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from Changing China:

Olympic luck – it’s a numbers game

radcliffeEight could be Michael Phelps's lucky number if he can trump Mark Spitz's Olympic haul of of seven golds at the 100m medley relay in Beijing on Sunday.

If so, he would have something in common with many host team athletes, who are big on the number 8 because in Chinese it sounds like a word for prosperity (fa). That's why the Olympic Games opened on the 8th day of the 8th month at 8pm.

However, British marathoner Paula Radcliffe is counting on number 17 to banish memories  of her disastrous run in Athens and claim her first Olympic medal.  She was born on the 17th of the month, as was her grandmother and her daughter. According to a report in Britain's Sunday Telegraph, the coincidence goes even further: her grandmother got engaged on a 17th and was married on a 17th too. 

Specially designed running shoes that Radcliffe will be wearing in the race on Sunday have 17 17 17 written vertically at the back.

from Changing China:

Shooting for a good story

shooting starsWhile talking with Matt Emmons in the "mixed zone" after he won a silver medal on Saturday, I suddenly noticed the American sharpshooter had brought his rifle with him.

Resting casually on his left foot, it was pointed up at the ceiling, presumably empty of the ammunition he used to hit a thumbnail-sized bullseye 50 metres away nine of 10 times, but still, it was a reminder of how much I hate the things.

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?"

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.

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