Giant on the move
Liu Xiang’s quest to win a home Olympic gold ended before it had begun on Monday, as an injury prevented the 110 metre hurdler from starting his first heat.
China’s world and Olympic champion, the host nation’s best hope of an athletics gold medal at the Beijing Games, pulled up after a false start and walked off the track, stunning the huge crowd at the Bird’s Nest stadium into silence.
Liu’s preparations for the Olympics were hindered by a hamstring injury, and later an Achilles problem. It appeared to be a recurrence of the former injury on Monday as he grimaced in pain after leaving the blocks.
Along with basketball player Yao Ming, Liu is China’s favourite sportsman and there was a huge weight of expectation on him going into his home Games.
Yesterday I took a mean swipe at sports journalists for the vacuous questions they put to athletes. I must tip my baseball cap today, however, to the reporter who asked Usain Bolt how the fastest man in the world had spent his day.
It seems the Jamaican did a lot of time sleeping, and in between feasted on “nuggets”.
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.
As Usain Bolt coasted past my press seat in a burst of speed and swagger on Saturday night, splaying his arms and pumping his chest as he crossed the 100 metres finish line, it was just the buzz everyone had promised me from my first Olympics.
I was there to report on the atmosphere at the Games’ blue riband event, but involuntarily found myself screaming encouragement, then laughing in joy and awe. As he ran around the track in delighted celebration, I was close to tears.
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.”
I respect Paula Radcliffe for finishing the Olympic marathon, especially since she was clearly in agonising pain, but I don’t understand her decision to race in the first place.
The Olympics seem to be an excuse for thinking you can do anything to your body without paying a price. But there is a price and the problem is that athletes pay it once the cameras stop rolling.
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.
Picture of the day has to be the victory celebration of the fastest man on earth, Jamaican Usain Bolt, after winning Olympic gold at the 100 m sprint.
This picture was shot by London-based Reuters staff photographer Dylan Martinez and the composition is perfect.