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 13

Was the IOC right to criticise Usain Bolt? What is the most dangerous sport at the Games? And what’s the worst horse joke you could possibly imagine?

Tune in to the latest podcast as I’m joined by Julian Linden, Simon Evans, Ossian Shine and Paul Majendie for a figurative stroll around the Olympic green. 

Beijing podcast — day 12

Tune in to the unfortunately timed day 12 podcast from Beijing, recorded shortly before Usain Bolt’s crack at the 200 metres, to learn about:

The alternative alternative Olympics medals table

The great gold medal con trick

The ping pong bong

Who could resist? It’s eight minutes of nonsense, with an old joke at the end, and features Julian Linden, Belinda Goldsmith, Padraic Halpin, Karolos Grohmann and me.

Beijing podcast — day 11

Tune in to the latest podcast hear about Yelena Isinbaeva’s pole vault magic, open water swimming’s dirty little secret and why you should never let an Australian come home with souvenirs for the kids.

I’m joined by Julian Linden, Belinda Goldsmith, Simon Evans and John “David Gedge” Chalmers for seven minutes of sunshine from grey Beijing. Enjoy…

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.”

Steffen conquers fear of winning

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Steffen celebrates sprint doubleBritta Steffen had hardly dried off after completing the freestyle sprint double when she started thanking her psychologist, Frederike Janofsky.

“I’m happy that hard work in training and working with the mental trainer paid off,” she said. “It was all in the mind. I didn’t expect it. To win here again is fantastic.”

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