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from Changing China:

How do you feel, George? Well, it was a speech of two halves…

Bush pitchesJournalists don't generally address politicians by their first name, they tend to ask them searching questions and it's rare to see them fawning. Not so, sports reporters.

For the vacuous, how about this, heard in the handball mixed zone at the Beijing Games: "Congratulations, Anita. Fantastic match. How did you feel in the last 10 minutes?"

(Who are these people who seem to be on first-name terms with athletes of second-tier sports anyway)?

Or take the killer question thrown at the men's kayak bronze medallist this week: "Benjamin, I saw you go over and hug your mum. What did you say to her?"
 
Imagine if the rest of the journalistic fraternity adopted the same fascination with touchy-feely trivia I've found while covering the Games. The White House press corps, for example:

from Changing China:

Heroic Phelps equals Spitz record (Update x2)

Phelps record

Michael Phelps joined Mark Spitz at the highest peak of Olympic achievement on Saturday when his final, desperate lunge for the board brought him victory in the 100m butterfly by the thinnest possible margin and gave him his seventh gold medal at these Games -- after an official protest from Serbia was rejected.

Milorad Cavic of Serbia appeared to have the gold tied up until Phelps's perfect timing saw him home by one hundredth of a second. That is as precise as the timekeeping goes but if anything it looked less than that and shortly after the race Serbia protested the result.

from Changing China:

Beijing Games: picture of the day

Judo1

We actually have two pictures of the day for Friday, on a similar theme. These two shots are truly inspirational... The Games aren't just about perfectly toned bodies, after all!

TOP: Andreas Tolzer of Germany (L) fights Janusz Wojnarowicz of Poland during their men's +100kg repechage judo match at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

from Changing China:

Charles in charge: speed, momentum and centrifugal force

Charles in charge at the velodromeI've never met Matt Lauer from NBC but I was assured this week that I kicked his ass.

That was the consensus of several USA Cycling experts when I finally rolled off the Olympic velodrome after a gut-wrenching but exhilarating ride.

from Changing China:

A stroll in the sun for Usain Bolt (Updated)

Bolt amblesUntil today I would not have thought it possible that somebody could amble 100 metres in 9.92 seconds but that is what Usain Bolt did in his second heat of the event on the first day of athletics action in the Bird's Nest.

The gods had been kind and produced a clear-skied day hot day with minimum breeze and Bolt enjoyed his time in the sun.

from Changing China:

Are we taking things too far in this pursuit of excellence?

Synchronised divingCitius, Altius, Fortius or Faster, Higher, Stronger goes the Olympic motto, but is world sport pushing things a bit too hard?

I'm talking about the way young children are chosen at an early age and groomed for success, often at the expense of their childhood and their education.

from Changing China:

Beijing podcast — day seven

[flv]http://mediacdn.reuters.com/blogs/2008-08-15/11.05.01-55a56ba8a677e5af915478acf4147462.flv[/flv]

In which Julian Linden, Martin Petty, Ossian Shine and myself combine to discuss Harry Potter, Rocky and Mary Poppins, as well as all the sport you could shake a stick at.

from Changing China:

The Olympics? But I could be watching Stoke City…

Bolt on trackI had always thought the height of sporting ecstasy was watching my beloved Stoke City score a goal.

Now I'm at the Olympics in Beijing, well, I think I still do... but I must admit this life-long credo is coming under severe strain.

from Changing China:

Michael Phelps: the joy of six

Phelps joy

Six races, six world records and six gold medals: there really is no stopping Michael Phelps at these Games.

The man from Baltimore finished over a second ahead of his closest rival, Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, in the men's 200 metres individual medley on Friday to close to within one of Mark Spitz's record of seven golds at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Ryan Lochte, pictured above, was third.

from Changing China:

Day six at the Games: Roger Federer’s miserable year

FedererRoger Federer came to Beijing hoping for a singles gold medal to ease the pain of losing the last two major finals and his number one ranking to Rafa Nadal.

Tennis at the Olympics may rank far below the Grand Slams but considering he has not won one of those this year a gold medal would still have served very nicely, thanks very much.

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