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During the last Olympics in Athens, I took an evening away from reporting the action and experienced the Games as a spectator.

I left my media pass behind, bought a ticket to watch the athletics and went into the main Olympic Stadium.

And I was appalled by the terrible food available to fans.

Continue reading "Food for thought"


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When did sprinters ever get so modest?

I still remember the day Maurice Greene pulled up the sleeve of his t-shirt to reveal his new tattoo - a lion with the letters G.O.A.T etched into its mane. G.O.A.T. stood for 'greatest of all time'.

The lion? "Because the lion's the king of the jungle, and I'm the king of the track".

His self-penned nickname was PhenoMonal, his registration plate MO GOLD.

So when Tyson Gay, Greene's heir as US 100m record-holder, tells the world's media that he deals with his pre-race nerves by calling his mother, the initial reaction is one of shock.

Gay might just be the most self-effacing American sprinter of all time.

Continue reading "Gay removes flash from 100m dash"



Beijing's Olympic Green Tennis Centre

There were perhaps 200 people watching the first-round match between Andy Murray and Lu Yen-Hsun of Chinese Taipei (that's "made in Taiwan" to you and me but not the IOC and certainly not our hosts) on Monday, and, to be honest, I have no idea why any of them were there.

OK, I can guess why Judy Murray was there - she was probably killing time before her elder son Jamie had his big moment in the doubles tournament.

Lu seemed to be enjoying himself too but then he had only won seven of his 19 previous matches in 2008.

But the rest of us? Murray the younger was clearly experiencing the same confusion.

Continue reading "Move over Murray, these Games ain't for you"



Beijing, Water Cube

There is no doubt that Tom Daley and Blake Aldridge were well below their best today, finishing last of the eight pairs in the 10m synchronised diving final.

It was frustrating because their aerial work and synchronisation was fantastic but they were both off with their entries into the water. You saw the Chinese and Russian pairs going in with hardly any splash, while our boys weren't upright and throwing up lots of splash. That meant they were penalised heavily by the judges and they were quite a way off the pace in the end.

Nerves played their part. It's a big occasion and Tom and Blake are at their first Olympics. The other teams in the final had a lot more experience and that shone through.

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There has been a massive amount of attention on Tom but I don't think that had any influence on the way he performed today. In the past few days, the team around him - including me as his mentor - have tried to protect him. In fact, I ended up doing a lot of interviews for the media so he didn't have to.

Continue reading "Welcome to the real world, Tom!"



''This is not a dressage competition.''

Those words, said to me on Monday by Team GB's William Fox-Pitt were ringing in my ears all morning as I reported from the cross country phase of the Olympic eventing competition.

Not only did Fox-Pitt greatly improve his own individual standing after a superb round, but many others who'd struggled in the dressage also found themselves rising up the order as several big names came to grief.

Continue reading "The thrill of the cross-country chase"



Michael Johnson once made me cry.

It was 1 August 1996 when he crossed the Olympic finishing line having set a new world record for the 200 metres in Atlanta.

It was either whoop with delight or cry in astonishment, and I'm not ashamed to admit his earth shattering achievement, setting a record which still stands today, elicited a salty eyed response.

I couldn't believe what I'd just seen and I felt privileged to have witnessed it. Those golden shoes, that upright stance, those short steps and his squatting by the trackside clock are all images that will live with me forever.

My Games is now giving you a unique opportunity to talk with Johnson.

Continue reading "Your chance to talk to Michael Johnson"



"We will smash them up!" France's Alain Bernard boasted on Sunday after the heats of the men's 4x100m freestyle relay.

He had reason to be confident as he didn't even have to don his suit for the heats after substitute Boris Steimetz had taken care of his responsibilities in a time of 49.83 seconds.

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When you consider world-record holder Bernard can go two seconds faster from a flat start, everybody knew the French had a three-second drop in the bag, putting them on course for a world record by at least two seconds.

So, after seeing the performance of the French, America's Michael Phelps must have been worried about the chance of winning eight gold medals slipping away.

We have learnt to have confidence in all the victories under his control but the relays still remain vulnerable. Would his team-mates keep his dream alive?

Continue reading "Phelps on course after greatest relay race in history"



The water squelched through my toes and ran off the end of my nose as I leant over the barrier and strained to see the finish line 50 metres up the road.

For almost six hours we had stoically shivered under some of the most torrential rain I have ever experienced, waiting to see if Nicole Cooke could finally achieve her Olympic dream.

What a contrast to four years ago in Athens when the temperatures soared into the high 30s and Nicole found herself isolated among the dominant road racing nations who conspired to deny the Welsh cyclist a place on the podium.

That wouldn't happen in Beijing as Great Britain fielded one of the strongest teams on the start line with Emma Pooley and Sharon Laws joining Cooke to mount an heroic bid for glory.

Continue reading "Cooke victory worth the wait"


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