Changing China

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Snapshot Beijing, 6: Michael Phelps wins eight golds

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Phelps in full flow

Michael Phelps trouncing his rivals is always something fantastic to see, and here in Beijing it took your breath away to watch him so often leave everyone else for dead.

But the races which stick most vividly in my mind are the two in which gold appeared to have escaped him.

First of those was the 4×100 freestyle relay. I thought the race was lost for the U.S. when Frenchman Alain Bernard turned for the last length nearly a second up. But Jason Lezak had other ideas and snatched victory with the swim of a lifetime. I’ll never forget the sight of Phelps roaring his joy and release.

Then there was Miroslav Cavic reaching for gold in the 100 fly, only for Phelps, charging through the faster, to swing his arms over, hit the wall first in that final lunge and win by just one hundredth of a second. I’d expected Phelps to catch him earlier but thought, at the death, he’d run out of time to do it.

Beijing 2008: Were these the best Games ever?

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Fireworks at the closing ceremony

The Beijing Olympic Games closed on Sunday, as China passed on the flame to London.

Former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch was in the habit of describing each Games as “the best ever”, with the notable exception of Atlanta in 1996.

Beijing podcast — day 16

Join us for the 16th and last podcast from the Beijing Olympics. We cast an eye back over the best moments of the Games, discuss Beijing’s world ranking and look ahead to quite a contrast with the next Olympics in London.

Julian Linden, Belinda Goldsmith, Nick Mulvenney and Robert F Woodward join me for the festivities. And Laura, that line at the start is really only a joke… 

Beijing podcast — day 10

I’m joined by Simon Evans, Julian Linden, Belinda Goldsmith and Ossian Shine for a short talk about the sport here in Beijing. Tune in to find out about china’s unluckiest man, the power of the yam and why Michael Phelps wouldn’t touch a dram.

A few technical gremlins delayed this but … better kate than trevor.

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.

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.

Beijing podcast — day eight

How exactly did Michael Phelps manage to win that race this morning?

What is the plunge for distance competition?

And how could we make archery a bit more exciting?

I’m joined by Julian Linden and Ossian Shine on our latest podcast from Beijing. Seven minutes is all it takes. Go on … you know you want to.

Day seven at the Games: Fabulous Phelps keeps focus on the pool

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Phelps divesMichael Phelps made it six golds in six races to edge closer to the record of Mark Spitz, while the three fastest men in the world whetted the appetites of 90,000 fans at the Bird’s Nest as swimming and athletics vied for attention on Friday.

Phelps was untroubled in the men’s 200 metres individual medley, moving to within one win of Spitz’s record from the 1972 Games.

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.

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