Changing China

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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.

Original caption: Michael Phelps (C) of the U.S. swims to a world record and gold medal next to Nikolay Skvortsov (R) of Russia and Takeshi Matsuda (L) of Japan in the men’s 200 meters butterfly final at the National Aquatics Center during the Beijing 2008 Olympics August 13, 2008. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Gary Hershorn is news Editor, Reuters Pictures, America. For a selection of other great Reuters pix from the Games click here. For the previous day’s chosen picture click here.

Beijing podcast — day five

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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.

Olympics has an Audrey Hepburn moment

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Rings in the ceremonyFirst it was the fireworks (see below). Now it turns out the opening ceremony to the Beijing Games had its very own Audrey Hepburn moment.

Nine-year-old Lin Miaoke, who was celebrated across China as the angelic voice with the adorable face who sang “Ode to the Motherland” at Friday’s ceremony, was merely a photogenic stand-in for the real singer, who was rejected because of her appearance.

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.

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.

Just who is “Second Brother on the Right”?

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Second brother on the planeHis picture is all over Chinese Web sites and media. He has multiple proposals of marriage. And he became an overnight nationalist hero. But just who is China’s anonymous “Second Brother on the Right”?

The young man with classic good looks guarded the Olympic flame during its protest-ridden passage round the world. His prominent position (always standing second to the right of the flame) wrestling demonstrators and standing proudly next to the torch has brought him fame across China. 

Argentina to play Siberia as Batista gets lost in translation

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Argentine journalists were startled to learn that their team would be playing a match against Siberia at the Olympic football tournament. At least, that is what the official translation said.

Coach Sergio Batista, speaking ahead of a game against Serbia, looked on it utter bewilderment as one interpreter attempted to translate his answers from Spanish into Chinese and another then tried to translate the Chinese version of his answer into English.

Beijing podcast — day four

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Is Michael Phelps the greatest Olympian of all time? If so, shouldn’t he have a decent nickname by now? And what exactly is this “pantheon” everyone’s talking about?

I’m joined by Julian Linden, Mitch Phillips and Simon Evans for some more knockabout fun on our short but sweet podcast from Beijing. Please check it out and feel free to let us know what you think in the comments. We could use the feedback, frankly.

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