Changing China

Giant on the move

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China opens Paralympic Games

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opening cermoney one

Beijing opened the Paralympic Games in spectacular fashion on Saturday, the crowd at the Bird’s Nest roaring in approval at the lavish performance overseen by renowned Chinese film director Zhang Yimou.

Particularly well received was a moving ballet performance by a young girl who lost a leg in May’s massive Sichuan earthquake.

Check out the photos and click here to read Ben Blanchard’s view from the Bird’s Nest…

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Reuters photos by Jason Lee (top two) and Claro Cortes IV (bottom)

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Farewell from the Bird’s Nest

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Last man sitting

Well, not quite the Bird’s Nest, but from the Reuters office at the Main Press Centre, just down the road.

Thanks for coming by and making this blog such a lively place during the Olympics. It might not quite be the end — the blog will still be here, the comments will remain open and we may well have a few more posts on Games-related issues — but I’m on my way out of Beijing (the office is being dismantled around me, as you can see).

Snapshot Beijing, 7: Bolt breaks the unbreakable world record

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Bolt breaks the 200 world record

My abiding memory from these Games  will be watching Usain Bolt give everything he had to break a world record most of us had thought unbreakable.

Michael Johnson’s time of 19.32 in the 200 metres had never been seriously challenged before the Jamaican sprinter, a headline writer’s dream, decided it was finally time to get down to some serious work.

Olympic fever hits London

Riding a wave of sporting euphoria after its best Olympic performance in a century, Britain accepted Olympic host-nation status from China on Sunday with a huge street party in front of Buckingham Palace.

Owen Wyatt catches up with Olympic gold medallists Michael Phelps and Bradley Wiggins as London throbbed with 40,000 partygoers at a live concert to start the countdown to the London 2012 Olympics.

Beijing 2008: Were these the best Games ever?

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Fireworks at the closing ceremony

The Beijing Olympic Games closed on Sunday, as China passed on the flame to London.

Former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch was in the habit of describing each Games as “the best ever”, with the notable exception of Atlanta in 1996.

Beijing podcast — day 16

Join us for the 16th and last podcast from the Beijing Olympics. We cast an eye back over the best moments of the Games, discuss Beijing’s world ranking and look ahead to quite a contrast with the next Olympics in London.

Julian Linden, Belinda Goldsmith, Nick Mulvenney and Robert F Woodward join me for the festivities. And Laura, that line at the start is really only a joke… 

Snapshot Beijing, 2: Matthias Steiner

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Steiner

Continuing our look at the golden moments from the Games, Sophie Hardach tells us what it was like watching the heart-wrenching story of weightlifter Matthias Steiner unfold.

Sophie writes:

After covering 14 Olympic weightlifting competitions, I sat down for the super-heavyweight contest knowing that it would be the most spectacular of them all. In the previous contests, I had seen hulking strongmen in tears, had watched lifters crash to the floor under the barbell, had heard caveman howls and primal screams.

Story of day 15: Mitcham’s amazing dive

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Mitcham dives

Matthew Mitcham did two surprising things in Beijing. He scooped a gold medal from the apparently invincible Chinese diving team and told anyone who asked that he is gay.

Mitcham broke down in tears after a nearly perfect last dive edged him above the Chinese favourite into top place. It was the eighth and last medal in a sport that the host nation utterly dominates and was expected to sweep.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Maradona and Ronaldinho

Rickey Rogers writes: Pictures of sports idols don’t get much better than this one. Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona kisses the hand of modern-day Brazilian idol Ronaldinho.

The rivalry between their countries, their differences in personality and the arrogance for which Maradona is known all make this fraction of a second one that in the sports world speaks volumes.

Spare a thought for He in gymnastics row (Update)

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He KexinWhatever the results of the investigation into the date of birth of He Kexin, China’s double Olympic gold medallist, I hope we don’t lose sight of the fact that even in the event of any subterfuge the gymnast herself would not be the one to blame.

The International Olympic Committee has asked the gymnastics federation to check He’s date of birth of following claims that she might be under the minimum age to compete.

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