic or Paralympic team who did their training in the UK, but were prepared to pay out only afterwards. This has left poorer nations struggling to find the funds up front.

The lost time acclimatising to British weather and the missed opportunity to use international-standard facilities could put them at a disadvantage to other athletes. The no-shows will also be a blow to Locog, who planned the camps around Britain to help spread the legacy of the Games beyond London.

The Ugandan team were meant to be in Coventry before the Games but will now go straight to the Olympic Village on 22 July. A spokesman said: "There would have been a lot of expense involved… They all wanted to go to Coventry."

Gambian athletes had been expected in York, but Momodou Demba, chef de mission at Gambia's National Olympic Committee (NOC), said: "Unfortunately it did not work out… Locog promise to take care of the bill, but the fact that we would have to put up the money first then be reimbursed does not go down well. It's quite expensive."

Burundi never took up the offer of a British training camp because they knew they would not have the funds. Tharcisse Harerimana, executive secretary for the Burundi NOC, said: "If Locog had paid in advance then we could have come, but we had a meeting with them and they told us it was not possible to have this money."

Paralympic teams from Niger, the Central African Republic, The Gambia and Ghana are also understood to be abandoning pre-Games training in Britain for funding reasons.

A spokeswoman for Locog said: "We've always made it plain we'd pay at the end so it eliminates fraud and accusations of impropriety."

By Emily Dugan & Denise Roland


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Athletes arriving for the London 2012 Games are being told to keep out of the main Olympic Park because it is not yet ready.

With less than two weeks to go to the opening ceremony, the main park remains a construction site, and national teams, who begin arriving in London tomorrow, will have to stay away.

One team chief said yesterday: “We were told the Olympic Park won’t open until the 23rd. This is a week later than what we expected. We were told this is because of some construction issues in the park.

“We were assured they are relatively minor but it has come as a surprise because we had been told for some months now that the park was on time and ready, and it isn’t.’’

The disclosure came after a series of blows to organisers last week over the state of preparations, the most damaging being that troops are being called in after G4S, a private security firm, admitted it could not provide enough guards.

Yesterday its chief executive apologised for the fiasco, which will cost the firm up to £50 million, but admitted that he did not know if his security staff could even speak English.

About 30 teams, comprising about 1,000 athletes, are expected to take up residence in the athletes’ village, next to the Olympic Park, tomorrow with 5,000 expected by the end of the week.

More than 40 team bosses met on Friday at the athletes’ village and some were clearly taken by surprise by the admission that certain areas of the park would remain off limits. The Olympic Park, which hosts athletics, swimming, hockey, cycling and other sports, is still officially a construction site. Some contractors, who had passes valid up until Friday, are having to redo biometric tests to be able to gain access.

Venues, however, are finished, and athletes’ training programmes should not be disrupted.

Sources said the problems had been caused by the wet weather and security issues, but Locog, the London organising committee, said that work in the park was on schedule.

By Jacquelin Magnay and Robert Mendick


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India's Sports Ministry has warned the country's National Olympic Committee not to help Suresh Kalmadi travel to London 2012 after the disgraced former head of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi was given permission to attend the event.

Kalmadi, currently at the centre of corruption allegations linked to Delhi 2010, was granted permission by a court in New Delhi to leave India and visit London as long as he lodged a bond in case he failed to return.

But India's Sports Minister Ajay Maken has contacted Randhir Singh, secretary general of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), claiming that Kalmadi does not deserve to be allowed to visit the Olympics.

The Ministry claimed that since Kalmadi is embroiled in corruption cases, IOA should not support Kalmadi's trip.

Kalmadi had been the President of the IOA since 1996 but was effectively sacked in April 2011 and replaced by V K Malhotra, the head of the country's archery federation, after a court ordered him to be held in custody on corruption charges.

Kalmadi has been been charged by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly "illegally" awarding contract to install timing, scoring and results system for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to Swiss Timing.

But he has since been released on bail and, in his his plea to Special CBI Judge Talwant Singh, Kalmadi had said that he is a member of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council and Asian Athletics Association and sought permission to come to the Olympics.

Among the evidence that Kalmadi presented as part of his evidence was an invitation from the IAAF Council and details of an airline sent to him by Essar Gabriel, the secretary general of the IAAF.

But the Ministry immediately tried to block the trip.

"Taking into consideration the serious charges levelled against Kalmadi in the matters relating to conduct of the Commonwealth Games 2010 and that the court is still seized of the matter, the Ministry requests that the IOA, on ethical grounds, should not facilitate or sponsor the visit of Kalmadi to London in any manner including air travel, lodging and boarding in London and giving tickets for witnessing the Opening and Closing ceremonies and sports competitions of the London Olympics, 2012," the Ministry said in a letter written by Onkar Kedia, its joint Secretary.

"The IOA should also take up this issue with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and the IAAF, particularly, in the light of the fact that visit of Kalmadi to London Olympics, before corruption charges against him are cleared by the court, would defy the 'fundamental principles of Olympism'as enshrined in the 'Olympic Charter'."

By Duncan Mackay at the Main Press Centre on the Olympic Park in London


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