Giant on the move
The Olympics? But I could be watching Stoke City…
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.
Take events in the Water Cube. Until now, my best memories of ‘swimming’ had been Stoke players splashing through the mud on Boxing Day 1984 to record a memorable 2-1 win over Manchester United.
But this week I’ve seen Michael Phelps in the flesh! The American phenomenon has had us all on our feet — seasoned hacks like me, Chinese spectators, and even Phelps’s own rivals — smashing records as fast as Ronaldo will probably put goals past Stoke this year.
And did you see the 4×100 freestyle relay final? The fingertip finish was one of the most exciting moments of the Beijing Games, and surely in swimming history.
Then there was the opening basketball match: hosts China v an NBA star-studded USA. The place was rocking. Dare I say it, the atmosphere rivalled even the Britannia Stadium when we won promotion to the Premier League in May.
On my way to the press centre the other day, I grabbed a coffee and popped in to see the women’s team gymnastics final. The girls’ agility and jumps, the gasps at an occasional stumble and the thrill of China’s gold medal over arch-rivals the United States, left my heart pounding as fast as the thousands of fans I was sitting with.
In this over-excited state, I tried to explain to a Chinese fan that I had not seen such artistry since Liam Lawrence and Ricardo Fuller combined to destroy Coventry away in April. But the allusion was, err, a tad cryptic.
Coming up is the biggest one of all — the men’s 100 metres final in the Bird’s Nest stadium. But oh no, what’s this? The race happens slap-bang in the middle of the opening Premier League game on Saturday. So what’s it to be — go to the Bird’s Nest for the biggest race on earth, or find a quiet corner to listen to Bolton v Stoke on the Internet?
Such a dilemma…
PHOTO: Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the men’s 100m heat at the National Stadium during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Aly Song