Changing China

Giant on the move

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Secret moustache pact paying off in the pool

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water polo moustacheCroatia’s water polo team have all grown moustaches for the Olympics but they refuse to divulge exactly why.

“It’s for good luck, but we can’t talk about it — it’s a secret,” said Igor Hinic after an 11-7 victory over Italy. ”If I tell you, it will ruin it. Maybe it’s working — it worked today — but it’s too early to tell.”

Click here for the full story.

One of the more famous moustaches in the pool belonged to David Wilkie, of course, and this story reminded me of a (no doubt tall) tale about the great Scot. I was told that Wilkie once said, jokingly, to a bunch of Soviet swimmers that his great times were down to his silky big moustache making him more streamlined in the water. At the next big event, the Soviets all turned up sporting similarly impressive moustaches…

If anyone knows if there is even a grain of truth in that story, please let me know.

Beijing podcast — day two

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I’m joined today by Mitch Phillips, Karolos Grohmann and swimming expert Julian Linden to talk about the blockbusting start to the swimming from Michael Phelps, the relegation of athletics to second class status this week and all that’s been happening in the IOC corridors of power.

Greek sprinter Thanou barred from Games

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Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou has been barred from competing at the Beijing Olympics over her involvement in the doping scandal that overshadowed the Athens Games.

Thanou came back from her two-year ban to qualify for these Games but she still needed permission from the IOC to compete and that has been emphatically denied.

Michael Phelps — one down, seven to go

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Phelps winsMichael Phelps shattered his own world record to win the 400m individual swimming medley in four minutes 03.84 seconds and claim the first of what could be a record-breaking haul of eight gold medals.

The American swimmer, who won six golds at the last Olympics in Athens, has his sights on beating the record of seven golds bagged by Mark Spitz in 1972. The secondary target is four golds to take him ahead of Spitz, Carl Lewis, Finnish middle and long-distance runner Paavo Nurmi and Larysa Latynina, the former Soviet gymnast, in the list of athletes with the most gold medals at the Olympics (currently nine).

Day one at the Olympics

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The opening day of real competition at the Olympic Games produced seven gold medals, two of them for China and one each for the United States, South Korea, Romania, Spain and Czech Republic.

There was a pall cast over the day’s sporting events, however, as a Chinese man stabbed to death the father-in-law of a U.S. Olympic coach at a Beijing tourist spot before taking his own life.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Picture of the day

Russell Boyce writes: Rome-based photographer Stefano Rellandini has captured the joy of winning and the agony of coming so close to that precious gold medal, but just falling short.

Spain’s Samuel Sanchez covers his head in ecstasy after winning the men’s road race gold while Davide Rebellin (2nd R) of Italy and Fabian Cancellara (R) of Switzerland can only look on in despair.

Will Bahamas top medals table again?

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There’s an interesting graphic at moreintelligentlife.com showing the medals table at the last Olympics in Athens, adjusted for each country’s population.

The Bahamas are top with Australia second and Cuba third, according to the site’s calculations. Australia were fourth in the unadjusted table, which I guess just highlights their extraordinary performances at the highest level in sport.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Opening ceremony

Russell Boyce writes: Deciding on a picture of the day from the opening ceremony proved to be harder than I first thought.

The picture has to have the Olympic flame, it has to show the Olympic Rings, it has to show the stadium and part of the opening ceremoy itself and of course it has to show fireworks.

Beijing podcast — day one

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I hesitated before posting this as for a variety of reasons we had very little time and a very dodgy mic to record our first Reuters podcast from the Beijing Games.

Still, in the spirit of blogging (and full disclosure) I thought I’d give you a chance to hear our first stab it it. I’m joined by my fellow reporters Simon Evans, Ossian Shine and Julian Linden for a chat abut opening ceremonies, the first medal events and the Michael Phelps.

The Olympic Games by numbers

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    18 – number of days of competition – Aug. 6-7 and 9-24. 302 – medal events 10,708 – athletes taking part 21,600 – media accredited to the Games 2,924 – judges and referees 70,000 – Olympic Games volunteers 91,000 – seats in the “Bird’s Nest” stadium 31 – venues in Beijing 6 – venues outside Beijing (Hong Kong, Qingdao, Tianjin, Shenyang, Shanghai, Qinhuangdao) 7,000,000 – tickets sold 5,000 yuan – ticket for opening ceremony ($661.4) 30 yuan – ticket for softball preliminaries ($3.97) 137,000 km – distance covered by pre-Games torch relay 24.9 Celsius – average temperature in Beijing in August 159.7 mm – average rainfall in Beijing in August

Reuters is putting out a ton of stats and factbox material as well as scores of stories per day. If you haven’t already, please check out our Olympics Website here.

NOTE: This post was updated with new information at 0837 GMT on August 8.

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