August 2, 2008 / 8:54 AM / 11 years ago

Briefs-Philippines President Arroyo sets gold medal bounty

Aug 2 (Reuters) - Sports news in brief from around the world:

Olympics - Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has pledged to give 15 million pesos ($344,700) to any Filipino athlete who can win a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, local media reported on Saturday.

The Philippines have never won an Olympic gold and last made the podium in 1996 when boxer Mansueto Velasco clinched a silver medal in the light-flyweight boxing.

They have a team of 15 athletes entered in boxing, swimming, diving, archery, athletics, taekwondo, shooting and weightlifting.

Swimming - Nick Thoman, who missed out on the United States Olympic team, came within 0.03 seconds of Aaron Piersol’s world 100 metres backstroke record at the U.S. Open in Minneapolis.

Thoman, who was sixth at the U.S. selection trials, clocked 52.92 to join Athens double gold medallist Piersol as the only men under the 53-second barrier in the event.

“That swim came out of nowhere,” said Thoman, who carved 0.8 seconds off his best time. “I felt great, so I just let it rip.”

Olympics-Synchronised swimming - The Spanish synchronised swimming team has decided to move from Beijing to Shanghai to continue their preparation for the Games.

“The atmosphere and the water are cold (in the Beijing aquatics centre), although we knew that would be the case,” coach Anna Tarres was quoted as saying in sports daily AS. “We are also going to Shanghai because we can train their more freely. Here once the swimming starts we have practically no time allocated in the pool for training.”

* Olympics-Soccer - The court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) said Barcelona had appealed against the FIFA decision ordering them to release Under-23 player Lionel Messi for the Olympics.

CAS said the ruling would be delivered on or before Aug. 6.

* Olympics-Hockey - The Azerbaijan Hockey Federation has appealed to CAS against the International Hockey Federation (FIH) decision to allow Spain to compete in the Olympics after exonerating the team following an alleged doping case involving two Spanish players in the qualifying tournament in Baku in April.

The FIH found one player guilty of a doping violation without significant fault or violation and the other was exonerated of any offence. Spain, who qualified ahead of Azerbaijan in the tournament, argued the cases were the result of possible attempt at sabotage.

Soccer - Malaysia soccer officials will decide over the weekend whether to ban foreign players from their national league. The country’s soccer federation is concerned foreign imports are weakening the national team while state federations have complained foreign players’ salary demands are too high.

“We are going to put the national team above all,” competitions committee chairman Che Mat Jusoh told local media. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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