Over 550,000 spectators attended the 9th World Championships in Athletics, putting an overwhelming seal of public approval on a hugely successful event. Prefect Jean Dussourd, President of the Organising Committee, was keen to thank all those who made the occasion so memorable. With enthusiastic fans who came out in massive numbers, a fabulous atmosphere in the stadium and a French team that made history by performing like never before, the Championships proved a runaway success in every way. At a post event press conference, Organising Committee President Jean Dussourd looked back over the nine days and was at pains to thank all those involved in the event: ?We have proved once again that when it comes to major events, we in France can always rise to the occasion. Many challenges were met. People wondered whether the Athletes Village would work but it did and it worked well. It was a hit and security was ensured. The stadium proved to be excellent from a technical perspective and demonstrated it is made for athletics. As for the transport, the service provided by RATP was extraordinary.? Jean Dussourd was full of praise for the 3,700 ?enthusiastic and efficient? Volunteers who worked tirelessly from start to finish. "From the welcome at the airport to accompanying athletes to the various venues, everyone was more than satisfied with the service the Volunteers provided ,? he said The figures all look better than expected too. ?At the end of 2002, we wondered whether we would fill the Stade de France®. We estimated we would need to sell 365,000 tickets to balance the books. At the D-100 mark we had reached that figure but we were still some way off full capacity. The last two months were excellent and during the competition itself we were selling up to 5,000 tickets a day." In all, 550,132 fans attended the championships, making 93% capacity. Almost two thirds of tickets were bought on the Internet. This success results from a number of factors relating to the organisation of these 9th World Championships. "An extensive ticketing network. A long term campaign in conjunction with the Ministry for Sport, the local authorities and the French Athletics Federation, along with a comprehensive and innovative communication campaign that stirred up interest,? explained Jean Dussourd. The atmosphere in the stadium and the entertainment laid on around it were very positive too.? The success of an event of this scale is also measured by the media coverage it receives. With 58 hours coverage over the nine days, France Télévisions has never broadcast so much athletics. And the viewing figures make for good reading. The event rewarded the channel with 24% market share, for an average of 2.7 million viewers. The women?s long jump, won so thrillingly by home hope Eunice Barber, was the most watched event, with 42% market share and 6.6 million viewers on France 2. In conclusion, the Organising Committee President wished to underline that the long term aim of these World Championships was to attract new would-be athletes to their local athletics clubs, particular young people from urban hotspots. Only then will the race have been won. Neven Luledzija, Paris
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand will be charged with deliberately missing his anti-doping test, leading to the possibility of a two-year ban. On the eve of the England's match against Turkey in Euro 2004 qualifications, one of the best defenders of the world simply refused to be tested against forbidden substances. Only days after this, the news about Dwain Chambers, another British top-rank athlete, shook the world of Athletics. During the unravelling of this story, some American sports stars were also found positive on the new super steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG). Is there a possible steroid-contamination of the football, as well as athletics? To add insult to the injury, some tabloids published Ferdinand's mobile-phone number. On the other hand, Football Association is taking it's sweet time regarding verdict on this case. The FA's complaining unit, led by Steve Barlow, is still examining the evidence, and is keen to ensure fairness to all sides following Ferdinand's failure to take a drug test on September 23rd ? that is the official version. Adrian Bevington, FA spokesman said: "In the interest of all parties concerned, and football in general, the FA will proceed through all the facts with due diligence before making any decision as to what further steps within the process may be taken. Therefore, we will not be setting any deadlines as to when the FA will make an announcement concerning their decision on reviewing the evidence. We have no plans to issue any further comment until this stage of the process is concluded." The England defender was selected at random by UK Sport anti-doping officials to take a drug test on United's training ground in Carrington. But, he left the place, claiming that he had forgotten, because he was moving from one house to another. He claims he tried to reschedule the test for later in the day by phone. The documents he and Manchester United submitted includes his mobile phone record, which could provide decisive evidence in this case. As the things are, Ferdinand is certain to face at least a charge of failing to attend an anti-doping test. It may become aggravated if the FA gathers evidence that he did it deliberately. In such a case, that would most probably mean a long ban from the green fields. On the other hand, United's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson is standing by his defender. At the same time, he claims that there will be no mercy for any player using drugs: " If there were any danger of one of our players dabbling in any kind of drug, be it to enhance his performance, or for his social life, he would quickly be gone from Manchester United," Ferguson said in his interview to the News Of The World. FIFA also took interest in this case. It's Anti Doping Committee will discuss the Ferdinand's case on Tuesday, and it is possible that they will hand the England defender its own punishment over the missed drugs test. "We will look at the case and how it has been addressed already. But, there will be no decisions announced or recommendations made until after the English FA meeting," said Dr. Michael D'Hooghe, chairman of the Committee. "There are a number of options available but I will not try to predict what is discussed. This meeting has been planne for a long time, and there are another 25 issues to be looked at. We will not be only talking about the matter of Rio Ferdinand and the issue of tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), although those are very important matters on our agenda." Neven Luledzija, Paris
A Paris court has acquitted three press photographers who took pictures of Princess Diana and boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed on the night of their fatal car crash six years ago. The court found them
Say what you may about President George W. Bush's stance on the war with Iraq and on terrorism as a whole. Critics pepper anti-Bush, anti-war references to Vietnam and words like quagmire, implying the President has launc
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said Monday it has sent a mission to Bosnia to observe the campaign and preparations for the Oct. 1 general election.

Kidnapped when she was ten, Austria's Natascha Kampusch escaped eight-and-a-half years later. During her captivity she thought carefully about how she wanted to live once free. Now she's a media star and keeping to her script, surrounded by a team of eager advisors.

Martina Hingis was too strong for Tzipi Obziler on Wednesday evening, defeating the Israeli in the second round of the Sunfeast Open in Calcutta, India, 6-2, 7-5.

Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on September 5th 1946 in Zanzibar, to parents Bomi & Jer Bulsara. Freddie moved to India in 1947. He attended boarding school in Panchgani, just outside Bombay. Whilst there he began his piano lessons, reaching Grade 4 in practical and theory.

Ex-James Bond Pierce Brosnan and former Bond villain Christopher Lee have come to the defence of British actor Daniel Craig whose choice as the new 007 is attracting growing criticism.

A leaked intelligence report of Osama bin Laden's death has met scepticism from Western and Muslim governments, but may increase clamour from his followers to show himself on video for the first time in nearly two years. One theory surrounding the mysterious French leak is that it was designed to flush the al-Qaida leader into the open, prompting him to release a new tape that might give a clue to his whereabouts and state of health.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pledged Thursday that Venezuela will support Iran if it is invaded as a result of the Middle Eastern nation's high-stakes nuclear standoff with the United Nations Security Council.

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For Jennifer Hawkins, winning the Miss Universe contest was a very unexpected boon. Born in the Australian state of New South Wales - in Holmesville, Newcastle to be precise - in 1984, Jennifer was truly shocked when she won the title of Miss Universe, as anyone who watched the 2004 event will attest to.

There's been a bit of a stink in Hong Kong in recent days involving a young pop star, some scandalous paparazzi photos, and yes ... Jackie Chan. Last week, a magazine called EasyFinder published photos of Gillian Chung (one half of the pop duo Twins) that were taken as she was changing out of her clothes backstage during a show.

Though winning the Miss Teen USA title has been a dream of 18-year-old Katie Blair?s since she was a child growing up in Billings, Montana, she only entered her state competition 4 days before it took place! Almost a year later, on August 15th, 2006, in front of a live television audience on NBC, her dream became a reality. A recent high school graduate, Katie will attend Louisiana State University, where she plans to major in advertising and marketing and will also pursue an associate?s degree in fashion design. (Her love of design is no surprise given that this intrepid art lover once traveled to Amsterdam to visit Van Gogh?s museum!) She says her dream job is to one day buy, sell and design clothes for her own company off Madison Avenue in New York City.