Changing China

Giant on the move

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Spare a thought for He in gymnastics row (Update)

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He KexinWhatever the results of the investigation into the date of birth of He Kexin, China’s double Olympic gold medallist, I hope we don’t lose sight of the fact that even in the event of any subterfuge the gymnast herself would not be the one to blame.

The International Olympic Committee has asked the gymnastics federation to check He’s date of birth of following claims that she might be under the minimum age to compete.

He herself was given a pretty rough ride by reporters during press conferences at these Games, with at least one journalist trying to catch her out by asking her what her star sign was.

She has also been asked to “prove” in a press conference that she really was 16. You can’t help wondering how she was supposed to do that.

A costly kick to the head

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A kick to the head

Cuba’s Angel Valodia Matos was banned for life from taekwondo on Saturday after he kicked the match referee in the head in his bronze medal bout.

Matos’s coach was also banned for the behaviour that the official said was in “strong violation of the spirit of taekwondo and the Olympic Games”.

Beijing’s favourite Olympic happy snap

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Holding the torchRemember those jolly tourist pictures you took of yourself in Italy where you were pretending to prop up the leaning tower of Pisa? Here’s the Beijing equivalent.

You stand in front of the Bird’s Nest stadium, hold up your hand and by a miracle of foreshortening appear to grip the vast cornetto-shaped torch burning on the roof of the athletics venue.

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.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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combo shot

Rickey Rogers writes: A combination photograph as Germans Christian Gille and Thomasz Wylenzek crash into a buoy after winning silver in the C2 1000 m final, gets the vote of Picture of the Day.

What seems like good fun as one team member drags another into the water, suddenly appears to be a real-life drama judging by their situation as they are saved by a rescue boat.

Is this the most fun you can have on two legs?

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Bolt fliesJamaica’s sprinters have pulled off a remarkable trick at the Beijing Games by making running look like the most enjoyable thing you can do standing up.

While speedsters from other nations have looked tense on the track at the Bird’s Nest, Usain Bolt and the women who swept the medals in the 100 metres have clearly been enjoying themselves.

A weird and wonderful water ballet

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synchronised swimming

When I told my editors I wanted to cover synchronised swimming at the Olympics they laughed. When I said it again they looked slightly embarrassed, like I was pushing a bad joke too far.

I had to ask several more times but I finally convinced them and two weeks later, I was watching two sequin-strewn contenders splash around in perfect union to an orchestral version of the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Heavy horse

This is one of those pictures that really makes you wish we had a caption competition.

Hang on a minute … Why don’t we have a caption competition just for once? No prizes, I’m afraid, but if you feel inspired send in your ideas in the comments. The serious caption we sent out with the pic is below, but I’m sure you can do better…

Too much, too young for Olympic gymnasts?

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Cheng FeiThe more I watch the women’s gymnastics competitions the more I’m torn between amazement at the athleticism on display and horror at what can seem at times like cruel and unusual punishment.

Most elite athletes put themselves through gruelling training regimes — not to mention the mental toll that the stress of competition must take — but few are quite so young as the women’s gymnasts

Chinese fans not shy in picking sides

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China fansChina had just lost to the U.S. but even though their team was out the crowd’s cheering, jeering, floor stomping and plastic stick drumming was just warming up on a 14-hour day of men’s volleyball play.

One match later, the Chinese fans were wildly rooting for Egypt over Russia.

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