Changing China

Giant on the move

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Swifter, higher, stronger than me


Posing in front of the ringsWhere else in the world could you spot a Bhutanese archer, a chunky weightlifter from a tiny South Pacific island and a freckled Ukrainian table-tennis champ within one enclosed space?

Journalism takes you to some strange locations, but the athletes’ village at the Olympic Games has to be one of the most bizarre places on earth.

Like a futuristic zoo of superhumans, everywhere you turn inside the Beijing compound there are impossibly tall and toned creatures of every hue, striding by in small clusters marked by their matching tracksuit colours.

As they flow by, spouting a cacophony of languages, I spin around, Alice-in-Wonderland style, trying to pick out the countries (Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Barbados, Indonesia) and feel like I’m in some high-speed geography test.