Changing China

Giant on the move

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Step away from the crisps, sir

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Presidents Bush and China Foreign Minister Yang JiechiYou don’t often wonder, in all seriousness, whether opening a packet of crisps will result in instant death.

But there I was, not 10 metres from President George W. Bush, his father, former President George H.W. Bush and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger covering the blockbuster United States v China Olympic men’s basketball game.

I was struggling mightily with a packet of crisps (“potato flavour” no less!). It simply wouldn’t open and I feared a Del Boy moment, where the packet bursts suddenly and the crisps fly everywhere, in this case over news agency reporters from Xinhua, AP and AFP just below me on the press tribune.

It was at this moment that a Reuters technician usefully informed me that if the offending bag were to burst with a loud bang, I could get shot.

Who is the greatest Olympian? Clue: it’s not Michael Phelps

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Phelps with his third Beijing goldMichael Phelps is a phenomenal swimmer, possibly the best in history, and if he achieves his target of eight gold medals in Beijing, for an overall tally of 14 (10 of them individual) there is no doubt that he deserves his place in the pantheon.

But the greatest-ever Olympian? That is a big call.

There is no denying that it is tough to win an Olympic swimming gold but, once you reach that standard, there are plenty to harvest. Many of the top swimmers seem capable of racing over 100 metres, 200, 400, often in a variety of strokes, plus the medley, and also seemingly have relays for just about every distance.

You see what you want to see…

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Facts may be facts.

But putting meaning to those facts can be very tricky.

The fact is, China’s People’s Armed Police parked an armoured personnel carrier outside the main press centre of the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday.

The fact is, photographers and videocameramen swarmed the vehicle taking images that will travel the world. These pictures were all taken by Reuters Reinhard Krause.

Phelps three in three, joins Olympic elite

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PhelpsThere was never any doubt about this one. Michael Phelps won the 200m freestyle, secured his third gold medal of these Games — his third world record, too — and become only the fifth athlete to win nine gold medals at the Summer Olympics.

He joins fellow Americans Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis, Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi and Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina at the top of the all-time list of gold medal winners.

Day three at the Olympics

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It’s a case of two down, six to go for Michael Phelps after the American swimmer got by with a little help from his friends in the 4x100m freestyle on Monday.

Watching Jason Lezak come from half a length behind on the final leg to seal victory for the U.S. was astonishing, as he kept Phelps in with a shout of his record-breaking haul of eight golds. That was a truly memorable Olympic moment.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Michael Phelps

Gary Hershorn writes: With Michael Phelps being arguably the biggest story of the Olympics his celebration jumped off the screen after the U.S won an amazingly close race by a fraction of a second over France.

The US had been losing throughout but pulled off victory in the last inch of the race. Phelps’s bid for eight gold medals was saved and his celebration looked completely real.

Beautiful, baffling and bewildering

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rtr20x4z_comp1.jpgSo maybe my next job isn’t fencing correspondent

I’ll admit that I’m not a professional sports journalist, but I like to think of myself as a decent amateur watcher of sport.

As an American living in London, I’ve even fallen deeply in love with cricket. Fencing, however, foxes me completely.

Beijing podcast — day three

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I’m joined today by Mitch Phillips, Julian Linden and Padraic Halpin for a chat about Michael Phelps and the rest of the action on a fantastic morning in Beijing. Please forgive the long and winding intro…

Click here for day two’s podcast.

Souvenir problem licked for Beijing athletes

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Athletes at this year’s Olympics are being offered the ultimate souvenir — personalised Beijing 2008 postage stamps with their own faces on them.

The stamps are guaranteed to bring a smile to relatives’ faces back home, although you’ll need six of them for a foreign-bound postcard. Post office employees in the athletes’ village say coaches and officials are snapping them up as fast as a 100m sprinter.

A Ronaldinho revival? Don’t speak too soon

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Ronaldinho scoresRonaldinho’s two-goal performance against New Zealand in Sunday’s Olympic Games has already been hailed as some sort of revival after his miserable last season with Barcelona.

The former World Player of the Year showed flashes of his best form in the 5-0 win with plenty of cheeky flicks, shimmies and stepovers. And, of course, he grinned.

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