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from Changing China:

Liu Xiang: the end of an Olympic dream

Liu grimaces"Well that's it," a journalist friend said when he phoned me at the Bird's Nest a couple of hours after Liu Xiang hobbled out of the Beijing Olympics. "We might as well pack our backs and go home."
 
We won't, of course, but for us China-based reporters, this was always going to be the big one: the race that defined the Olympics.
 
I was in the Olympic stadium in Athens the night Liu won the 110 metres hurdles gold. Then it was a mild diversion, a tremendous performance from an unlikely source. He had barely finished his lap of honour, though, before his title defence in Beijing was being written about. It was too neat a line to miss.
 
Since then, I've written thousands of words about the skinny man from Shanghai with a penchant for karaoke and braised pork.
 
I was there last year, too, when he won his first world title on a hot and humid night in Osaka, his favourite track.
 
By then I'd been inside the Bird's Nest and even as I pondered the raw concrete bowl with mud beneath my feet where the track would lie, I was thinking about how it would look and sound packed to its twisted steel rafters with a fevered Chinese crowd cheering Liu on.
 
Liu’s coach criesWe did see him run in the stadium at a test event earlier this year, but, to adapt a line from an American politician, I know Olympic finals and that was no Olympic final.
 
After his injury earlier this season, and his disappearance behind closed doors for a couple of months, I can't even say I'm even surprised by what has happened. 
 
I have always felt sorry for Liu because of the pressure he was under and today also felt sympathy for his coach Sun Haiping, who has always come across as a thoroughly decent man. 
 
But rather selfishly, my main emotion is disappointment. We now know almost for certain that we will never hear the sound of 91,000 people celebrating an Olympic gold medal for one of their own in what must be one of the world's finest stadiums.  

PHOTO (TOP): Liu Xiang of China grimaces in pain during his warm-up before the start of his 110m hurdles heat in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 18, 2008. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

PHOTO (BOTTOM): Sun Haiping, coach of China's Liu Xiang, cries during a news conference at the National Stadium. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

from Changing China:

South American rivalry to spice up the Games

Argentina celebrateOnly one thing would give Argentina more pleasure than winning their second Olympic gold and that would be to stop Brazil from winning their first in the process.

The Olympic soccer tournament does not cut much ice in Europe but it is taken much more seriously in South America. Brazil have won the World Cup five times, the Copa America eight and the Confederations Cup twice and their failure to add an Olympic gold to their collection rankles.

from Changing China:

Liu Xiang injury breaks China hearts

Liu Xiang walks away

Liu Xiang's quest to win a home Olympic gold ended before it had begun on Monday, as an injury prevented the 110 metre hurdler from starting his first heat.

China's world and Olympic champion, the host nation's best hope of an athletics gold medal at the Beijing Games, pulled up after a false start and walked off the track, stunning the huge crowd at the Bird's Nest stadium into silence.

from Changing China:

When is a false start not a false start?

Women’s 100 metresI knew something was up when an official abruptly announced that the women's 100 metres final news conference had been postponed.

Comments made by the two American sprinters on their way off the track had already rung an alarm bell.

from Changing China:

McYam meals fuel fastest man

Bolt posesYesterday I took a mean swipe at sports journalists for the vacuous questions they put to athletes. I must tip my baseball cap today, however, to the reporter who asked Usain Bolt how the fastest man in the world had spent his day.

It seems the Jamaican did a lot of time sleeping, and in between feasted on "nuggets".

from Changing China:

Fraser makes it double delight for Jamaica

Fraser makes it a Jamaica doubleShelly-Ann Fraser roared clear of the pack to win the Olympic gold medal in the women's 100 metres and complete a sprint double for Jamaica.

Fraser finished ahead of Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson, who dead-heated for silver in a Jamaican clean sweep at the Bird's Nest on Sunday.

from Changing China:

‘Insane Usain’ sets my first Games alight

Bolt takes the congratulationsAs Usain Bolt coasted past my press seat in a burst of speed and swagger on Saturday night, splaying his arms and pumping his chest as he crossed the 100 metres finish line, it was just the buzz everyone had promised me from my first Olympics.

I was there to report on the atmosphere at the Games' blue riband event, but involuntarily found myself screaming encouragement, then laughing in joy and awe. As he ran around the track in delighted celebration, I was close to tears.

from Changing China:

Video expert: tennis at the Olympics

On the day of the men's singles gold medal match between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Gonzalez, Ossian Shine of Reuters leafs through the record books ... so that you don't have to.

[flv]http://mediacdn.reuters.com/blogs/2008-08-17/05.10.01-3696441120a402f793a704766540e69e.flv[/flv]

from Changing China:

Phelps out on his own with eighth gold medal — your views

Michael Phelps completed his record-breaking haul of eight gold medals at one Games on Sunday, beating fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz's seven from Munich in 1972.

This one was never in much doubt -- in stark contrast to the 'fingernail' win in yesterday's butterfly -- as he and his American team won the 4 x 100 metres medley relay comfortably. It took his overall tally to 14 from two Games.

from Changing China:

Beijing Games: picture of the day

Bolt wins the men’s 100 metres

Picture of the day has to be the victory celebration of the fastest man on earth, Jamaican Usain Bolt, after winning Olympic gold at the 100 m sprint.

This picture was shot by London-based Reuters staff photographer Dylan Martinez and the composition is perfect.

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