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Pittman vows to `take control’ as she and coach part ways

Jana Pittman has dumped her coach.SYDNEY – Two-times world hurdles champion Jana Pittman has split with her coach Phil King less than seven months out from the London Olympics.
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Pittman announced the move yesterday, saying it was a mutual decision and time for her to take more control of her program.

The 29-year-old, who won world titles in 2003 and 2007, admitted she faced an uphill battle to make it to the London Games in July, having struggled with leg injuries in recent years.

Melbourne-based King masterminded Pittman’s rise to claim her first world crown.

She’s since had other coaches including Craig Hilliard and English husband Chris Rawlinson but recently reunited with King, the husband of Australia’s other great 400-metre hurdler, 1988 Olympic champion Debbie Flintoff-King.

“I am incredibly grateful for the time and effort that Phil has dedicated to me over the years, but it is time for me to take ownership and more control of my program,” Pittman said. “I have been in elite sport now for over 15 years and along the way have had some of the world’s best coaches support and educate me on the discipline of 400m hurdles.

“It is with this vast amount of knowledge and experience that I now feel it is time for me to take a new direction in my training.

“In doing this, the buck stops with me and I am ultimately responsible for the outcomes.”

Further doubt was cast on Pittman’s Olympic ambitions when she pulled out of the Christmas carnival series in Devonport, citing an ankle injury.

“I will leave no stone unturned in my quest to achieve my Olympic dream,” Pittman said.

“However, I am realistic about the uphill battle I will climb between now and then.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Death, injury mar Dakar Rally in Argentina

Motorcyclists wait for the start of stage three of the 2012 Dakar Rally from San Rafael to San Juan.MENDOZA, Argentina – Joan Roma of Spain won the third stage of the Dakar Rally while Krzysztof Holowczyc of Poland led overall yesterday.
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Frenchman Cyril Despres won the motorcycle stage to claim first place overall.

Compatriot Sebastien Coue was in critical condition after crashing during the second stage.

Coue was found in sand dunes in western Argentina, and hospital officials said that it was not clear how long he had been unconscious.

Officials at Teodoro J. Schestakow Hospital said that Sebastien Coue apparently crashed during the second stage of the rally and was exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees before he was found.

It is unclear how long he had been exposed to the extreme heat.

“He entered in critical condition,” hospital director Armando Dauverne said.

“We don’t know how long he was exposed to the sun. Right now he is in intensive care.”

The Dakar Rally, considered one of the most dangerous races in motor sports, has already claimed three lives this year.

Argentine bike rider Jorge Martinez Boero died in a crash in Sunday’s first stage.

On the same day, the pilot of an ultralight plane and his son died when the aircraft went down while following the race.

This is the fourth consecutive year the event is being held in South America.

The rally was held in Europe and Africa until the 2008 race was cancelled because of fears of terrorism.

It was moved to South America the next year.

The route this year is different to the first three, which were loop courses from Buenos Aires to Chile, and then back to Buenos Aires.

This year the race begins in Argentina, passes through Chile, and finishes in Lima, Peru, on January 15.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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The HSC: Hunter students excel

Some of the state’s top HSC students. – Picture by Jonathan CarrollHUNTER students have excelled across a range of fields in this year’s Higher School Certificate.
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An estimated 8000 Hunter and Central Coast students found out their results this morning online or by phone.

Twenty-nine local students from the region scored a mention on the list of top achievers. There were 824 mentions statewide.

To view the Top Achievers in Course list, click here.

Forty-four students made the prestigious list of all-rounders. There were a total of 1331 in NSW.

To view the All-round Achievers list, click here.

The region had 1243 students out of 16,419 in NSW who made the list of distinguished achievers. This list was for students who gained a score of more than 90 in subjects across 2154 subjects. There were 36,143 credits statewide.

To view the list of Distinguished Achievers, click here.

Stand-out performances included Merewether High, where three students made the state’s top 10 in food technology.

Both Hunter Valley Grammar and St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton, had five students on the list of all rounders, while selective school Merewether High had nine.

Students will receive their university entrance rankings tomorrow.

See how your school performed in tomorrow’s Newcastle Herald.

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Police search for Jesmond jewellery snatcher

POLICE are searching for a man who snatched a $6500 gold necklace from a Jesmond jeweller on Monday.
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The man entered Zamel’s Jewellery store at Stockland Jesmond at 4pm and asked to try on a heavy gold neck chain.

The man admired himself in a mirror for several minutes before taking the necklace off.

In the process of handing it back to the atendant he snatched the necklace back and fled from the store.

He is described as being 18 to 20 years old with brown curly hair and was wearing glasses and a green shirt.

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PM blamed for Indonesia visa changes

CANBERRA – Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is blaming federal government dysfunction for a change in Indonesian immigration policy that could boost the number of asylum seeker boats heading to Australia.
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The Indonesian government has confirmed plans to relax visa restrictions for three major asylum seeker source countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

That means people who may want to seek asylum in Australia will be able to more easily enter Indonesia, the main launching pad for the dangerous boat journey.

But Mr Abbott yesterday refused to criticise Indonesia’s decision.

“The problem with border protection more generally is not the Indonesian government, it’s the Australian government,” he said.

Mr Abbott mused on whether Indonesia had consulted Australia before making its decision.

“And if, as I suspect, there was no or very little consultation, you’ve got to wonder what the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister have been doing,” he said.

“Frankly if we had a more functional government, where the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were capable of having a conversation, we wouldn’t have the difficulties that we do with the Indonesians on this issue.”

Mr Abbott again made it clear he was in no mood to help the government resurrect its Malaysian people swap deal.

“What you won’t see from us are weak compromises with a bad government,” he said.

He urged the government to “get cracking” on reopening the Nauru detention centre, which was closed after the 2007 election won by Labor.

“You don’t need to be talking to the Coalition, you need to be talking with the government of Nauru,” Mr Abbott said.

“Get the centre open there.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Hammer-wielding robber hits Windale newsagency

POLICE are searching for a man who held-up a Windale newsagency with a hammer yesterday (Tuesday) morning.
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The man, who was wearing a red hoodie and brandishing a hammer, entered the Lake Street store at 6.40am.

While demanding money from the store’s two female employees, the man smashed the hammer into the cash register.

After discovering the cash register could no longer be opened, the man searched behind the counter for scratch lottery tickets without success.

He fled the scene on a BMX bike towards James Street.

He is described as being between 20 to 25 years old, slim build and was wearing a long sleeve black jacket with grey pants.

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Pontville detention centre to close at end of March

The detention centre in Pontville, near Hobart, is scheduled to close in late March, six months after the arrival of detainees on October 1.THE temporary immigration detention centre at Pontville in the state’s South is scheduled to close in late March, six months from the arrival of the first detainees on October 1, an Immigration Department spokeswoman said yesterday.
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The centre had initially been scheduled to open in May last year and close the following October.

One of the reasons for establishing the centre was to meet demand while two new centres were being built, one in Western Australia and the other in the Northern Territory.

Both the new centres are now operating.

The 65 most recent asylum seekers to be housed at Pontville arrived on New Year’s Eve after being processed on Christmas Island.

They were from a number of countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Palestine.

According to the department, a special Christmas lunch was held on Christmas day for the small number of Christian asylum seekers at Pontville and a religious service was also available.

The spokeswoman said all activities and events – including soccer, cricket and English language tuition – had been running as normal during the Christmas/New Year period.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Manchester City thrashes Liverpool

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina had a very bad day against Manchester City.LONDON – Manchester City rediscovered its attacking flair to sweep aside Liverpool 3-0 and move three points clear at the top of the English Premier League.
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As Tottenham emerged as serious title challengers with a 1-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion, goals from Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and James Milner gave 10-man City their big home win.

A lacklustre Christmas period saw City lose at Sunderland and draw at West Bromwich, but the side started 2012 more ruthlessly back at Eastlands.

Its 100 per cent home record was extended to 10 matches after Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina gifted Aguero a soft opener, Toure exploited poor defending to head home and Milner scored from the penalty spot after City midfielder Gareth Barry had been sent off.

“We were incredibly efficient and it’s a great win,” City captain Vincent Kompany said. “It is one of the top six teams out of the way and now we know Manchester United and the other teams have to play each other.”

City has a three-point lead over Manchester United and is a further three points ahead of Tottenham.

Liverpool went into the match still dealing with the fallout from Luis Suarez’s repeated racial abuse of Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in October.

Accepting an eight-match ban while still protesting the punishment hours before yesterday’s game meant Suarez’s suspension immediately kicked in.

And with it, Liverpool lost its biggest threat and crashed to just its second defeat in 18 matches.

“If you want to be a successful team, and they are one, you have got to be clinical,” Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said.

““We’ve got to get that into our make-up. Tonight we never had that. It’s a lesson learned for us.”

City took just 10 minutes to go in front, with Milner releasing David Silva, who in turn fed Aguero and the striker’s 20-metre shot passed under Reina’s diving body into the net.

It was slack marking from Silva’s 33rd-minute corner that allowed Toure to head in the second off the underside of the crossbar.

Even bringing on the experienced duo of Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy after the break could not spark a Liverpool revival.

Neither could City being reduced to 10 men from the 73rd when Barry, booked for a first-half foul on Jay Spearing, bumped into Daniel Agger and was sent off.

Within a minute of that, Martin Skrtel’s foul on Toure gave City a penalty kick that Milner sent high into the net.

City manager Roberto Mancini apologised later for brandishing an imaginary yellow card on the touchline at Skrtel. “In the moment maybe I did that because I was not happy with the referee, but I made a mistake,” he said.

City will now be hoping United slips up against Newcastle today to maintain its three-point lead over the champion.

For now, Tottenham is just three points behind United thanks to Jermain Defoe’s 63rd-minute goal against West Brom.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Fiji confirms Rick Stone as national coach

SECOND JOB: Rick StoneKNIGHTS assistant Rick Stone will intertwine international commitments with his domestic duties after finally being confirmed as Fiji’s coach for the next rugby league World Cup.
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The Newcastle Herald reported on October 26 that Stone would coach Fiji from next year up to and including the 2013 World Cup in England, Wales, Ireland and France.

That was in the week leading up to Fiji’s two-Test tour of Papua New Guinea, during which Stone was technical adviser to Jo Rabele.

Stone has known since then that he would succeed Rabele, who took the Bati to the 2008 World Cup semi-finals in Australia, but the official appointment only came last Saturday at a Fiji National Rugby League board meeting.

Rabele will be an assistant to Stone, who was chosen from a short list that also included former Kiwi Test centre Richie Blackmore and English-based Australian club coach Dave Woods.

FNRL chairman Peni Musunamasi described Stone, who has coached the Knights to two finals series in the past three seasons and will be Wayne Bennett’s assistant for the next four years, as ‘‘the best experienced person for the job”.

“Jo has been with the FNRL through thick and thin. He has proven himself in 2008, and we have a lot of respect for him,” Musunamasi told the Fijilive website.

“It wasn’t an easy decision because of Jo’s contribution to FNRL but we are thinking of what is good for Fiji Bati, and we feel Rick has the experience to take us further.

“We look forward to seeing Rick and Jo work together. Personally I think they make a strong team and FNRL is lucky to have both their services.”

Stone said he took on the Fijian job with the blessing of Bennett, Knights chief executive Matt Gidley and Hunter Sports Group chief executive Troy Palmer.

‘‘It won’t in any way hinder anything I’m doing in a Knights capacity,’’ Stone said.

Stone hoped to build a competitive team around a nucleus of senior players including Australian internationals Petero Civoniceva and Lote Tuqiri, Fiji skipper Wes Naiqama and his brother and Knights teammate Kevin, and brothers Ashton, Tariq and Korbin Sims.

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D-Day for Newcastle race track

TEST: Jockeys, stewards, trainers and officials inspect the track after it was closed in October.TOMORROW is D-Day for the Newcastle Jockey Club.
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Champion Jockey Robert Thompson and NSW’s chief steward, Ray Murrihy, will be part of a delegation that will decide the immediate future of Newcastle racing tomorrow morning.

Thompson will travel down from his base at Cessnock to be part of the first trackwork session on the refurbished course proper at Broadmeadow.

Three sets of two-horse gallops will be held from 9am.

If the track gets the thumbs-up, three full barrier trials will be held on the course proper on Monday.

If it does not pass muster, it is unlikely that the club’s lucrative Boxing Day meeting will go ahead.

The 110-year-old track was closed by Racing NSW on October 20 after it was deemed unsafe for racing due to undulations in the surface and a reverse camber on the home turn.

A total of 20,000 square metres of turf has been laid from about the 1200m mark to 100m before the finishing post.

Work began on October 25 and the last turf was laid in the shute for the 900m start on November 5.

Thompson and leading Newcastle jockey Andrew Gibbons will take charge of horses chosen to work on the course proper.

Apprentice Blake Spriggs and trackwork riders Cameren Swan and Shane Treweek, both of whom were former successful jockeys, will also take part.

Newcastle’s big three from the training ranks – Paul Perry, Kris Lees and Darren Smith – have agreed to provide horses for the gallop session.

Racing NSW chief steward Murrihy will head a team of experts travelling from Sydney to watch the gallops and inspect the track.

Course manager of Broadmeadow Leigh Murrell said that he ‘‘could not be happier with the way grass has responded’’.

‘‘The root depth is where we want it,’ Murrell declared.

’The rain that we received recently has helped but of course we would have loved some real hot weather during the day as well.

’Really it is hard to tell where the old grass ends and the new grass starts.’

Lees said he was looking forward to seeing how horses galloped over the new course.

’I have walked the new ground, even tried to kick up a divot but the turf seems well laid,’ Lees said.

’It looks fantastic and it will now be just a matter of seeing how horses go on it at a fast pace.

’The club has asked Robbie Thompson to come down and I will have him on some of mine.

’There could be no better bloke to tell us how a track is.’

Darren Smith will not be on hand to watch the gallops.

Smith is preparing his sprinter Atomic Force for a crack at the $200,000 group 1 Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie in New Zealand on New Year’s Day and will be watching him trial at Warwick Farm

’After the trial I might ask the NJC if Atomic Force can gallop on the Broadmeadow course proper next week,’ Smith said.

Atomic Force will then go to New Zealand on December 21.

Following their inspection of Broadmeadow Murrihy and his team will head to Cessnock.

They will inspect the Cessnock course to see if it is fit for racing there on Friday.

The Cessnock track has been inundated by rain.

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