Changing China

Giant on the move

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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.

Story of the day: Blind archer targets fuzzy yellow, gold

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Legally blind archer

Peter Rutherford had an interview today with South Korean archer Im Dong-hyun, who has already won one gold medal at these Games and is favourite for the individual title despite being legally blind.

Im’s eyesight is listed at 20/200 by the Korea Archery Federation, which basically means he can see at 20 feet what a person with perfect vision can see at 200 feet.

Look away if you’re squeamish

elbow injury

If you’re in any way squeamish, look away before you’ve spotted what is wrong!

Russell Boyce writes: Officials gather round a young man who has a distressed look in his face. Parental looking figures try to help. What is the matter, the mind asks? The eye is drawn from the distressed face to the hand that is being held … no, that looks OK. Then the eye is led along to the elbow. Oh no … elbows shouldn’t bend that way!

The bin-scavenging Olympics

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food courtListening to journalists bellyache about how tough life is at the Games gets old pretty quickly, but there is one genuinely frustrating aspect of the Beijing media beat — finding something to eat.

The Main Press Centre has a cavernous dining area with food from around the world but reporters out at the venues are typing to the sound of rumbling stomachs — with nothing more than a few nuts and berries available anywhere near the stadiums.

If Michael Phelps were to declare independence

This is a long shot, I know, but if Michael Phelps suddenly decided to break away from the United States and declare himself a sovereign nation, he’d currently be joint-fourth in the medals table at the Olympics — level with the U.S.

A glance to the right of this blog will show China leading with 20 golds and the U.S. second on 10. Phelps has won, or helped win five of those and with three more in his sights over the last few days of the swimming he could take his personal tally to eight.

It ain’t Confucius’s China any more…

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He knew it the second he landed.

Gymnast Yang Wei knew that mathematically, emotionally, historically and rightfully the men’s all-around Olympic title was his – and the overwhelmingly partisan home-town crowd knew it too.

There was no need for Yang or for his supporters to wait the seemingly interminable minutes for the judges to review his performance on the horizontal bar – as the final participant in the sixth and final rotation of the championship, his lead was so strong that it would have taken a disaster to knock him out of first.

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.

Hop on the Olympics-mobile

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pinheadOne of the more entertaining things about these Olympics for me has been seeing Chinese people of all ages and backgrounds find their own ways of expressing enthusiasm for the Games.

Some have bordered on the bizarre.

One man stuck a couple of hundred mini flagpoles in his head to show his support. Another guy I saw walked down the sidewalk in front of the Bird’s Nest, in a red dress and high heels, with a crown crafted out of palm leaves on his head and a big Chinese flag draped over each shoulder (wish I’d had a camera with me!).

Welcome to the Stretchy Pants Olympics

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WrestlersAnd now, live from Las Vegas, NBC Live Sports is proud to present: Saturday Night Badminton!

No? How about Saturday Night Fencing? Or maybe: Welcome to The Kayak Bowl!

The big U.S. broadcaster is paying a fortune to televise minority sports such as these from the Beijing Olympics, but don’t expect it to remake its fall TV sports schedule, no matter how many Golds Americans win at them.

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.

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