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A Recap Of Olympic Action; Manila Begins Cleanup After Record Rains; Gu Kailai Trial Fiercely Guarded

Aired August 9, 2012 - 08:00   ET


ANNA COREN, HOST: Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet. Hello, I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong.

We begin in China where the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai went on trial for murder.

We go inside Aleppo, once Syria's glittering commercial capital now a war zone.

And we continue our series on gaming culture in South Korea as we follow a professional gamer in action.

Well, security was tight and media access heavily restricted, but that did little to deflect attention from one of China's biggest scandals in recent memory. Well, Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai went on trial over the murder of a British businessman, but after only one day proceedings have already been adjourned. And a court official says a verdict will be delivered at a later date. Well, that official say no objections were made in court to the prosecutions charges.

Well, the case dates back to events in November last year. Well, that was when British businessman Neil Haywood was found dead in a hotel room in Chongqing, the city where Bo Xilai was party chief.

Well, Haywood's death was initially described as alcohol poisoning, but in February this man Wang Lijun fled to the U.S. consulate in Changdu. He was Chonqing's police chief and reportedly gave information about Haywood's death to U.S. officials. Well, Bo Xilai attended China's National People's Congress meeting in March, but soon after state media reported he had been stripped of his post for alleged violations of party discipline.

In April, Chinese state media said Gu Kailai and family employee Zhang Xiaojun had been transferred to judicial authorities over suspected homicide. Well, on July 26 its reported the pair had been charged.

Well, let's get the very latest on what happened today. And Steve Jiang is in Hefei, the city where the trial is taking place. And Steve, this trial basically over in seven hours, but no verdict, no sentence.

STEVE JIANG, CNN PRODUCER: That's right, Anna, one of China's most anticipated trial in recent memory has ended quickly with a rather anti- climatic statement by a senior court official. Besides what you have just mentioned, this court official briefed us not long ago in a room behind me adding a bit more details on the case as well as what happened behind closed doors in that courtroom.

He said Gu's lawyers has asked for leniency, because she was acting under diminished capacity while she was committing the crime. Also, she cooperated -- she had very close cooperation with police during the investigation phase. Also he said Gu Kailai, you know, as we mentioned had no objection over the fact of the crime she was allegedly committed as well as the charges she is face. But the official also made a point that Gu looked physically healthy and emotionally stable during the trial.

So although the authorities are still keeping quiet about when they'll be announcing that verdict, few expect the verdict will be surprising, because remember, Anna, this is a country where the conviction rate is almost 100 percent. So it's all but certain the Gu Kailai will be convicted of murder, although family, friends have been telling us her life will be spared -- Anna.

COREN: Yeah, Steve as you say it is more than likely she will be found guilty. And a court official has said the criminal facts are clear, the evidence is solid. So when is it likely we will hear that verdict, we'll hear that sentence?

JIANG: We simply don't know. It could be weeks from now from what we heard from sources.

But what's interesting today as I cover this trial is in the morning actually, despite heavy rain, there are some very loyal supporters of Gu Kailai and Bo Xilai showed up near the court singing the national anthem and voicing their support for this couple. One of them I was managed -- I was able to talk to, and he told me Bo and Gu were both set up by their political enemies and he thinks Bo is the kind of leader China needs. And history will vindicate both him and his wife.

And of course before he could finish, dozens of police, both uniformed and plain clothes, jumped on him, dragging him away as he was kicking and screaming, put him in a van, and drove him off in front of international media.

So this kind of dramatic moments really illustrate the reason why officials feel so jittery and sensitive about this case, because this case has revealed fissures within the normally secretive Chinese leadership and that's something they really don't want to see. They want to get this trial over with, they want to move on so they can focus their time, energy and resources on what they consider the most important thing on their calendar which of course is the once in a decade leadership transition later this year, Anna.

COREN: Steven, from the pictures that we've been showing our viewers, there's obviously a huge police presence outside this courthouse. We know that you were roughed up yourself by police officers while trying to interview a local resident. Tell us about the security.

JIANG: That's right. Yesterday actually when we arrived in Hefei the security around the courts -- around the courthouse was quite lax. We were actually able to get in trying to apply for a seat, actually, for the trial. But of course despite our best efforts we failed.

But then we went to downtown Hefei trying to gauge the local population's knowledge or interest in this case. Most people seemed to be unaware or didn't care about this at all. But finally we got to talk to this older gentleman who said he was following the case very closely and he has lived long enough to understand this kind of sensitivity. But just when he was ready to tell us what he thinks to policemen who had been listening in to our conversation, grabbed me and him trying to drag both of us away and into a nearby police station. So only after some really heated arguments I was able to basically escape unscathed, but still with some fresh bruise marks on one of my arms.

So that kind of episodes really showcases how sensitive authorities considered this case to be, Anna.

COREN: Yeah, it's fascinating also, Steven, to learn that there's a lack of interest or a lack of coverage in China what really is the biggest trial of a generation taking place in China.

Steven Jiang joining us from Hefei, we appreciate the update.

Well, let's now get a wider look at the judicial system in China. Well, Jerome Cohen is a law professor at New York University and co- director of its U.S.-Asia Law Institute. He joins us now from New York.

Jerome, great to have you with us.

This, of course, is the highest profile trial in China since the gang of four back in 1980 when Mao's widow was on trial. And even though that was a trial that lasted some six weeks. Gu Kailai's trial lasted seven hours.

What, if any changes, have we seen in the Chinese legal system in the past 30 years?

JEROME COHEN, NYU: Well, there have been enormous changes, very great improvement in formal aspects. Now you have codes of law, you have legal institutions, hundreds of thousands of judges, prosecutors, lawyers, a lot more experience than they had before. But in the end, one has to ask what has changed fundamentally with respect to criminal justice?

The gang of four trial over 30 years ago was highly publicized. I was in China at the time. I watched it on television. I saw the defendant being questioned by the court, Chairman Mao's widow. Here we see nothing. It's a very carefully staged, supposedly public trial, but it isn't public at all, it's just carefully organized and highly limited in who can attend.

And even the principle witnesses seem to have appeared. The only one we know appeared was an expert who probably testified about the technical aspects of the cyanide poison that was allegedly used. But no other witnesses apparently appeared. Defense lawyers couldn't cross examine any of them, of course, since they didn't appear. And the defense apparently simply pleaded for a reduced sentence.

It's interesting...

COREN: If I can just interrupt, because the government would have its people believe that this trial will strengthen the confidence in the legal system because it would prove that nobody is above the law, but as you mentioned, you know, Gu wasn't even allowed to appoint her own lawyer, and the lawyer that was appointed to -- for her from the state seemed to have little experience, if any, in criminal law.

Do you think the people in China really buy this as a fair system?

COHEN: They're give a limited version of the facts so it's hard for them to make any judgment at all. And if the whole matter is being handled according to law, what about her husband? What was his role? And what about Wang Lijun, his police chief? Tomorrow, four of his police assistants will be put on trial for allegedly covering up Ms. Gu's offense, refusing to investigate her case. But what about their boss, Wang Lijun, he's held in custody possibly on treason charges and nothing is said about him.

So, there are many...

COREN: Jerome, you mentioned Bo Xilai, and he remains in custody and still hasn't been charged or seen or heard from. What do you believe will happen to him?

COHEN: Well, we don't know. It may depend on the outcome of the trial. It may depend on her cooperation on a continuing basis with this. He was allegedly heavily involved with corruption. But we don't know whether he was involved in this murder, whether he authorized it, and knew about it in advance, or whether he didn't know about it, but helped to cover it up. Why did these policemen take the responsibility of refusing to investigate his wife's case? Who told them not to do that. They wouldn't have done that on their own.

COREN: Jerome, the government obviously wants the people of China to focus on this as a murder trial and not the political issues, really, that this case brings to light. Do you think that is possible? Do you think that they can keep it quiet, keep it buried until the political transition takes place later in the year?

COHEN: Well, unless there is some kind of investigation reported to the public I think the Chinese people who are highly sophisticated and now have the internet and social media, they will remain very, very suspicious of what's going on.

They are very clever at interpreting events. And sometimes because they're so reliant on rumors rather than facts, they can spawn some very sophisticated conspiracy theories, many of which are wrong. I think it would be in the interest of the government and the Communist Party to come clean with the people. We don't know when and whether they'll ever tell the people what Bo Xilai's involvements in this case and other matters were. We just don't know. It's up to the leaders.

But I would urge them to be as open as possible instead of merely pretending to be open.

COREN: Professor Jerome Cohen, a fascinating insight. We appreciate you shedding light on a story, on an issue that really has transfixed the world. Thank you for joining us from New York.

Well, fighting for control, Aleppo remains a key battlefield in the Syrian civil war. Many people have fled and some are still trying to escape. We will take you inside the besieged city.

Also, how the Philippine capital Manila is coping with non-stop rain and deadly flooding.

And what does it take to be the best? A close up look at the unusual gaming culture in South Korea. It's the latest in our special series, that's coming up on News Stream.


COREN: Well, in Syria the battle continues for the country's biggest prize next to its capital. Well, Syrian troops and rebels are fighting for control of the northern city of Aleppo. Opposition activists say heavy shelling rocked parts of Aleppo and its suburbs again on Thursday. Well, the U.S. meanwhile says all options remain on the table to help the Syrian opposition, including possibly implementing a no-fly zone.

Well, just weeks ago Aleppo was Syria's bustling commercial center and home to 2.5 million people. Well, now entire neighborhoods are in ruins. Well, many people have fled. And those who haven't been able to get out are trying to survive any way they can.

Well, senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman takes us inside Aleppo.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Muafak (ph) has retrieved what he could from the ruins of his home. In what's left of Aleppo's Salahadin (ph) neighborhood there's little time to pounder one's loss.

"The situation is terrible," Muafak (ph) tells me, "we're taking everything we can. We don't know where we'll go. We've lost everything so we're leaving."

His family of seven is just one of thousands of families who have fled Salahadin (ph) now one of the main battlefields between government forces and the rebels.

17 year old Hamza has been fighting here for the last two weeks. He says several of his comrades were killed by Syrian army snipers earlier in the day.

These lightly armed fighters have managed to hold off the army. Their most potent weapon is not in their enemies arsenal, says this elderly fighter who identifies himself simply as Alexander.

ALEXANDER, REBEL FIGHTER: We believe in god. And this Kalashnikov, old Kalashnikov. We can fight with them, and we will win, because we have faith. We have faith. We believe in god. They don't believe in god. If they believe in god, he don't bomb his people.

WEDEMAN: The death and destruction is not restricted to the front lines. Government jets regularly bomb targets around the city. The rebels fire back with their light machine guns.

The rebel held district of Sukari (ph), further removed from the fighting, provides its inhabitants with the illusion of normality. A few shops and street vendors are at work. But prices are up. A kilo of tomatoes costs four times what it did a month ago. And that's if you have the money to buy it. There's little work to be had as the city turns into a battleground.

Tamir (ph), the baker, is preparing date-filled cakes for the breaking of the Ramadan fast. He says he's too busy to worry about the fighting.

It's an odd feeling here in the parts of Aleppo occupied by the Free Syrian Army. People are out, they're buying vegetables, the bakeries are working, but all the while occasionally you hear blasts like that as the area comes under bombardment.

Lueh (ph) shows me his son, Moustafa (ph), born 10 days ago to the sound of fighting.

"He cries and is terrified during the bombing," says Lueh (ph).

The bombardment appears to be random. I was told this house was hit in an air raid two days before, killing two of its inhabitants. There are no rebel positions in the area.

Cut off from the rest of the city, Sukari (ph) residents have turned a public park into a temporary graveyard.

Abu Hamoud (ph), a fighter, explains that the latest grave contains three bodies no one could identify because they were so severely mutilated.

The shelling goes through the night. The explosions and the uncertainty about where the next round will fall makes sleep difficult.

Earlier in the morning, around 100 residents of Sukari (ph) line up for bread. This is the only bakery that makes bread in the area. Bread has become the main staple here. Each family member is allowed one flat loaf a day sold at a symbolic price. The flour is provided either by the Free Syrian Army or wealthy benefactors.

Even if more food was available, cooking is a problem. This part of Aleppo has run out of cooking gas.

Umadnan (ph) explain she cooks for her extended family of 16 on firewood she collects in park and in the street.

And for the children, there's a sense of bewilderment as war turns their lives upside down.

"We're confused," says 11 year old Nahla (ph). "We feel they want to attack us. We left this area before, then we came back. Now we want to leave again, but we can't."

With an all-out Syrian government offensive looming over the city, Nahla (ph) and others like her can do little but wait and hope the next bomb falls far, far away.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Aleppo, Syria.


COREN: Well, Syria has a new prime minister. Syria state television is reporting that President Bashar al-Assad has appointed health minister Wael al-Halki as the country's new premier. He replaces Riyad Hijab who fled to Jordan earlier this week.

Well, let's turn our attention now to Egypt where new clashes are breaking out in the volatile North Sinai region. Egyptian state television reports police fought with gunmen in the port city of el-Arish earlier on Thursday. Egyptian military bulldozers and cranes have also arrived in the area to seal tunnels connecting Egypt with Gaza. Security forces are cracking down on Islamist militants after a series of attacks on military checkpoints in recent days.

Well, the cleanup slowly begins in the Philippine capital Manila from widespread flooding. The scale of the devastation is huge and the rain continues to hamper recovery efforts. That's coming up after the break.


COREN: Well, much of the Philippine capital, Manila remains underwater after days of heavy rain. The flooding has affected nearly two million people. And as Alex Zolbert finds out, the cleanup is only just begun.


ALEX ZOLBERT, CNN PRODUCER: Now that the rain has finally backed off, the cleanup is underway in Manila.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday, it's up here.

ZOLBERT: Rio Vargas's (ph) home is just a stone's throw from a bridge over the Marikina River.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, just cleaning, clear some mess, you know, some mud inside the house.

ZOLBERT: He and his family were able to take refuge in the second story of their house. Others weren't so lucky. This man tells us with his home flooded he slept in this Jeepni (ph) or minibus for the past two nights. He wasn't alone.

24 hours ago here in Marikina City flood waters were up around two meters, that's higher than my head. But now the sun is out, the rain has finally stopped, and that's giving these people a chance to go through and assess the damage and get the water out of their homes. But as you can see in front of me here, there's still plenty of work to be done.

In another flooded part of Manila we caught up with President Aquino as he paid a visit to a temporary shelter.

What's your assessment of things today (inaudible)?

BENIGNO AQUINO, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: We had quite an inordinate amount of rainfall. One of the worst in recent memory was from a typhoon called (inaudible). I'm told that the volume of water that has dropped is even greater than that of -- experience of that. But I think we have managed to demonstrate that the government's disaster mitigation efforts are working.

ZOLBERT: But as the water retreats, many are quick to point out a better flood prevention system needs to be put in place, particularly in low lying areas. Others, though, are just glad the sun is finally shining and they can get on with their lives reclaiming what's left.

In Rio Vargas's words, it's cleanup today and back to work tomorrow.

Alex Zolbert, CNN, Manila.


COREN: Let's get more on the conditions in Manila with our meteorologist Jen Delgado. And Jen, does this mean the rain has stopped?

JEN DELGADO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know we are seeing the rain letting up, especially as we go through the next 48 hours. We might see a chance for an isolated shower, but really it's not going to be anything heavy.

Now as I show you some of the totals out there, keep in mind since Monday alone some locations have picked up nearly a meter of rainfall. Look at the totals out there. Nearly 1300 in Sangley Point. You can see for Quezon City 924. In the capital Manila 870 millimeters. And that's why we're seeing the video that we just showed you of widespread flooding across the region.

The bad part is Manila is really just kind of trapped in a very bad position with the lake to the left and the ocean to the right, certainly doesn't make much for way of drainage across that region. As I show you on the satellite you can still see some clouds around affecting parts of Luzon. Rain offshore, that's where we like to see it.

As we go through the next couple of days we're not expecting anything heavy. I want to point out to you anywhere we're seeing in blue as well as into green we're talking roughly maybe about 10 centimeters or rainfall, certainly a lot of people are displaced from their homes. We don't want to see any more rain coming down, but with the southwest monsoon being in effect we could still see a few isolated showers out there.

Another area that's recovering from very heavy rainfall. We're talking about the Zhejiang province as well as into parts of Shanghai. Look at the totals there, 257, a lot less than what we saw in the Philippines, but let me show you some of the damage left behind through parts of China.

Look at the brushing water there. This is moisture that is left over from the typhoon that made landfall on China's Zhejiang province on Wednesday. And of course that one is Haikui. And now you're looking at the effects: roadways are flooded, residents had to be evacuated from their homes. As I take you over to our satellite.

Here is the system now. Still looking at the remnants. That is still affecting parts of the Zhejiang province, Jiangxi as well as Ubei (ph) and Anhui. As we go through the 48 hours you can kind of see for yourself where the heaviest rainfall is going to be. Look at Nanchang, they're going to be dealing with some heavy rainfall, so certainly this is going to lead to more flooding problems across that area.

I also want to update you on a storm that we have in the Atlantic. You can see for yourself I should say in the Caribbean. It's getting ready to make a second landfall. This is tropical storm Ernesto. The winds right now 111 kilometers. It's going to make landfall in about the next hour or two. And it looks like, Anna, it's going to bring roughly about 25 centimeters of rainfall to the Vera Cruz state as we go through the next 48 hours.

A lot of activity out there. We'll see back over to you.

COREN: Certainly is. Keeping you busy too. All right, Jen, good to see you. Thank you for that.

Coming up on News Stream, the U.S. Fab Five reaped gold at the Olympics team gymnastics competition. And they're not the only women athletes making a memorable mark at the games.

Plus, meet the pro-gamer who is so good he goes by the name MVP. He tells us the secret of his success.


COREN: Welcome back. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. These are your world headlines.

In China, the murder trial of Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced Communist Party official Bo Xilai has been adjourned. Well, Gu and a family aid are accused of poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood to death. A verdict is expected at a later unspecified date.

Well, Syria President Bashar al-Assad has appointed health minister Wael al-Halki as the country's new prime minister. That is according to Syria state television. Meanwhile the battle for Syria's commercial hub of Aleppo rages on. The rebels say they now have pulled back from the front line in Aleppo's flashpoint Salahadin (ph) district for tactical reasons. Well, this as the opposition says parts of Aleppo have come under heavy shelling again on Thursday.

Flood waters are finally receding in the Philippines after days of torrential downpour that have killed at least 19 people. That massive cleanup is underway in the capital Manila. Around 2 million people have been affected with hundreds of thousands taking refuge in emergency shelters.

And Madonna is expected to show support for gay rights when she performs later Thursday in Russia's second largest city. Well, the pop star has spoken out against legislation in St. Petersburg banning the promotion of homosexuality in public. Madonna has already used the Moscow leg of her tour to support a female punk band that protested against President Vladimir Putin. The U.S. embassy in Moscow says Russian authorities are stepping up security after a threat of violence at Madonna's concerts in Russia.

Well, it's day 13 of the London games. And it's another action packed day of competition. 23 gold medals are up for grabs. Well, sprint sensation Usain Bolt once again takes center stage when he goes for gold in the 200 meter final. For more, let's bring in Zain Verjee who joins us now from Olympic Park. Hello, Zain.


Prepared to be dazzled today, because today is the Bolt show. Usain Bolt running the 200 meter final in just a few hours, Anna, in the stadium behind me. What he wants to do is to break his own world record, which is 19.19 seconds. He says that the 200 meters is actually his favorite race.

Now yesterday he was quoted saying this, "I am never going to say I am the greatest until I have won the 200 meters." And then he went on to add, too, "there are a lot of people that could spoil the party." Well, actually I think there's one person that could spoil the party and that is Jamaican, his countryman, Yohan Blake who also said about the semifinal when he ran it that this was just a walk in the park.

So really the showdown, Anna, is set between these two men. And if Bolt wins he would be the first man ever to win two consecutive golds in two Olympics in the 200 meters. No one has ever done that before.

And by the way, I was looking at an article that was talking about the 100 meter final that he ran and apparently there was a tape analysis that was done, Anna, that showed how many seconds his feet were actually physically on Earth, on the ground, and it totaled up to two seconds.


Zain, I know it's been a bit of a confusing hour for Oscar Pistorius, the first double amputee ever to compete in Olympic track event. I believe that he is back in the relay. Can you confirm this?

VERJEE: We're trying to figure out exactly what's going on and how this has happened. But just let me tell you over the last few hours what we've been tracking. Oscar Pistorius from South Africa was supposed to run the men's 4x400 relay. He would have made history if he did that. Now one of his countrymen was coming around the bend and apparently there was some situation where he clashed with another runner on the track that seems to be someone from the Kenyan team. And the South African runner fell to the ground with an injury. And what that meant is that he wasn't able to pass the baton to Oscar Pistorius like -- and everybody else just continued running.

And Pistorius just put his hands on his head. He sank to his knees. And he said this afterwards. He said it's so hard, especially with the crowd be so amazing and there being so much support back home.

And then just a short while ago when it seemed as though he was out and this was such a tragedy. He himself tweets on his account, this, "it's on. We are in the final. Team management protested as offense," that was the South African athlete who fell was taken out, "and we have been given lane nine." And then he mentioned someone who is supposed to take the injured player's place. And then he goes on to say that this is all just an emotional roller coaster.

So judging from this tweet only, we understand that he's back in, but we're trying to get official confirmation and find out from all sides what happened.

COREN: Well, fingers crossed. It would be great to see him run again.

All right, Zain Verjee, I know you are enjoying all the action at Olympic Park. I'll let you get back to it.

All right. Take care.

Well, it would be fair to say that the London games will be remembered as a historic occasion for women's sports. For the first time ever every delegation sent female athletes to the summer Olympics.

Our Pedro Pinto has much more from London. Pedro, this is -- can only be good news, can't it?

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It is. And we could say these have been the girl power Olympics. Later today, the finals of the first ever women's boxing competition at the summer games will take place. The ExCel Center has been packed for practically every round so far. And the atmosphere will be buzzing later as home favorite Nicola Adams goes for gold in the fly weight division. The 29 year old from Leeds will face Ren Cancan of China. The bout starts in three hours time.

Overall, these are a pioneering Olympics for women. It's the first time every national team includes a woman. The U.S. team even had more women than men here in London. But it's the three Islamic nations that sent women for the first time that should be singled out. That's Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They have never had any women represent them in an Olympics before.

On Wednesday, Sarah Attar made history by becoming the first Saudi woman to participate in an Olympics athletics competition. The 19 year old ran one of the heats in the 800 meters. And although she finished over 40 seconds off the pace, she still received a standing ovation from 80,000 fans who packed into the Olympics stadium. Attar, who lives and studies in the United States told CNN's Becky Anderson about her experience.


SARAH ATTAR, 800 METER RUNNER: The whole time I was running around, just as I came around every curve, there were people roaring, cheering for me. And it was what really pulled me along. And it was the most incredible feeling to have that many people supporting you and to know that that many people are, you know, behind me in what I'm doing and what to support me and push me forward it was so motivating.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: The first female Saudi athlete ever in track and field, this is quite an historic occasion. Do you feel the weight of history on your shoulders?

ATTAR: You know it's starting -- after I'm seeing the news buzz after my race, I'm starting to realize it. But I don't think it's really hit me as I -- you know, just coming here I knew that this was going to be a huge thing.

ANDERSON: And how important is it to you that as a Saudi you are able to compete as a woman?

ATTAR: It was such a huge honor to be asked to come and that we were allowed to participate this year. And I just think that it can be something amazing for the women in Saudi Arabia. And that we can really, you know, push though and...

ANDERSON: More than symbolic, because there are those who say this is just a nod and a wink and what happens next is perhaps more important.

ATTAR: Well, I think regardless it -- everything needs that first initial step. And with that first step, then things can follow. So just that we were allowed to come is a huge first step.

ANDERSON: So what is your message to the girls back home?

ATTAR: I say to go for it and get involved and live your dreams, and you know, just don't let anyone hold you back.


PINTO: Attar was one of two women who represented Saudi Arabia. There was another in the judo competition. For both of them it was more about the principle than the performance.

But the opposite can be said when discussing Great Britain's Jessica Ennis who was expected to win the women's heptathlon. She spoke with my colleague Alex Thomas about the kind of pressure she had on her shoulders.


JESSICA ENNIS, HEPTATHLON GOLD MEDALIST: It was a lot of pressure, definitely. I was really aware of it, because I don't think there was any way I couldn't to be honest. It was -- you know, people just really expected me to win and to do well. And it was still a great position to be in, though, because I had not experienced, you know, anything like that before and missing the last Olympics I wasn't a part of that at all.

So all the way along I just kept thinking, you know, I'd rather be in this position then home injured like that last time. So I just kind of tried to use all that pressure and turn it into positiveness and support.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Do you feel like you were under pressure to be a celebrity as well as a great athlete who would go on and win gold at these games?

ENNIS: Not so much a celebrity, just -- I just felt pressured that people just you know really want me to win that gold medal. And it was just important for me to just remain focused. And I knew how hard it was going to be. And, you know, it's not just one day, it's two days of really tough competition. And I knew that I just had to really just keep my eye on the ball and not get distracted by what other people kind of expected of me.


PINTO: She was able to live up to the expectations, grab gold and to help Team GB to their best performance overall in an Olympics since 1908, Anna. It's been a fantastic performance for them overall. 22 gold medals so far.

COREN: It is fantastic. Pedro, because this is a girl's games -- it's the girl's games as you mentioned a little bit earlier is that why Zain is at Olympic Park and you're in a studio?

PINTO: I guess we'll use that excuse, yeah, but I'm not happy about it. Girl power, that's fine. But let's rotate it a little bit.


COREN: OK. You guys will have to take that up. All right. Catch you later, Pedro. Good to see you. Thank you.

Well, Olympic athletes are not the only ones with trainers, strict diets, and intense workout schedules. It's also a way of life for many professional video gamers who eat, sleep, and practice with their teammates all with the hope of winning glory.


COREN: Well, all this week we've been looking at the gaming culture in South Korea in our series Gaming Reality. Yesterday we told you about a pro-gamer trying to make it big, but what does it feel like to be at the very top? Well, meet the player known simply as MVP. And as you will see he clearly lives up to that moniker.


MVP, PRO-GAMER: Hello, I am programmer Jung Jong-hyun. Let me show you where I live and practice. There are 13 to 14 people who practice here. As you can see, they are all working hard. Our bedroom is this way.

NICK PLOTT, FORMER PRO-GAMER: The advantage that the Koreans have over other non-Korean teams is they get to actually stay together inside of a pro-gamer training house you're going to have a few rooms with bunk beds, you're going to have a kitchen. Sometimes they have cooks. And you're going to have generally one to two big rooms that are just full of computers where they're all grinding out games and discussing strategies. It gives them a huge edge.

MVP: I can remember when I first saw Starcraft I. I'd never seen any real-time strategy games before and I fell in love with this game.

SUNHYE YUN, MVP'S MOTHER: Most mothers don't like their children to work in gaming. But it went smoothly in our house.

He was really sick when he was really young. And because of that, his speech was delayed. That's why we didn't disapprove of gaming. But we didn't expect him to be this good.

PLOTT: In Starcraft II, MVP is hands down the best player. He is a genius. He trains really hard. And he has had the most success of any other player that we've seen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Success he's worked for on and offline. MVP's coach, who was once a pro-gamer himself, keeps a strict hold on the team, monitoring their diet and exercise to optimize his players' performance.

KANG DONG-HOON, MVP'S COACH: Physical training is a must. You can't be successful just by practicing games. You can only win when you have both mental and physical health.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Soon, all of MVP's training will be tested. Today, he and his coach are traveling south to the World Cyber Games. Their trip only takes a few hours by high speed rail, but many are making long journeys across the globe gunning to beat MVP on his home turf.

The favorite to win it all, MVP dominates his opponents quickly, determining their strategy and striking with his own battle plans. In Starcraft, you've got to think fast and dominate the battlefield in this real-time war game.

MVP: I was playing a defensive style, so my opponent always attacks first. I am really good at defending against their attack. I think that's what makes me good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not just good, at this moment MVP is the best Korean gamer in Starcraft II. In the fourth and final round it comes down to two people. MVP will take on Shigua (ph) from China.

MVP: Because the stage is so big, there is a large audience. So I get nervous. But I get excited when I imagine all of the cheering after winning.


MVP: When I finished after winning, I feel happy and proud that I got a gold medal for Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: MVP won and secured the gold for Korea. But the celebration is fleeting, because another tournament is just days away.


COREN: Our gaming series continues tomorrow. We'll take a closer look at professional gaming and see whether it become a widely accepted sport. You can also see much more from this series on our website. Just go to

We'll have much more on the Olympic games straight ahead on News Stream. Now do you see crochet as an actual Olympic sport? How about power boating? Find out next.


COREN: Well, the London games is entering the home stretch and the race for the top spot on the medal table is certainly is heating up. China leads the medal count at the moment with 36 gold medals. The United States is in second place with 34 golds. Great Britain continues to have a stellar games holding on to the third spot with 22 golds followed by South Korea. And rounding out the leaders' pack are Russia and Germany.

But for some countries a successful games isn't only about the number of medals they take home, Josh Levs has been taking a look at some of the interactive ways to keep track of the lesser known sporting nations at the games. Josh, somebody needs to tells Australia it's not all about the medals.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. Australia will be happy see what I'm about to show, actually. Oh man, poor Australia. You've still got a little time left (inaudible).

I'll tell you what, I love this interactive because I'll tell you why, because the Olympics are the story of the world coming together. And we naturally gravitate toward looking at those countries that have a lot of medals, but there are dozens of countries out there that have gotten some medals. Take a look at this from our partners at Sports Illustrated. I love this medal tracker, because it allows you to click on any sport, any country, and see how countries are doing. And part of what I love is that it shows how many countries out there have gotten one medal. And now you have all these new national champions out there who are making their countries really happy for bringing home a piece of gold or silver or bronze.

Let's just take a look at a few of the example. Some people you might have heard of. One of them is out of Algeria. One medal right now. Taoufik Makhloufi who as you know got gold and track in the 1500 meters, the national champion there. Jump over to Grenada Kirani James, another really good example, there's someone where there was a lot of hopes in him, bringing home a piece of gold for his country.

Check out out of Venezuela. Check out this welcome home for Rubin Limardo Gaston who got gold in fencing. Huge welcome home there from his country.

See, a country can celebrate one medal. This is a great reality check to a lot of us looking for the big medal count.

There's a couple more I want to show you.

Out of Cyprus, Pavlos Kontides taking home silver in sailing, getting a lot of celebrations going in his country.

And out of Malaysia, Lee Chong Wei got silver in badminton. And a similar champions welcome home. And you can see how many people were so happy. Listen to those cheers.

Anna, I've got to tell you all over the world there are countries celebrating because they got one medal and good for them. They're very happy with that.

COREN: That is fantastic.

That is the Olympic spirit, isn't it? That's the way it should be. And I think Hong Kong has also claimed a medal. So we'll have to have the ticker tape parade for when that athlete comes home.

LEVS: Oh yeah, Trinidad and Tobago, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, there's a bunch of them with the one medal count.

COREN: Good for them.

Now you've also had a look at some surprising Olympic sports. Tell us more.

LEVS: This is great. You've got to see one more interactive from our partners at taking a look. Now it was set up as a quiz, but I didn't want to put you on the spot. So I'm showing you a little bit of it here. And it shows what some Olympic sports are that you would not have guessed were Olympic sports.

Now they might not be Olympic sports right now, but the ones you're looking at -- water skiing was a demonstration sport in 1972, crochet was an official event in 1900, power boating was an official sport in 1908, and bowling in 1988.

So you know, over time, the Olympics does test out a lot of interesting sports. And what we're not looking at here that really strikes me, I find it fascinating, once upon a time back in 1900 to 1920 tug of war was a legitimate Olympic sport. And Anna, now there's an effort on Facebook to bring back tug of war. I think that is TV ratings gold. What do you think?

COREN: I agree. And that's -- there's hope for all of us. You know, maybe we could enter?

LEVS: You know what, we could have a CNN team right here that as well...

COREN: We could.

LEVS: I've got to (inaudible).

I got links to everything I just showed you on Facebook and Twitter. I want you all to check it out. And let us know what you think the Olympic sports should be that are not being included right now. Maybe we get some of those into the show.

COREN: Josh Levs, always a pleasure, always a pleasure. Lovely to talk to you. Bye-bye.

Well, we wanted to end with a look at some of the latest images we're seeing from the Curiosity rover on Mars. Well late on Thursday the U.S. space agency expects to receive the first color panorama from the planet. Well, you can find many of these images on the Curiosity rover's Twitter account, but these pictures have an important use as well. Remember there's a 14 minute communication delay between Earth and Mars. Now if the rover was driven by remote control, Curiosity could drive over a cliff by the time NASA even sees it. So operators use these pictures to plan its path for the next day. It really is quite amazing, isn't it.

Well, that is News Stream, but the news certainly continues here at CNN. World Business Today is coming up next.