Changing China

Giant on the move

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Welcome to the Stretchy Pants Olympics

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WrestlersAnd now, live from Las Vegas, NBC Live Sports is proud to present: Saturday Night Badminton!

No? How about Saturday Night Fencing? Or maybe: Welcome to The Kayak Bowl!

The big U.S. broadcaster is paying a fortune to televise minority sports such as these from the Beijing Olympics, but don’t expect it to remake its fall TV sports schedule, no matter how many Golds Americans win at them.

We would have asked NBC why they go to the trouble of showing things like judo and rowing, but our top researcher, Keanu, already had a response: “They’d give you a boring answer, dude.” Then he went back to talking to his girlfriend on his mobile.

“So I was like…so he was like…so I was like….”

But, it’s no secret anyway. As everyone knows, track and swim and bike and gym have the lion’s share of gold medals, celebrity, television close-ups and cool stuff at the Olympic Games.

Day five at the Olympics

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Michael Phelps cast a shadow over the Games once again on Wednesday as the man from Baltimore won two more gold medals, and set two more world records, to take his Beijing tally to five and make it 11 gold medals in his career.

What an athlete this man is. He is renowned as a cool customer, but we noted today that he did not entirely reject the idea that he is the world’s greatest Olympian. That’s a big debate, and one we’ve joined in lustily here at View from the Bird’s Nest, but no one would deny that he’s one of the greatest Olympians and I’m sure he’s about to put a lot more fuel on the fire when he goes for the remaining three golds open to him.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Phelps underwater

Gary Hershorn writes: Underwater photography is a tricky thing to get right but Germany-based photographer Wolfgang Rattay has perfected the art of making dramatic images from a most unusual angle.

Today’s photo of Michael Phelps winning his 10th all-time gold medal (the 11th came later) was perfect in its beauty and painting like feel. The image captured Phelps in the lead and on his way to gold.

Beijing podcast — day five

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Where do athletes go after they’ve outgrown the pantheon?

Just who is the Marine Biologist from Baltimore?

And who was responsible for a piece of writing variously described as the worst piece of publishing ever, the worst article ever written and being based on a stupid premise?

Click play on the podcast above to find out the answers to all these questions and more, as I’m joined by Mitch Phillips, Padraic Halpin, Simon Evans and the world’s loudest Australian, Julian Linden.

Phelps is so good the rest have their sights on silver

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Phelps’s mother kisses her sonPoor Laszlo Cseh, the Hungarian who twice in these Games has finished second to Michael Phelps, was quite frank when asked by a reporter whether he had thought, during Wednesday’s 200m butterfly that he could actually beat Michael Phelps.

“It never even crossed my mind,” he said.

That should tell you everything about how much better Phelps is than his rivals — they know they are swimming for silver medal at best and that can’t be much fun.

Olympics has an Audrey Hepburn moment

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Rings in the ceremonyFirst it was the fireworks (see below). Now it turns out the opening ceremony to the Beijing Games had its very own Audrey Hepburn moment.

Nine-year-old Lin Miaoke, who was celebrated across China as the angelic voice with the adorable face who sang “Ode to the Motherland” at Friday’s ceremony, was merely a photogenic stand-in for the real singer, who was rejected because of her appearance.

You’ve won the medal, now visit the country

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Boukpeti with medalTogo won its first ever Olympic medal on Tuesday, when Benjamin Boukpeti picked up a surprise bronze in the men’s slalom kayak event. Now he says he’s going to visit Togo.

Excuse me?

Athletes competing for countries other than the ones they were born in is nothing new. Middle-distance runner Lopez Lomong, who left his village in southern Sudan in 1991 aged six, carried the stars and stripes into the Bird’s Nest stadium at the head of the U.S. team.

Phantastic Mr Phelps (x2)

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Phelps rubs his eyes

Michael Phelps made light of goggle trouble to claim his fourth gold medal of the Games and then helped his American team win the 4 x 100 m freestyle and make it five wins from five, in fact five world records from five, at these Games.

He now has 11 Olympic gold medals, which puts clear blue water between him and four athletes who have won nine.

Day four at the Olympics

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Michael Phelps made the headlines once again – most of them including the word “pantheon” — as he made it three gold medals and three world records from three finals so far.

The American now has nine career Olympic gold medals to his name and will almost certainly break the record he now shares with four other athletes when he swims in two finals tomorrow.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Natalie Coughlin

Gold medallist Natalie Coughlin (C) of the U.S. wipes away tears as she stands with silver medallist Kirsty Coventry (L) of Zimbabwe and bronze medallist Margaret Hoelzer (R) of the U.S. during the medal ceremony for the women’s 100 meters backstroke swimming final during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 12, 2008. REUTERS/David Gray

Gary Hershorn writes: Emotions run high at the Olympics so it is always nice to see an athlete let loose and cry upon winning or receiving their gold medal. U.S. swimmer Natalie Coughlin cried on the victory podium and then again on the pool deck as she stood in front of photographers completely unable to contain her emotions. This never fails to produce a strong emotional photo.

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