Changing China

Giant on the move

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900 days on, my Games begin

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Synchronised swimmersI’d like to write that when I first arrived in Beijing on that freezing February morning in 2006, I spied, through the gloom and smog, the number 900 on the Olympic countdown clock that sits beside the airport highway.

I can’t do that, sadly — I don’t remember it, and I’m not even sure the countdown clocks were up by then — but that is, by my calculation, what it would have read on my first day in China.

This morning I did see a clock and it read zero. In the intervening two-and-a-half years I have lived and breathed the Beijing Olympics and must have written today’s date, the eighth of the eighth 2008,┬áhundreds of times.

I remember the 800 day countdown very well. I had gone to Jingsong No.4 School in central Beijing to write a story about the Olympic education programme.

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