We knew it wasn’t going to be easy: Bishop

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia is still determined to send unarmed police to the MH17 crash site despite Ukrainian forces mounting a fresh offensive in the rebel-controlled area.

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Eleven Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers on Sunday abandoned a planned site visit with a 38-strong Dutch team due to heavy shelling in eastern Ukraine.

“I would have rathered the mission went ahead today but the fighting had intensified so the correct decision was taken not to go in,” Ms Bishop told AAP in Amsterdam.

“It sets us back a day but we are determined to fulfil the promise that we made that we would bring our people (victims) home.”

Ms Bishop was speaking at Schiphol airport before flying to Kiev with her Dutch counterpart Frans Timmermans.

Asked if she was concerned about Ukraine’s military action, Ms Bishop said: “We always knew there was a conflict between the Ukrainian military and the separatists.”

“We had hoped that there would be an exclusion zone,” she said.

“But it appears that fighting has in fact taken place within the exclusion and around Donetsk today. It’s a very fluid situation.”

The Australian and Dutch team remains in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk and on Monday will again attempt to travel to the crash site 60km away.

Canberra is relying on the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to negotiate access with the separatists.

Ms Bishop spoke with OSCE chairman and Swiss president Didier Burkhalter on Sunday.

Australia’s special envoy to Ukraine, retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, is in touch with senior Ukrainian officials in Kiev.

The foreign minister said whether AFP officers travelled to the site was “a day by day proposition”.

The contingent on the ground provides advice which is then considered by the national security committee.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy but we are being very careful to balance the fact of the conflict with our need to get onto the site to carry out this humanitarian task of recovering bodies and remains,” Ms Bishop said.

Canberra believes Sunday’s fighting underlines the need for the Ukrainian parliament to ratify a deal that would allow Australia to send in a small number of armed police and soldiers.

The foreign minister has signed an in-principal agreement with her Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin.

Getting it finalised, however, has been complicated by the collapse of the ruling coalition and the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

“We will work very hard to have it ratified as soon as possible,” Ms Bishop said on Sunday.

“(But) there may be a number of reasons why, logistically, the parliament can’t be returned earlier (than Thursday as is currently scheduled).”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Sunday said an international military mission to secure the MH17 crash site was “unrealistic”.

“We concluded with our international partners that there’s a real risk of such an international military mission becoming directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine,” Mr Rutte told reporters in The Hague.

The conflict “would then acquire an international dimension that would lead to further escalation”.

There are presently 170 unarmed AFP officers in Ukraine in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Kiev.

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Australia hog pool podium with 10 medals

Magnussen edged out compatriots Cameron McEvoy and Tommaso D’Orsogna with an impressive swim of 48.

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11 seconds.

Australians claimed 10 medals in a one-sided session that landed them four golds, four silvers and two bronze medals to take their haul so far to a table-topping 38.

The 23-year-old Magnussen, who won a silver and bronze at the London 2012 Olympics, now has two Glasgow golds, having won the 4x100m freestyle relay on Friday.

“For me, it was a two-man race,” Magnussen told reporters.

“The plan was to sit next to Cam (McEvoy) and switch it up when I needed to. I felt like I took a lot of pressure off myself and I was able to enjoy it.”

It was the first time that an Australian has won the event since five-times Olympic champion Ian Thorpe in 2002 in Manchester. The country have now won this race nine of the 12 times it has been contested at the Games.

The Aussie gold rush started with Belinda Hocking storming to victory in the 200m backstroke in a Games record 2:07.24.

“It feels awesome. I am really happy. I was so nervous but I had some confidence from last night (she won bronze in the women’s 100m backstroke),” Hocking said.

Even when an Australian could not win they ensured there was still green and gold on the podium.

Alicia Coutts snatched silver from home favourite Hannah Miley as they were left in the wake of England’s Siobhan O’Connor who swam a Games record in the 200m individual medley.

Ben Treffers and Mitch Larkin secured an Australian one-two in the 50m backstroke with England’s Liam Tancock third.

England’s Fran Halsall defended her 50m butterfly title with a new Games and British record of 25:20.

The evening’s action concluded with an emphatic Australian performance to win a thrilling 4x200m freestyle relay, edging out Scotland and South Africa..

(Reporting by Sam Holden; editing by martyn herman)

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Ndiku takes 5000m title

With Mo Farah missing from the Commonwealth Games, Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku was so confident of winning the 5000m, he dyed his hair gold.

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His confidence was well placed, as he backed up his flamboyance with a strong win on the opening day of athletics at the Games.

The world indoor 3000m champion took his chance in the absence of Olympic champion Farah who withdrew from the Games last week due to illness and led a predictable Kenyan one-two at Hampden Park, with Isiah Koech taking silver.

Out of nine medals on offer on the opening day of athletics, all in distance events, Kenya claimed five.

Flomena Daniel won the women’s marathon in another Kenyan double, with Caroline Kilel coming second, but Australia’s Michael Shelley denied the Africans a Sunday sweep.

Shelley took a surprise marathon gold in a time of two hours 11 minutes and 15 seconds, ahead of Kenyan Stephen Chemlany and Uganda’s Abraham Kiplimo.

He was one of eight Australian gold medallists on day four of competition, lifting their country clear of England on top the medals table with 26 gold in a total of 73.

England has 23 gold and 57 medals in all, while host nation Scotland went without a gold on Sunday to remain in third place with 11 golds.

While Kenya are expected to dominate the distance events at the athletics, the sprints will be a different story, even without six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt who’s only running the 4x100m relay.

Bolt’s world championship winning relay teammate Nickel Ashmeade clocked 10.40 seconds to win his 100m heat on Sunday, while England’s Adam Gemili was the fastest qualifier in 10.15.

In the women’s 100m heats, Nigerian Blessing Okagbare headed the qualifying times with 11.20, while Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown won her heat in 11.29.

Australia finished the track cycling program as the dominant nation on seven gold medals, with Stephanie Morton beating her teammate and defending champion Anna Meares in the women’s sprint final.

Laura Trott of England overcame a kidney infection to win the women’s 25km points race, while New Zealand’s Shane Archbold won his country’s fourth cycling gold, taking out the 20km scratch race.

Australia has also been dominant in the pool, claiming the trifecta in the men’s 100m freestyle on Sunday, led by James Magnussen, while England’s Fran Halsall won her second gold for the Games when she added the 50m butterfly to her 50m freestyle title.

But New Zealand’s dominance of rugby sevens was brought to an end by South Africa with a 17-12 win in the final at Ibrox.

New Zealand have won every sevens gold since the sport was introduced to the Games in 1998, but after taking the lead with an early try, were run over by the South Africans who won their country’s fifth gold of the Games.

New Zealand captain DJ Forbes acknowledged the end of an era.

“We are part of the legacy that has gone before us – we’d never been beaten,” Forbes said.

“As a country we have a lot of chances to win medals but as a New Zealand rugby player it is disappointing to come second.”

South Africa also won gold in the women’s lawn bowls four, defeating Malaysia in the final.

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Emirates airline says will not fly over Iraq after MH17

Emirates will stop flying over Iraq due to concerns over jihadist missile attacks following the MH17 air disaster in Ukraine, the airline’s president Tim Clark told The Times on Monday.

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Almost 300 people aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 died when it came down in eastern Ukraine nearly two weeks ago, with Washington and Europe claiming it was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Moscow militants.

“This is a political animal but… the fact of the matter is MH17 changed everything, and that was very nearly in European airspace,” Clark told The Times in an interview published on Monday.

“We cannot continue to say, ‘Well it’s a political thing’. We have to do something. We have to take the bull by the horns,” added the British president of the Dubai-based carrier.

Clark predicted other carriers would also decide to stop flying over Iraq, as the global airline industry reviews the risk of overflying combat zones.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, a Boeing 777 aircraft, was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people aboard on July 17 when it was downed close to the village of Grabove, in the rebellion-wracked region of Donetsk in east Ukraine.

“The horrors that this created was a kick in the solar plexus for all of us,” Clark told the daily paper.

“Nevertheless having got through it we must take stock and deal with it.”

On Sunday meanwhile, the commercial director of Malaysia Airlines called for a complete overhaul of the way flight paths are deemed safe following the plane’s downing by a suspected missile.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Hugh Dunleavy said the disaster would have “an unprecedented impact on the aviation industry”, claiming that airlines can no longer depend on aviation authorities for reliable information about flying over conflict zones.

“For too long, airlines have been shouldering the responsibility for making decisions about what constitutes a safe flight path, over areas in political turmoil around the world,” he wrote.

“We are not intelligence agencies, but airlines, charged with carrying passengers in comfort between destinations.”

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Magnussen claims gold and revenge

Magnussen’s still the king and the queen’s been deposed, but she’s not going anywhere.

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James Magnussen reaffirmed himself as Australia’s fastest man in water and, while not quite redemption for his London Olympic failings – that opportunity will come in Rio in two years’ time – he’s on the way.

The world champion claimed gold in the 100m freestyle at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday, exacting revenge on teammate Cameron McEvoy and setting himself up for another crack at the Americans.

“I just wanted to get the win tonight. Reaffirm to myself I’ve still got it, still going good and now I can focus on doing the quickest race I can against the Americans at the Pan Pacs (next month),” he said.

Magnussen admitted his loss to McEvoy at the Australian trials in April had stung his pride.

“It did motivate me and I probably trained quite a bit harder between trials and here because of it,” Magnussen said.

But Anna Meares’ reign as the Commonwealth’s, and even Australia’s, fastest female cyclist is over after teammate Stephanie Morton beat her in the final of the women’s sprint.

Morton denied Meares a record sixth Commonwealth Games gold medal and then asked her training partner, mentor and friend to share top spot on the dais with her.

But it was no farewell gesture, with Meares emphatically putting an end to rumours she might retire at the Games and declaring she’s determined to defend her Olympic sprint gold medal in Rio in 2016.

“I am not done yet. Who said that?,” she said.

“I will definitely be going to Rio, that is my projection.”

Matthew Glaetzer then won the keirin to claim Australia’s seventh gold medal at the velodrome to finish as the Games’ top track cycling nation, also winning eight silver and five bronze from the 17 events.

Australia won eight gold on Sunday to pull clear of England at the top of the medals table with 26 gold in a total of 73.

England has 23 gold and 57 medals in all.

The day got off to a stunning start for Australia with Michael Shelley opening the athletics program with a shock win in the marathon, while Jess Trengove took bronze in the women’s event.

Melissa Breen cruised through to win her heat in the opening round of the 100m at Hampden Park and is in a strong position to earn a place in her first major final, while Jodi Elkington won the gold medal in the women’s para-sport long jump.

But it was in the pool where Australia’s expected dominance continued, winning four gold to bring their total to 15 out of the 28 golds so far with two days left of competition.

McEvoy backed up after the 100m to join David McKeon, Ned McKendry and Thomas Fraser-Holmes to win the 4x200m freestyle relay, while Belinda Hocking won the 200m backstroke and Ben Treffers took gold in the 50m backstroke.

Australia had to settle for bronze in sevens rugby as it fell yet again to New Zealand in the semis.

The Hockeyroos brushed Scotland aside 9-0 to take their goal tally for the Games to 22 in three games, while they haven’t been scored against.

And the netballers had a similarly massive win, thrashing Barbados 77-27.

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