STUDENT SPORT: Britain overcome the great wall of China

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BRITAIN'S basketball team is one victory away from the quarter- finals of the World Student Games, after a remarkable turnaround win against China here yesterday.

Some sloppy shooting during the early morning game saw Britain trailing 38-29 at half-time. "There were a few F-words flying around the locker room," said Dan Lloyd, coach to the British team. "We made things very hard for ourselves."

With three players in the Chinese team standing at seven-foot tall, Britain struggled to get a grip on the match until, with 14 minutes to play, Shouqiang Wang, the dominating Chinese centre, was fouled out of the game.

But 10 of Britain's dozen players have NCAA experience in America, and their speed and jumping ability began to tell, Refiloe Lethunya and Robert Archibald contributing 16 points each to the final 71-53 scoreline.

While the idea of 6,000 fit young adults in Mallorca in July, indulging in a little sport near the beaches of Magaluf, would not normally be unusual, this summer it constitutes the second largest global multi-sports event after the Olympics, with teams from 114 countries competing.

Being a pre-Olympic year, the Unversiade has taken on added significance. These are far from being the Club 18-30 Games.

The top American hurdler, Larry Wade, is the latest star to be linked with the event. The fastest in the world this year at 110 metres hurdles, Wade will make a decision whether to race in Palma later this week, after failing to win selection for the United States team for next month's World Championships.

The all-round gymnastics world champion Svetlana Khorina, of Russia, added the World Student Games gold medal to her collection yesterday. Britain's Andrea Leman was placed 17th with a lifetime best score of 35.26 points.

Presumably, life on a student loan at Birmingham University is not as tough for Leman as conditions in Russia seem to be for Khorina. Last year, the successor to Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci as world No1 opted to pose nude for the Russian edition of Playboy magazine just so that she could make ends meet - in a financial, rather than her usual, double-jointed gymnastic, sense.

Britain's first medal of the Games was won late on Sunday by the women's 4x200 metres freestyle relay team of Catrin Davies, Alex Bennett, Sarah Whewell and Janine Belton. In a race won by the United States from Italy, Britain took bronze after recording 8min 19.52sec.