Newspaper headlines: Nuclear 'espionage', double Olympic gold and virtual reality cycling

Nuclear espionage charges against the UK's Chinese power station partner and a surge of medals for Team GB at the Olympics make the front pages.

The Times says a senior advisor of state-owned energy giant China General Nuclear Power (CGN) is due in court next week, accused of leading a conspiracy to steal US industry secrets to speed up the development and production of Chinese reactor technology.

The case follows an investigation by the FBI and is being prosecuted by the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, says the Times.

Image copyright EDF/PA
Image caption A decision on Hinkley Point C has been delayed until the autumn

The paper reports: "The allegations raise the prospect that China could one day build a nuclear power plant in Britain using stolen American technology.

"The claims will also heighten concerns over the Hinkley Point deal with China, which was approved by David Cameron but has been stalled by Theresa May amid fears about involving the communist power in a key sector of national infrastructure.

"A decision on the £18bn project in Somerset, designed to supply 7% of the UK's electricity, is expected in the autumn. CGN is a key investor in Hinkley Point alongside the French energy company EDF.

"Under the deal signed during President Xi's state visit last year China would also back a plant at Sizewell, Suffolk, before progressing to a fully Chinese-designed and built plant at Bradwell in Essex."

The adviser has been charged under a 1946 law designed to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons which has never been used successfully before. The Times says CGN declined to comment.


China in a hurry

In a leading article, the Times says an impatient China is piling pressure on Britain to sign up for the Hinkley Point reactor and the prime minister must not be stampeded into a decision on a strategic asset.

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Media captionMirror columnist Susie Boniface and Telegraph columnist Tim Stanley join the BBC News Channel to review Thursday's front pages.

"China is in a hurry," states the Times. "Theresa May, the prime minister, is being urged by Beijing to come to a quick decision on the Hinkley Point nuclear project.

"The Chinese ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, warns that bilateral ties have reached a 'historical juncture'.

"Lord Mandelson, in his role as president of the Great Britain-China Centre, says Mrs May should give the go-ahead to the nuclear deal in the next few weeks.

"The reason for this pressure is plain: the Chinese leadership fears losing face at the G20 summit in Beijing next month if Europeans join the United States in openly questioning the security of its investments abroad."


Tennis player poisoned?

The Telegraph leads with an unusual story about 18-year-old British tennis player Gabriella Taylor amid fears she was deliberately poisoned at this year's junior championships at Wimbledon.

The paper says the Metropolitan Police has launched a criminal investigation after Taylor's parents contacted detectives who have visited the family home in Southampton.

Officers will also visit Taylor's training camp in Spain.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Gabriella Taylor was taken ill in the juniors at Wimbledon this year

The Telegraph reports: "It was initially thought she had contracted a virus while playing overseas or was suffering from food poisoning.

"But after four days in intensive care, doctors diagnosed a rare strain of leptospirosis, a bacteria that can be transmitted through rat urine, prompting her parents to call in the police.

"Police officers will investigate whether she could have been the subject of a malicious plot by a rival player or coach on the junior circuit."

The All England Lawn Tennis Club said there was no record of her using her catering pass to eat on site. Police said they were investigating an allegation of poisoning with intent to endanger life or cause GBH.

The player had to retire from her quarter-final match after being struck down with a mystery illness. In a profile, the Telegraph says she has recently enjoyed a dramatic rise up the rankings and is Britain's number 10.


Eye-catching headlines

  • May prepares for a European summit: Theresa May is to head to Switzerland for some "strenuous" hill walking during her first holiday since becoming prime minister, leaving Chancellor Philip Hammond behind as the most senior minister in Whitehall Times
  • Eyesore neighbours damage your house price: Homeowners who sneer at their neighbours' hideous curtains or tacky garden gnomes may feel vindicated after a report found that properties up for sale near homes with ugly fixtures and furnishings are worth an average of £10,000 less as a result of potential buyers being put off Telegraph
  • If you can't remember where you put your keys, try asking the dog: A study has shown that pet dogs seem to be able to understand when we have misplaced something that is valuable to us, and they do what they can to try to help us find it - at least when they are in the lab Mail

Making a splash

The steady stream of medals for Team GB at the Olympics turned into a torrent on Wednesday with two golds and four bronzes.

And gold medal winners, kayaker Joe Clarke and synchro divers Jack Laugher and Chris Mears, appear on most of the front pages.

"Great Britain has surged into the top ten of the Rio 2016 medal table after winning a host of medals - including golds in the diving and the canoe - putting the country on course for a haul comparable to that clinched in London," says the Times.

"The highlight of the night came with gold medals for Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in the synchronised 3m springboard.

"The success for the duo, who held off challenges from the United States and China, completes an astonishing personal story for Mears, who was given only a 5% chance of surviving after contracting a rare virus that ruptured his spleen and led him to lose five pints of blood in 2009.

"Joe Clarke, from Staffordshire, led the charge for Britain yesterday, winning gold in the men's K1 kayak slalom last night."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Kayaker Joe Clarke got Team GB's gold rush going

There were also bronze medals for cyclist Chris Froome, Steven Scott in the shooting, Sally Conway in judo and, later, gymnast Max Whitlock.

In the Guardian, Owen Gibson in Rio writes on the individual time trial road cycling.

"Beneath leaden, rain-lashed skies on the Rio coast, Tour de France winner Chris Froome failed in his bid to add a golden sheen to his triumphant summer at a time trial event low on crowds but rich in sporting stories," he says.

"Between them 35-year-old Fabian Cancellara, who beat Froome to gold eight years after winning in Beijing, and the American Kristin Armstrong, who won the women's race for the third consecutive time the day before her 43rd birthday, struck a blow for experience."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption ...and synchro divers Jack Laugher (left) and Chris Mears completed it

The Telegraph says Team GB's Rio 2016 gold rush was well and truly under way after victories for Laugher and Mears and for Clarke.

"Until Clarke's brilliant display," says the Telegraph, "Great Britain had appeared to be losing momentum in the medals race, with top names struggling to emulate Adam Peaty's gold medal in the pool early on Monday morning."

The i describes how Laugher and Mears broke down in tears after becoming the first British divers to win Olympic gold.

The Mail says Britain's Olympic gold rush began with a bang with surprise wins in the diving and the kayaking.

The Sun says Laugher and Mears won the men's synchronised 3m springboard by nailing an "impossible" dive no one else has ever attempted.

The Mirror notes that Clarke and Peaty's wins means Staffordshire now has more gold medals than the likes of Germany, Sweden, hosts Brazil and the whole of Africa.


On your bike... virtually

Finally, the Times carries the story of software engineer Aaron Puzey who is halfway through cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats in virtual reality.

He has created a Cycle VR app that synchronises an exercise bike, a Samsung Galaxy 6 smartphone, Gear VR goggles, a cycling cadence monitor and Google's Street View mapping software.

"He has passed through Penzance, Bristol, Birmingham and Stockport, but he hasn't left his living room in Dundee," says the Times.

"His legs have, however, pedalled about 370 miles, taking him across the River Tamar into Devon, through Dartmoor, over the Clifton suspension bridge and, on Monday, past Manchester Central Library.

"He has overtaken marathon runners and he cycled past the same man twice while going through Lapford in Devon."

Mr Puzey, 44, tells the Times that he has been using the exercise bike for years, for half-an-hour a day, but "it's just a bit monotonous".