Changing China

Giant on the move

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Whatever happened to culinary diplomacy?

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sea horsesThere are 21,600 reporters covering the Olympic Games, the vast majority from outside China, and a lot of them will be going home with a nasty taste in their mouths.

Al Himmer and Erik Kirschbaum blogged about their experience of crash-dieting during the Olympics, with most of the venues offering only cookies and bananas for reporters putting in 10 or 12 or 14 hours covering a sport.

Inside the Main Press Centre, there is plenty of food to be had. It’s not going to win any gourmet awards but the turkey on whole wheat is just fine and it’s hard to go wrong with a salad bar.

Sadly, it’s the Chinese food that is the real letdown.

Beijing is a city in which any given alley offers everything from noodle soups to savoury pancakes to fresh hot soy milk, and it is difficult to forgive Olympic caterers for reducing a culinary culture so rich and varied to a mushy blandness.

Three golds, three world records

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Relay goldOK, it’s not Michael Phelps territory, but Usain Bolt clinched his third gold medal and third world record from three events when Jamaica won the 4x100m relay on Friday.

Bolt teamed up with Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Asafa Powell to clock a time of 37.10 seconds and take 0.30 seconds off the 15-year-old record set by the United States at the 1993 world championships.

Beijing podcast — day 14

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Join us for an eight-minute whirl around the Games, taking in baton bungling from the relay favourites, the joys of synchronised swimming and the upcoming closing ceremony. Find out why:

1. The Brits were in a Monty Python training camp

2. Tyson Gay is not a happy man

3. David Beckham may become the first footballer in space

I’m joined by Julian Linden, Simon Evans, Paul Majendie and the debut-making Robert Woodward. Go on, dip a toe in. 

Is this the most fun you can have on two legs?

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Bolt fliesJamaica’s sprinters have pulled off a remarkable trick at the Beijing Games by making running look like the most enjoyable thing you can do standing up.

While speedsters from other nations have looked tense on the track at the Bird’s Nest, Usain Bolt and the women who swept the medals in the 100 metres have clearly been enjoying themselves.

A weird and wonderful water ballet

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synchronised swimming

When I told my editors I wanted to cover synchronised swimming at the Olympics they laughed. When I said it again they looked slightly embarrassed, like I was pushing a bad joke too far.

I had to ask several more times but I finally convinced them and two weeks later, I was watching two sequin-strewn contenders splash around in perfect union to an orchestral version of the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black.

Beijing Games: picture of the day

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Heavy horse

This is one of those pictures that really makes you wish we had a caption competition.

Hang on a minute … Why don’t we have a caption competition just for once? No prizes, I’m afraid, but if you feel inspired send in your ideas in the comments. The serious caption we sent out with the pic is below, but I’m sure you can do better…

Clean sweep in the sprints — it’s the Jamaica Olympics

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Vampbell-Brown celebrates clean sweep

Congratulations to Jamaica for completing a clean sweep in the men’s and women’s sprints at the Beijing Games on Thursday.

Veronica Campbell-Brown surged to 200 metres victory on Thursday, making it four golds from the four individual events and shutting out the U.S. for the first time since they boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980.

Too much, too young for Olympic gymnasts?

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Cheng FeiThe more I watch the women’s gymnastics competitions the more I’m torn between amazement at the athleticism on display and horror at what can seem at times like cruel and unusual punishment.

Most elite athletes put themselves through gruelling training regimes — not to mention the mental toll that the stress of competition must take — but few are quite so young as the women’s gymnasts

Relay bad mistakes from United States, Britain

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Gay misses outOn another miserable day for Tyson Gay, the United States failed to make it to the final of the 4×100 metres relay after their latest case of baton bungling.

Britain, the defending Olympic champions, followed them out of the event when a messed up changeover led to their disqualification from a later heat.

Chinese fans not shy in picking sides

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China fansChina had just lost to the U.S. but even though their team was out the crowd’s cheering, jeering, floor stomping and plastic stick drumming was just warming up on a 14-hour day of men’s volleyball play.

One match later, the Chinese fans were wildly rooting for Egypt over Russia.

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