Changing China

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Beijing podcast — day six

What do all those athletes get up to in the Village once the competition is over?

Is Michael Phelps the most marketable athlete in the world?

And can Julian Linden speak a bit more clearly, please?

I’m joined by Julian, Mitch Phillips, Nick Mulvenney and Belinda Goldsmith to discuss the smouldering issues of the day.

Click here to listen to yesterday’s podcast and please feel free to leave your comments, criticisms and come-off-its below.

African athletes finding medals hard to come by

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Medal bitingOne by one, African athletes at the Beijing Olympics have fallen by the wayside, with most not going beyond preliminary rounds five days into the Games.

With the exception of Zimbabwe’s swimmer Kirsty Coventry, who has collected three silvers, Algeria’s Soraya Haddad and Egypt’s Hesham Mesbah, who won judo bronze meals, and Benjamin Boukpeti, who got bronze in men’s singles kayak slalom for Togo, there have been no Africans on the podium.

Day five at the Olympics

Michael Phelps cast a shadow over the Games once again on Wednesday as the man from Baltimore won two more gold medals, and set two more world records, to take his Beijing tally to five and make it 11 gold medals in his career.

What an athlete this man is. He is renowned as a cool customer, but we noted today that he did not entirely reject the idea that he is the world’s greatest Olympian. That’s a big debate, and one we’ve joined in lustily here at View from the Bird’s Nest, but no one would deny that he’s one of the greatest Olympians and I’m sure he’s about to put a lot more fuel on the fire when he goes for the remaining three golds open to him.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Phelps underwater

Gary Hershorn writes: Underwater photography is a tricky thing to get right but Germany-based photographer Wolfgang Rattay has perfected the art of making dramatic images from a most unusual angle.

Today’s photo of Michael Phelps winning his 10th all-time gold medal (the 11th came later) was perfect in its beauty and painting like feel. The image captured Phelps in the lead and on his way to gold.

Beijing podcast — day five

Where do athletes go after they’ve outgrown the pantheon?

Just who is the Marine Biologist from Baltimore?

And who was responsible for a piece of writing variously described as the worst piece of publishing ever, the worst article ever written and being based on a stupid premise?

Click play on the podcast above to find out the answers to all these questions and more, as I’m joined by Mitch Phillips, Padraic Halpin, Simon Evans and the world’s loudest Australian, Julian Linden.

Phelps is so good the rest have their sights on silver

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Phelps’s mother kisses her sonPoor Laszlo Cseh, the Hungarian who twice in these Games has finished second to Michael Phelps, was quite frank when asked by a reporter whether he had thought, during Wednesday’s 200m butterfly that he could actually beat Michael Phelps.

“It never even crossed my mind,” he said.

That should tell you everything about how much better Phelps is than his rivals — they know they are swimming for silver medal at best and that can’t be much fun.

Phantastic Mr Phelps (x2)

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Phelps rubs his eyes

Michael Phelps made light of goggle trouble to claim his fourth gold medal of the Games and then helped his American team win the 4 x 100 m freestyle and make it five wins from five, in fact five world records from five, at these Games.

He now has 11 Olympic gold medals, which puts clear blue water between him and four athletes who have won nine.

Day four at the Olympics

Michael Phelps made the headlines once again – most of them including the word “pantheon” — as he made it three gold medals and three world records from three finals so far.

The American now has nine career Olympic gold medals to his name and will almost certainly break the record he now shares with four other athletes when he swims in two finals tomorrow.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Natalie Coughlin

Gold medallist Natalie Coughlin (C) of the U.S. wipes away tears as she stands with silver medallist Kirsty Coventry (L) of Zimbabwe and bronze medallist Margaret Hoelzer (R) of the U.S. during the medal ceremony for the women’s 100 meters backstroke swimming final during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 12, 2008. REUTERS/David Gray

Gary Hershorn writes: Emotions run high at the Olympics so it is always nice to see an athlete let loose and cry upon winning or receiving their gold medal. U.S. swimmer Natalie Coughlin cried on the victory podium and then again on the pool deck as she stood in front of photographers completely unable to contain her emotions. This never fails to produce a strong emotional photo.

A Cubist magic trick

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The water cube

After years of seeing just a hole in the ground, then a mess of construction cranes, then mysterious activity going on behind barrier walls, yesterday I finally got to enter the Water Cube.

There’s no doubt that it’s impressive from the outside. The rectangular building is known for its transluscent facade that evokes giant soap bubbles and at night the whole thing glows in hues of blue, a warm beacon on the otherwise grey and beige horizon of Beijing.

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