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Olympic round up: swimming, judo, tennis, sailing

Tuesday's Olympic action brought disappointment for the Swiss swimmer Karel Novy and for the European judo champion Sergei Aschwanden. There was good news in tennis, though, with Emmanuelle Gagliardi enjoying victory in the first round.

In the swimming, Novy was knocked out during the qualifying heats for the 100-metre freestyle final. The 20-year-old from Vevey had been looking to become the second Swiss swimmer to reach a final, following Remo Lütolf’s great performances in the 100-metre breaststroke.

But after a good first length, in which he swam 50 metres in under 24 seconds, Novy completely lost his rhythm. He finished his heat in sixth place with his time of 50″19 the 19th fastest overall.

The qualifying times for the final showed that a place in the last eight was well within Novy’s capabilities. If he had been able to equal his own Swiss record of 49’58” he would have reached the final.

Novy was unable to explain his performance. “I was concentrated, I wasn’t too nervous,” he insisted. “I can’t begin to understand why my second length was so mediocre.”

Novy still has the men’s 4×100-metre medley relay to look ahead to, but for the Swiss judo delegation Tuesday marked the end of the Sydney campaign.

Following the departures of David Moret and Isabelle Schmutz, Sergei Aschwanden became the third Swiss judoka to go out prematurely. The European under-81 kg champion suffered a surprise ippon defeat in his first round fight against Estonia’s Alexei Budolin.

After picking up an early shido penalty, Aschwanden levelled the contest just over a minute later with a koka, awarded when a throw contains just one of the four elements needed for a decisive victory.

In his efforts to secure such a winning throw (or ippon) Aschwanden then went on the offensive but was himself the victim of a counter-attack by his opponent. With the ippon awarded to the Estonian, Switzerland’s judo hopes had come to a rapid end.

“If I had grabbed his sleeve eight centimetres higher up, I would have beaten him”, Aschwanden claimed after the fight. “I was pulled through by my own momentum and practically fell into his arms. It’s really infuriating to be eliminated without being able to demonstrate my abilities.”

By contrast, Emmanuelle Gagliardi won her opening tennis match in the women’s singles without having to demonstrate much of her ability. In an unspectacular encounter with Indonesia’s Wynne Prakusya, Gagliardi was the better player, but that wasn’t saying much.

Prakusya, a wildcard entry in the Olympic tournament, made a number of unforced errors allowing Gagliardi to take the match 6-4, 7-6 (7-2). But the straight sets scoreline doesn’t show how hard Gagliardi had to struggle to take the second set against an opponent ranked nearly 40 places lower than her in the world rankings.

“It’s true that I didn’t play one of the best matches of my career,” admitted Gagliardi afterwards. “But the main thing was to win.”

The Swiss player is likely to find her next match a tougher proposition. In the second round she is due to face Germany’s Jana Kadarr, a player who seems to relish playing in Australia.

Kadarr won her only previous match against Gagliardi in a 1998 tournament on Australia’s Hope Island. Earlier this season the German enjoyed her greatest success to date in Melbourne, reaching the last sixteen of the Australian Open.

In the day’s sailing events Anja Käser climbed further up the rankings of the Mistral windsurfing competition. The 20-year-old finished the fourth fleet race in seventh place, matching her achievement in Monday’s third race.

After managing just 14th and 16th place in her first two races, Käser is now up to ninth in the overall rankings. In Tuesday’s race she again made a good start and was third after the third buoy, but as on Monday she was unable to maintain her early pace.

Tom Rüegge and Claude Maurer had an unscheduled rest day on Tuesday as a row blew up over a possible fault in the sails used by some teams in the 49er event. The German and New Zealand crews had complained that the weight of the top sails differed from boat to boat because of the various paints used in their designs.

After looking into the complaint, the competition’s organisers agreed to cancel the day’s racing to allow the issuing of new sails. But they refused to restart the competition, saying that the results of the first day’s racing would be allowed to stand.

swissinfo with agencies

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