Changing China

Giant on the move

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China assured of first place in medals table

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Zhang YiningThere’s been a lively discussion, here and elsewhere, about which version of the medals table is a better way of ranking countries’ achievements at the Olympics.

Reuters goes with the “gold standard”, if you like, which has put China out in front almost from the start. Other, mainly American outlets go with the “total number of medals” tally that puts the U.S. on top.

It’s been interesting to hear so many different points of view, and suggestions for different, weighted systems of formatting the table (see the original piece here).

A lot of people like the idea of different points for gold, silver and bronze, while I’ve enjoyed the notion of combining that weighting system with a per capita bias. That was suggested to me by Greg Stutchbury, a colleague from New Zealand, and it worked out that top of the medals table would be New Zealand. Strange, that.

Clean sweep in the sprints — it’s the Jamaica Olympics

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Vampbell-Brown celebrates clean sweep

Congratulations to Jamaica for completing a clean sweep in the men’s and women’s sprints at the Beijing Games on Thursday.

Veronica Campbell-Brown surged to 200 metres victory on Thursday, making it four golds from the four individual events and shutting out the U.S. for the first time since they boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980.

Have the British peaked too soon?

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A British feeding poleThere was a joke going around the Olympics (until yesterday evening) about how none of Britain’s gold medals had been won by people standing up. Perfect for the British, no? We do like a nice sit down and a cup of tea after all.

Christine Ohuruogu ended that odd little sequence when she followed the sailors, swimmers, cyclists and rowers on to the podium to collect her gold for the women’s 400 metres.

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.

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.”

Phelps out on his own with eighth gold medal — your views

Michael Phelps completed his record-breaking haul of eight gold medals at one Games on Sunday, beating fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz’s seven from Munich in 1972.

This one was never in much doubt — in stark contrast to the ‘fingernail’ win in yesterday’s butterfly — as he and his American team won the 4 x 100 metres medley relay comfortably. It took his overall tally to 14 from two Games.

Heroic Phelps equals Spitz record (Update x2)

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Phelps record

Michael Phelps joined Mark Spitz at the highest peak of Olympic achievement on Saturday when his final, desperate lunge for the board brought him victory in the 100m butterfly by the thinnest possible margin and gave him his seventh gold medal at these Games — after an official protest from Serbia was rejected.

Milorad Cavic of Serbia appeared to have the gold tied up until Phelps’s perfect timing saw him home by one hundredth of a second. That is as precise as the timekeeping goes but if anything it looked less than that and shortly after the race Serbia protested the result.

Michael Phelps — a modest American hero

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Phelps listens to the national anthemIf anyone at this Games could be forgiven for being a little bit conceited, a touch arrogant or slightly dismissive of his opponents then it surely would be Michael Phelps. Six races, six gold medals, six world records — it must be hard to keep your feet on the ground.

The reality is that having watched Phelps close-up this week, both poolside and in the press conference room, there isn’t the slightest whiff of arrogance about him. Even when provoked, by a reporter’s question about doping for example, he remains calm and respectful giving a sensible answer.

Are we taking things too far in this pursuit of excellence?

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Synchronised divingCitius, Altius, Fortius or Faster, Higher, Stronger goes the Olympic motto, but is world sport pushing things a bit too hard?

I’m talking about the way young children are chosen at an early age and groomed for success, often at the expense of their childhood and their education.

Michael Phelps: the joy of six

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Phelps joy

Six races, six world records and six gold medals: there really is no stopping Michael Phelps at these Games.

The man from Baltimore finished over a second ahead of his closest rival, Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, in the men’s 200 metres individual medley on Friday to close to within one of Mark Spitz’s record of seven golds at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Ryan Lochte, pictured above, was third.

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