the 28-year-old Li denied a late comeback

by Maria Spiliopoulou

ATHENS cheap nike air vapormax flyknit , Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- On the eve of Sunday's Athens 33rd Authentic Marathon, organizers and humanitarian organizations called on Greeks and foreign runners and spectators to seize the opportunity to show their solidarity with the thousands of refugees who keep reaching Greece to escape war zones.

Since 2009 the Athens Marathon has launched a Charity and Social Liability Program that allows involved charities to use the sports event as a means to promoting their scopes and collect money. This year the refugee crisis holds a leading role.

The Doctors Without Borders will participate in all races attempting to cover as many kilometers as possible to gather funds for those in need. "We are running here for a doctor over there," is the main slogan of their participation this year.

They urge citizens to join them in the race to provide medical aid to refugees arriving in the Aegean Sea islands by making donations on their website marathon.msf.gr.

For each euro donated the donor will take one footstep along the original 42 km route from Marathon to the 1896 Olympic Stadium in the heart of Athens in virtual reality. Each step made will be converted into support for the refugees.

In previous years cheap nike air max 97 , Doctors Without Borders have collected more than 50,000 euros.

In addition, on an initiative of the Greek Athletics Federation (SEGAS) that organizes the Marathon nike air max 97 ireland , all isothermal blankets used by runners at the end of the race will be delivered in coming weeks to refugees on Lesvos. The island has received the bulk of the 600,000 refugees flows since the start of this year.

Runners and spectators are also urged to donate, as in the past year cheap nike air max tn , shoes and clothing for the refugees and other people in need.

A record number of 43,000 runners will participate in this year's Athens Marathon and the shorter 10 and 5 km races, up from 35 nike air max tn ireland ,000 participations in 2014.

About 16,000 runners will run the classic 42 km Marathon race the legendary Athenian soldier Pheidippides run 25 centuries ago from the Marathon battlefield to Athens to announce Greeks' victory over the Persian forces.

About 16,000 foreign nationals -- among them around 350 Chinese -- will take part in all races nike air max zero ireland , an increase of 35 percent compared to last year, according to SEGAS President Kostas Panagopoulos.

Each one of them has at least one relative or friend to support and cheer himher along the way, according to estimates from previous years.

Another 100 nike air max classic bw ireland ,000-200,000 spectators are expected to be following the event along the route and at the finish line inside the Panathinaikon marble stadium where the first modern Olympics were hosted.

Last year the Athens Authentic Marathon raised approximately 500,000 euros which were donated for good causes. This year organizers hope to break this record.

Addressing a press briefing ahead of the event this week cheap nike air max 1 ireland , Greece's Deputy Sports Minister Stavros Kontonis praised organizers for the humanitarian profile of the Athens Marathon.

"This series of initiatives show that despite the economic difficulties Greece faces in recent years, Greek people are always willing to help. SEGAS' sensitivity to the refugee crisis honors all of us, because it shows the best image of Greece cheap nike air max 1 ," he said.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Defending champion Li Xiaoxia went one step closer to make history as the third seed here made short work of Ai Fukuhara on Wednesday morning to book a place in the Rio Olympic table tennis women' s singles final.

There' s no paddler in the sport' s 28-year history as one of the Olympic Games program to have won back-to-back individual championship.

"Ai and I are good friends off court," said Li. "I knew she' s playing very well these two days, so I had prepared to play a full-set semifinal. There' re just six or seven days left in my last Olympic Games and I want to enjoy it thoroughly."

Li beat Fukuhara in straight sets, 11-4, 11-3, 11-1, 11-1.

"My performance was not bad, but Xiaoxia' s better," commented Fukuhara, who' s made her name well known by the world since more than a decade ago.

Leading 9-1 into the first set, the 28-year-old Li denied a late comeback from the sixth-seeded Japanese to win 11-4, before improving it to 2-0 on sets.

Kong Linghui, head coach of the Chinese women' s table tennis team as well as a Grand Slam winner himself, called a timeout for Li when she Led 2-0 and 4-1 in the third set, before the women' s Slam winner came back to the court and just let her opponent win a single point.

"Xiaoxia was the defending champion here and a winner of Grand Slam of table tennis. And I saw her going all out for the game against me and thought that I should do that too and pull nothing back," said Fukuhara.

To the 27-year-old, who upset Singapore' s No. 2 seed Feng Tianwei 4-0 in the quarters, a place in the semifinals has been her best result so far in an Olympic Games as her best result in the previous three Olympic Games was reaching the quarterfinals in London.

"I was under pressure but Xiaoxia, as the defending champion and a member of the Chinese team, was even more pressured," she said. "I have nothing to lose. I really do."

Failing to make the final though the all-time dominating Chinese, Fukuhara kept her nation's hope for a women's singles medal alive after Japan's top female paddler Kasumi Ishikawa crashed out in her opening match against DPR Korea's defender Kim Song I in Sunday's third round.

Later on Wednesday morning, Kim was picked up by twice world champion Ding Ning in the other semifinal with the winner between them going to the final and the other one playing earlier in the evening in the third-place play-off.

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