Changing China

Giant on the move

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Liu Xiang injury breaks China hearts

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Liu Xiang walks away

Liu Xiang’s quest to win a home Olympic gold ended before it had begun on Monday, as an injury prevented the 110 metre hurdler from starting his first heat.

China’s world and Olympic champion, the host nation’s best hope of an athletics gold medal at the Beijing Games, pulled up after a false start and walked off the track, stunning the huge crowd at the Bird’s Nest stadium into silence.

Liu’s preparations for the Olympics were hindered by a hamstring injury, and later an Achilles problem. It appeared to be a recurrence of the former injury on Monday as he grimaced in pain after leaving the blocks.

Along with basketball player Yao Ming, Liu is China’s favourite sportsman and there was a huge weight of expectation on him going into his home Games.

When is a false start not a false start?

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Women’s 100 metresI knew something was up when an official abruptly announced that the women’s 100 metres final news conference had been postponed.

Comments made by the two American sprinters on their way off the track had already rung an alarm bell.

McYam meals fuel fastest man

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Bolt posesYesterday I took a mean swipe at sports journalists for the vacuous questions they put to athletes. I must tip my baseball cap today, however, to the reporter who asked Usain Bolt how the fastest man in the world had spent his day.

It seems the Jamaican did a lot of time sleeping, and in between feasted on “nuggets”.

Fraser makes it double delight for Jamaica

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Fraser makes it a Jamaica doubleShelly-Ann Fraser roared clear of the pack to win the Olympic gold medal in the women’s 100 metres and complete a sprint double for Jamaica.

Fraser finished ahead of Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson, who dead-heated for silver in a Jamaican clean sweep at the Bird’s Nest on Sunday.

Beijing podcast — day nine

The podcast team reflect on insane Usain, Phelps fatigue and the most dangerous man at the Beijing Olympics.

I’m joined by Julian Linden, Belinda Goldsmith, Brian Homewood, Erik Kirschbaum and Neil Maidment to look at the dafter side of the Beijing Games.

‘Insane Usain’ sets my first Games alight

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Bolt takes the congratulationsAs Usain Bolt coasted past my press seat in a burst of speed and swagger on Saturday night, splaying his arms and pumping his chest as he crossed the 100 metres finish line, it was just the buzz everyone had promised me from my first Olympics.

I was there to report on the atmosphere at the Games’ blue riband event, but involuntarily found myself screaming encouragement, then laughing in joy and awe. As he ran around the track in delighted celebration, I was close to tears.

Can swimming ever be a mass spectator sport?

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phelps in the spotlight

The American swimming great was still wet from winning his unprecedented eighth gold when he dedicated his victory to — swimming.

At his press conference Michael Phelps did it again, telling awed journalists that the seven new world records, 14 career golds and all the sweat that went into attaining them, would serve “my goal of raising the sport of swimming in the U.S. as high as it can go.”

A long road back for Radcliffe

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Radcliffe in agonyI respect Paula Radcliffe for finishing the Olympic marathon, especially since she was clearly in agonising pain, but I don’t understand her decision to race in the first place.

The Olympics seem to be an excuse for thinking you can do anything to your body without paying a price. But there is a price and the problem is that athletes pay it once the cameras stop rolling.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

Bolt wins the men’s 100 metres

Picture of the day has to be the victory celebration of the fastest man on earth, Jamaican Usain Bolt, after winning Olympic gold at the 100 m sprint.

This picture was shot by London-based Reuters staff photographer Dylan Martinez and the composition is perfect.

Bolt takes sprinting to a whole new level

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Bolt with the flagUsain Bolt’s 100m triumph at the Bird’s Nest will surely be one of those sporting moments that stay in the collective memory for decades.

As anyone who was there, or who saw the TV pictures, will attest, Bolt could have put in an even quicker time than his new world record of 9.69 seconds, had he not started celebrating with 20 metres to go (it’s down to yam power, according to his family).

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