Changing China

Giant on the move

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Chinese fans not shy in picking sides

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China fansChina had just lost to the U.S. but even though their team was out the crowd’s cheering, jeering, floor stomping and plastic stick drumming was just warming up on a 14-hour day of men’s volleyball play.

One match later, the Chinese fans were wildly rooting for Egypt over Russia.

“Is it politics? I don’t think so,” said one baffled Egyptian player. But he had no better ideas. 

Later the crowd roared for Germany over Serbia and every time Japan tossed a ball in the air to serve against Venezuela that evening, the still largely Chinese crowd of 7,500 booed and stomped until the stadium vibrated.

Beijing podcast — day 13

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Was the IOC right to criticise Usain Bolt? What is the most dangerous sport at the Games? And what’s the worst horse joke you could possibly imagine?

Tune in to the latest podcast as I’m joined by Julian Linden, Simon Evans, Ossian Shine and Paul Majendie for a figurative stroll around the Olympic green. 

Those moving medal moments…

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Isinbayeva on the podiumRemember the Black Power salutes from the podium in Mexico 1968?

The 2008 Beijing Olympics medal ceremonies might not produce anything to match that, but there has been no shortage of drama so far.

In the full emotional spectrum, we have had:

Anger – Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian stormed off the podium to dump his bronze on the mat in a protest against referees.

Criticism of Bolt is hard to fathom

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Bolt celebrates

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, chided Usain Bolt on Thursday for showing a lack of respect to his rivals after his sprint double at the Beijing Games.

Maybe it’s a generational thing but I doubt if a single person lucky enough to be in the Bird’s Nest on for his 200 metres gold and world record on Wednesday, or when he won his 100 metres in such audacious style, would agree.

A contact sport with a vengeance

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water poloIs there a more violent Olympic sport than water polo? Down at the Yingdong Natatorium it looked like the last scene of “Jaws” with all that water churning frenetically.

It looks tough enough on the surface. Lord knows what is happening under the water. This is a contact sport with a vengeance.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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First gold

Russell Boyce writes: A big celebration for a first medal win for Afghanistan gets the picture of the day nomination.

New Delhi based Reuters News Pictures photographer Desmond Boylan captured this special moment as Afghanistan’s Rohullah Nikpai celebrated beating Spain’s Juan Antonio Ramos to win a bronze medal during the men’s -58kg taekwando bronze medal competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Lightning Bolt strikes again — your views

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Bolt gesturesJamaica’s Usain Bolt completed a breathtaking sprint double at the Beijing Games on Wednesday, breaking the 200 metres world record that many had thought unbreakable to take his second Olympic gold medal.

The contrast between this and his winning run in the 100 could hardly have been more marked, as this time he gave it everything he had to go under the old best mark, Michael Johnson’s 19.32, by two hundredths of a second.

What’s so wrong with the sound of silence?

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Fuwa noiseI might sound like a grumpy middle-aged Englishman in this blog, so be warned.

It seems like silence has been outlawed at the Beijing Olympics. Every second between every performance is filled with cheesy American rock, or the sort of music reminiscent of the moment the
hero comes to the rescue in a mediocre sub-Spielberg movie.

This is obviously an attempt to create an atmosphere and has been lifted wholesale from American sport. But as someone who has been brought up with the roar of the crowd at Fratton Park (Portsmouth Football Club’s home ground for non-British readers) I have to say it jars.

Beijing podcast — day 12

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Tune in to the unfortunately timed day 12 podcast from Beijing, recorded shortly before Usain Bolt’s crack at the 200 metres, to learn about:

The alternative alternative Olympics medals table

The great gold medal con trick

The ping pong bong

Who could resist? It’s eight minutes of nonsense, with an old joke at the end, and features Julian Linden, Belinda Goldsmith, Padraic Halpin, Karolos Grohmann and me.

Germans grieve with lovelorn lifter

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Steiner wipes away a tearWhen super-heavyweight lifter Matthias Steiner won his first Olympic gold medal, he kissed a photo of the woman he had buried in her wedding dress last year.

The hulking German’s tale of love and loss has moved millions of viewers around the world, and the image of Steiner holding up the photo of Susann, who died after a car crash, was splashed across German websites on Wednesday.

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