Changing China

Giant on the move

The Olympics? But I could be watching Stoke City…

August 15, 2008

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.

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


No contest son, it’s got to be those Rip Roaring Potters everytime.

I’ll be there at The Reebok tomorrow with my son, the 23 year wait is over.

Posted by David (Stoke Fan) | Report as abusive

Come on the Potters!

Posted by Michael Holden | Report as abusive

You have to bring Stoke City into an otherwise nice article – don’t you?? !!!!

Posted by Mike Heard | Report as abusive

I’d never have guessed you were a Stoke fan, Dave … It is a tough call, though. History being made … or watching the 100m final.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

great article :)

Posted by rob | Report as abusive

Honest as well…

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

This is a good article. Lots of great info.


Right on, son, and up the Potters! Glad you stuck with Stoke through thick and thin, and that I taught you to get your priorities right, even though you are too young to have seen Sir Stanley Matthews, Mortenson etc play 60 years ago when we first moved from London to the 5 Towns


Great post! Very amusing. Shame about the result, but at least not as bad as Pompey’s! Much looking forward to the relegation battle!!

Posted by Andrew Paxman | Report as abusive

I thought Usain Bolt was dumb. He could have powered through and clocked 9.5s or less and achieved possibly a record that would stand for at least 20yrs. Instead he slowed down and celebrated, getting only temporary glory.

Since this is a football blog, the equivalent of that is a footballer refusing to score into an open goal to grab his hat-trick in a world cup final and instead passing to someone in the far corner.

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

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