At some time, in some place, there is always a story.

As the Olympic action wound down on Sunday it was at the National Indoor Stadium, where the Iceland handball team had just lost to France in the men's final.

The Icelanders got a bit of a pasting in the end but their fans didn't mind.

It was still their best Olympic performance since 1956 (when they won a triple-jump silver).

iceland438.jpgSome of the country's 300,000-or-so inhabitants had been given the day off to watch their semi-final against Spain, and their surprise win sparked delight in the capital Reykjavik. Cinemas in Iceland were even showing the game for free.

Bergur Ingi Petursson, one of Iceland's Olympic hammer throwers (6ft 3ins/20 stone) was one of the Icelanders in the stadium on Sunday for the final, one of the very last on this year's Olympics schedule.

"The whole Iceland Olympic team is here supporting," he said. "Back home, everything will have stopped while everyone is watching this."

There are really 205 different Olympic Games every four years - one from the perspective of every country taking part.

And sometimes, even in medal-rich countries, it is the stories of disappointment or failure which really resonate.

Even in China, where they've broken the magic three-figure mark for total medals and amassed a gleaming hoard of 51 golds, it's a woman who blew her first chance at a gong who stole the country's hearts.

Du Li, a young shooter from a poor family in Shandong province, was supposed to be all set to win China's first gold of the Games in the 10m air rifle final.

But she let her nerves get to her, finished fifth and broke down in tears, later apologising for letting her fellow Chinese down.

National broadcaster CCTV was inundated with letters, emails, texts and phone calls from members of the public wishing to pass on their commiserations - and support - for Du.

Qian Jiang, TV reporter for CCTV said: "We were overwhelmed by the response from the public.

"When she cried we all cried. We felt we had put too much on pressure on her."

Redemption was complete a few days later, when Du had another chance in the 50m event, and this time she took gold - thanking the outpouring of support for her comeback.

mitcham438.jpgAnd even in win-at-all-costs Australia, one of the stories which has resonated the most, apart from diver Matthew Mitcham who broke up the Chinese clean sweep when he registered four perfect 10s and a 9.5 to total 112.10 in the final, is that of a girl who took silver.

"She came second but in the eyes of Australia she's a winner," read one headline after Sally McLellan's gutsy finish in the 100m hurdles.

As the runaway leader and favourite fell at the second last hurdle, American Dawn Harper, McLellan and Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schliep came through to steal a surprise 1,2,3.

"Just keep going, keep going, keep going," was McLellan's quote afterwards.

Stuart Wallace from 7 News Australia said: "Her interview in the mixed zone afterwards was one of the most refreshing pieces of sports interviewing I've ever seen. She was such a breath of fresh air. We had a lot of fun with that story."

I was in the press conference and the three medallists sat there like kids, giggling in wonder at their luck.

In Sweden, where they failed to win a gold medal, the public have had to make do with the exploits of table tennis player Jorgen Persson, at 42 one of the oldest competitors in the Games.

Persson, the 1991 world champion, looked like he might emulate the great Jan-Ove Waldner, who won singles gold in the 1980s and reached the Athens semis aged 39. (Persson lost both his semi and his bronze medal play off - but kept the Swedes entertained).

The other story which hit home with Swedes was that of Ara Abrahamian.

The world of Greco-roman wrestling was rocked when Abrahamian threw his bronze medal away because he was so disgusted having been denied a place in the gold medal bout by a controversial refereeing decision (one of several in several sports at this Games).


"All of Sweden supported him," said Swedish reporter Tobias Osterberg.

Hazel Irvine, who has presented more than 100 hours of live action from Beijing's Ling Long pagoda, and watched even more of it after her shifts were over, says it is the ability to get this unique global perspective of sport around the world which make the Olympics.

"While it has obviously been so successful for Team GB, I also love some of the stories that have come out of the other 200+ countries here," she explains.

"Rohullah Nikpai winning bronze for Afghanistan, their first Olympic medal, was a real highlight - the country's president has even given him a house and a car.

"It is important to remember there are places in the world suffering a lot of pain - and that's the power of sport. It does not solve problems - but it can make you feel better."

Germany's hearts were won by super-heavyweight weightlifter Matthias Steiner.

Steiner competed in Athens for his native Austria, then fell out with the Austrian Weightlifting Federation and decided to apply for German citizenship. For three years while he waited he couldn't compete.

Last summer, just before his citizenship came through, his wife Susann was killed in a car crash.


She had planned to come to Beijing with him. He won by a kilogram with his final lift and carried a photo of her as he stood on the medal podium.

IOC head Jacques Rogge's favourite Olympic story was that of Matthew Emmons, the shooter who blew his chance of a medal for the second Olympics running.

Four years ago he shot at the wrong target to register no score and throw away certain gold, but picked up a consolation prize in the form of a new wife, who met him while consoling him on his disappointment.

This time around he needed a seven - got the shakes and only managed a four.

"What moved me most was the attitude of this man, the attitude to say this is a big failure, I take responsibility but I will come back and I will win gold," said Rogge.

"The Games is not only about winning, it's about the struggle of everyday athletes to reach his or her own limits."

The story which really tickled the French was that of brothers Steve and Christophe Guenot, who took gold and bronze in the wrestling.

The father, mother, uncle are all wrestlers. They practice by fighting each other apparently.

There are many more stories of countries achieving new Olympic bests -
Bahrain winning its first ever gold medal through Rashid Ramzi in the 1500m, Togo winning a first Olympic medal - in canoe slalom - and Tunisia winning its first gold since 1968 when Oussama Mellouli took the 1500m freestyle.

But one of my favourite stories of the Olympics comes from Italy, via Cuba, and does not involve a medal of any colour.

It is that of Taismary Aguero.

Aguero defected from Cuba (with whom she won two golds) in 2001 while the team was at a tournament in Switzerland. She sought political asylum in Italy, where she later married Allesio Botteghi, an Italian physiotherapist who works with volleyball teams, which led to her citizenship and allowed her to compete for the Italian volleyball team.

Marco Del Corone, of Corriere della Sera, explained: "Her father died while she was living in Italy then her mother fell ill, so she tried to get back to Cuba to see her mother.

"They would not grant her a visa but in the end she got one - but then on the plane home she got a text to say her mother had died.

"So she switched planes to meet up with her team-mates and got to Beijing in time to play at the Olympics."

Oh, and the team lost in the quarter-final against the USA. What's that again about the taking part?

Claire Stocks is the BBC's interactive editor for Olympic sports. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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  • 1. At 7:25pm on 24 Aug 2008, mariahelga wrote:

    It was France, actually, who narrowly defeated Croatia in the men's handball semifinals, 25-23. Iceland beat Spain quite soundly in a big upset, 36-30.

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  • 2. At 7:41pm on 24 Aug 2008, BinHos wrote:


    IOC President Jacques Rogge criticized Jamaican Sprinter Usman Bolt on Thursday, for showing a lack of respect to other competitors after his record breaking Gold medal performances in 100 and 200 meters.

    [1] Usman Bolt behaved in exhilaration, as have other European and US sportsmen.

    [2] Jamaica scotches doping talk after track success ~ even after many repeated
    Dope Tests ? Come on GUYS…accusations SHAMEFULLY STINK .

    [3] The IOC has asked the International Gymnastics Federation to investigate after
    Discrepancies came to light regarding He Kexin’s age.

    Since when did looks reign over facts ? Can't it be said by the Chinese, Jamaicans in the same vein ? that some Honorable Officials of World Bodies ; and some hitherto unheard of Computer Security Agent making comments like poor losers, to possibly look like SENILE and UNSPORTING whiners ? Chinese officials responded immediately by providing the newspaper with a passport copy indicating He had been born on January 1, 1992,
    " but still doubts lingered, not least because the athlete looks barely past puberty " The Reporter or Complainant may look like to me, as SENILE, IMBECILE, and a LUNATIC… But …. I WILL NOT BE SO SHAMELESS TO THINK SO, LEAST OF ALL SAY SO, LEST the WORLD sees me as a CHEAPO.

    In Cricket too, THE HONOURABLE Senior Officials have exposed their waning credibility of governing World cricket...and have succumbed to the awesome credibility of Asia ?
    or, ARE SOME AFFLICTED BY J A U N D I C E ? Mr. Rogge ?

    The GLORIOUS OLYMPICS IN CHINA has out shadowed all the previous Olympics from it's inception, acknowledged by the MEDIA, and EXPERTS, in all respects , GRANDEOUR, TECHNOLOGICAL EXCELLENCE, HOSPITALITY , enough said.

    Sports Performances and Medals Tally, are historic evidence of, and also speak volumes of the gradual …..

    BEGINNING OF near-relegation of the WESTERN WORLD INTO THE SUNSET and DUSK of T I M E , against the ONSLAUGHT OF the BLAZING and SCORCHING SUN RISE OF A S I A and the E A S T - C H I N A.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

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  • 3. At 7:49pm on 24 Aug 2008, smellslikesalmon wrote:

    #2 - thanks for that comment in the 'spirit' of the Olympic games.

    I'm glad Asia is developing and that it's citizens are happier than they were. But before you talk about the West whimpering and collapsing perhaps you should remember how people like you accused the 'West' of arrogance when it was on 'top' - do you want to demonstrate that you're better at arrogance too?

    The whole world faces challenges, not just the West. What happens when climate change turns off the Indian monsoon, or when China's expanding deserts reach Beijing?

    I'd like to think that the whole world can progress without it being one region vs another. Sadly it seems unlikely given these sort of sentiments.

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  • 4. At 9:08pm on 24 Aug 2008, kingslandroar wrote:

    Any chance of a medal table withouth the Chinese 'medals' in the 'judging' events? Might give a more realistic impression of the host countries true performance.

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  • 5. At 9:50pm on 24 Aug 2008, eirebilly wrote:


    Agree totally, The Ken Egan decision today was a sad represenation of favouritism.
    To name just 1

    Lets see a realistic view.

    Hope its not the same a GB 2012

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  • 6. At 9:53pm on 24 Aug 2008, kenLondon wrote:


    Did you actually watch any competition?

    It’s to do with hard work, dedication and commitment, that’s how those athletes got the gold.

    So keep you’re your ignorant accusations to yourself and actually write some thing worthwhile and not waste everybody else’s time.

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  • 7. At 9:57pm on 24 Aug 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    Maybe i am a bitter Irishman but i have never seen such favouritism since Sth Korea.
    China did a great job with the Olympics and i dont blame their Athletes for claiming Gold medals but i do dissaproove of the blatant favouritism in the decisions and i dont think that i am the only 1.

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  • 8. At 10:30pm on 24 Aug 2008, chronise wrote:


    I think it is also good to count out some stupid games, such as cycling and sailing to see how many gold medals the team GB still has.

    You should learn how to respect and appreciate the efforts that athletes, judges and the host have spent.

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  • 9. At 10:43pm on 24 Aug 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    Chronise and KenLondon; Nobody is disrespecting the Chinese athletes, they did the best that they can, what is being questioned is the way that quite a few medals appeared to be handed to the Chinese (home ground decisions) that were clearly incorrect. Nothing else.

    Fair play to the Chinese for organising a great Olympics and they are desrved winners but some decisions were very biased.

    That said they were still the performing country but can you both disrespute the unhappiness of several countries over the decisions that went against them to enable China to get such a medal tally??

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  • 10. At 10:57pm on 24 Aug 2008, chronise wrote:


    Could you point out the exact name of the game that is unfair?

    You should look at the over turned in Taekwondo.

    The Chinese team accept the reverse result which is not allow to be reversed according to the Taekwondo.

    This is a kind of sportsmanship, isn't it?

    The human errors cannot be eliminated in current scoring system, this is a part of the sport.

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  • 11. At 11:08pm on 24 Aug 2008, Corvus4u wrote:

    And you expected anything less? ha-ha
    The comments from Chinese are the most interesting part of the Olympics, though not for the reasons most would assume.
    The Chinese nation's leadership has barely budged from its policies. It largely ignored criticism of its human rights record and continued its repression of free speech. Its harsh rule in Tibet has been downplayed, political dissidents locked up, beggars pushed out of Beijing and journalists covering protests roughed-up. It did not grant a single protest permit. It serves the government for China's people to forget about the excesses of Mao's Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. The games' lavish opening ceremony, vetted by party leaders, barely touched on communism and the tumultuous decades after the Communist Party came to power in 1949. The ceremony focused on China's ancient culture — Confucius was quoted, Mao was not. 2,000 years ago is more important than 20 years ago for the government of China but not the free world.
    The above was very good PR, the best the government could do, however the free world has not forgotten Chinas recent past as it is the same government in power. The free world knows the recent and ancient history of Chinas actions against its people and surrounding areas and does not like the recent ones. It may have not stopped China from taking over Tibet but it knows the true history of both countries and what China did in the takeover. That China insists on telling the free world a different story may be believed in China [survival in a non free country depends on not going against the government] but the free world has recorded Tibet’s history as it happened over the centuries, not as the PPC wants it to have happened. The free world does not like Chinas actions there nor does the free world like [or believe] the Chinese governments lies.
    However, Beijing also has another audience to please, that of the millions of Chinese who have benefited from the economic boom through growing personal wealth and greater access to the outside world via limited television and the censored Internet that has occurred over the recent 20 years. It is in the interest of these new wealthy [relatively speaking] people to support the government and forget the governments recent past. A past that they either were a victim of by losing loved ones to the government madness and 10’s of millions did or they were one of the millions of participants [either acting voluntary for their own profit or under duress] of in the madness that the free world watched despite the great attempts of the Chinese government to conceal and lie to the free world. What happened is known, not the details but the overall figures, patterns and most damningly the government sponsorship. Until the government comes clean to the free world the free world will have concern and little respect for Chinas government. The Chinese people are seen as victims in the horrible events perpetrated upon them the same was as the free world sees the German population as victims of Hitler and the Japanese population as victims.
    Just to be fair the free world has not forgotten what Japan did during WWII and the fact they do not teach their role in their schools or what Germany did who do teach their children what they did. China is in the eyes of the world in the same boat and doing nothing to change. Actually Chinas boat has sunk because the same government is in control. Any country that does not recognize this does so at their long term survival. That is a historical fact. And, most of all, the people of the free world do not really care what the people in China are saying because they are saying [in the only press allowed that is government controlled or the censored internet] what the government is telling them to say. Some are actually employed by the government and of course they will not admit who their employer is. The Chinese government has been proved to be responsible for internet attacks on sites they do not like around the world, they block sites they do not like, and could not even live up to their commitment of a free net for the games with out relying on double speak worthy of Orwell’s ‘1984’.
    NOR, [caps intended to shout this] does the free world have clean hands, but the free world knows what it has done, admits its past mistakes, and at least attempts not to repeat them. This is singly lacking in China and until China admits its past mistakes it will always be perceived as a brutal dangerous dictatorship with communist leanings.
    It is in the hands of the Chinese to alter this perception and not the role of the free world to believe what the current Chinese government want the free world to believe, there is too much blood of their countrymen [and women] on them.
    Finally the free world has freedom, something people of a non free country can not understand, if they do, their lives are short and brutal. The long term outlook for freedom in the world is not known, there is as much data showing that freedom will not survive or dominate as data showing that it will. Only the free know this, controlled people do not because they are being controlled.
    I am sad to say the above because I value freedom over everything and the world is going into a very difficult time as it will run short of energy very soon and non free countries are easer to direct into war. The recent US invasion into Iraq shows this to be true. Freedom is a relative word known more by people who are freere than people who are less free.
    That said, the comments to these blogs from Chinese, is the most interesting part of the internet freedom now temporally available to mainland Chinese, taken as a whole it reaffirms my opinion of China, sad to say.
    Enjoy your net freedom while it lasts because it will be short lived.

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  • 12. At 11:12pm on 24 Aug 2008, rgh1066 wrote:

    Great article. You should send a copy to Mihir Bose! I shall try to remember some of your examples next time I have to listen to some ignoramus claiming that all that counts is the winning.

    Zhu he nin, Zhongguo. Gen Sydney 2000, zui hao bisai!

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  • 13. At 11:15pm on 24 Aug 2008, eirebilly wrote:


    A grand master can overturn a decision in Taekwondo (even in the Olympics) so that decision had to be accepted based on the traditional rules and accepted by all parties.

    Just in boxing, Paddy lost (Deservedly) but not by 15 points to nil

    Ken Egan won today (not just an Irish view but one even shared by judges from several countries).

    I am not bitter but also know the rules of sport.

    I accept human errors as a part of sport but it usually equals out but sometimes it hasent here.

    China did well and i have all respect for them and am so happy that the power in sport may switch.

    I just think that a few faourable decisions went their way.

    Hope that clears your question.

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  • 14. At 11:26pm on 24 Aug 2008, eirebilly wrote:


    I really wanted to answer/comment on your post but really couldnt finish reading it.

    Can you say in 30 words or less what point you were trying to make?

    Please also keep it sporting and not political as i am not so clever as you.


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  • 15. At 11:52pm on 24 Aug 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    Chronise and Corvus4u;

    I take it by your slience/refusual to answer that you re both either young (parents shut you out) or you have no futher comment.

    take care for tonight

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  • 16. At 11:59pm on 24 Aug 2008, smellslikesalmon wrote:

    eirebilly, I actually thought Corvus4u's post was very interesting. Worth a read if you ever feel up to more than 30 words!

    Agree it's probably quite political for a sports site, but many of the posts on here have been during these Olympics.

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  • 17. At 11:59pm on 24 Aug 2008, mrpaulbh wrote:

    I despair when I read such drivel.These games were excellent but please do not try and use them to stir up some anti western mania on information that neither you nor I can verify either way.You speak like some colonial Lord from 200 years ago,we do not need that now.The chinese are a centralised society run by a dictatorship who use sport for their own means.Fine,buy treat it as such and do not be surprised if they have use d afew underhand means to ensure thheir athletes look as good as possible,and that might mean. doctoring a couple of girls passports!Alos out of interest China won 27 Golds in sports that require a judge,where bias,intended or not ,is most likely.We in Great Briatain won one gold in a sport that was judged,the ret were all first past the post.

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  • 18. At 00:06am on 25 Aug 2008, redhotbed wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 19. At 00:09am on 25 Aug 2008, eirebilly wrote:


    Sorry, i am from the heards of the great unwashed :-)

    i just think that sport is sport and that politics is politics.

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  • 20. At 00:16am on 25 Aug 2008, eirebilly wrote:


    eedgit, even the English commentators said that Ken Egan won so What are you on???

    No one wants to denegrate the Chinese boxer as he was great. just didnt win


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  • 21. At 00:19am on 25 Aug 2008, FixedGuru wrote:

    Nice to see that this year it is NOT Team GB which is having to celebrate their single non-gold medal. It makes up for previous dissappointments!

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  • 22. At 00:19am on 25 Aug 2008, Mark B wrote:

    If High-horse riding was an Olympic sport, some of you would be medallists.

    Decisions go both ways, and yes occasionally home teams get those decisions, but THAT'S LIFE.

    I take away the following from the games:

    1. China did a great job, and I hope the words of Rogge ring true "The Olympics have learned a lot from China, and China has learned a lot from the Olympics"

    2. The USA lost a lot of gold medals versus prior years, but I cannot remember more dignified US performers than this year

    3. Great Britain performed superbly. So what that e took medals rom specific sports, we channel our ability and our talent to certain sports to maximise results - that's called good management

    4. Thanks to the French, the Germans and the Aussies, who, occasionally, and through gritted teeth, congratulated us on our stunnign performance

    This has been, with a couple of notable exceptions, the most sporting Olympics that I can remember.

    I for one started a countdown today to the next Olympics. I hope Britain comes to a virtual standstill in 4 years time. It's a once in a lifetime event to host the Olympics and I for one intend to live EVERY moment of them

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  • 23. At 00:25am on 25 Aug 2008, Aaron wrote:

    Nah Kenny Egan didnt deserve to win, the problem with the boxing is the judging method is dubious at best, but back to the article dissapointed not to hear a mention for Michaela Breeze, the truest form of sports, her face when lifting the last weight knowing she couldnt get anywhere near a medal, but still fighting for GB true class

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  • 24. At 01:05am on 25 Aug 2008, Spinozin wrote:

    Re: MrPaulBh comment 17

    I think we should appreciate that eastern women look far younger than their real age when compared to western women. This starts from a young age upto their 30's. Why assume sporting foul play? They have great skin, and look young and vibrant. I should know, I'm married to one!

    Additionally, with all sports involving judges, there will always be controversy where subjective decisions are to be expected. The truth hits home hardest when our own sportsmen are involved. As long as judges use TV replays and are willing to overturn decisions, the contestants must accept judges decisions and contest any within the confines of the rules.

    ps. please keep sports clean. No drugs, no whingeing, and no politics.

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  • 25. At 03:23am on 25 Aug 2008, Williedaho wrote:

    The games were a huge success.
    Everybody enjoyed it worldwide.
    There are a small minority, very small who would disagree, but I do believe most people seem to think that the 2008 Olympics were one of the best.

    Yes there were some dodgy decisions, human error is allowed, nobody gets them all right.
    We want them to be 100% correct but that is not possible.
    Those who disagree and complain about this, must be perfect human beings.
    Bad refereeing and umpiring decision will never be gone.
    Thats life,

    And those that are still Chinese bashing about biasness and breaking rules on age.
    And also other country bashing.

    Firstly, there might be a slight tilt on very tight and even contest but I believe that is true for any host country of any Olympics.
    London 2012, you don't believe that there might be a small home crowd advantage and a slight favourtism to Team GB.
    Even in football, clubs generally do better at home than away. generally, not always.
    As they clubs would say, they try to make their home ground a fortress.

    Secondly, East Asian people do actually look younger than they seem. Especially those that are fairer in complexion and whiter skin.
    My Chinese cousin from Hong Kong is 28 and people still think she is a teen.

    Anyway, yes the rules state that the competitors must be 16, but in fairness, it is a greater achievement to be that young competing against girls 2-5 years older who have so much more experience and competitions under their belts.
    Jelousy maybe? Personally if you are good enough you are old enough. Age shouldn't be a barrier.
    This is true for any sport, but very common in Football. You can be 15 making your professional debut or you can be 40 like Paulo Maldini of AC Milan and still play on.
    Age does not matter.


    #18 redhotbed

    Stop dissing other nations.
    Personally Irish are pretty great people.
    Friendly and good for a laugh.
    Ireland celebrate all sporting achievements, even after losing the gold medal.

    Congradulations on all athletes whos fairly competed in good spirit in these marvelous games.

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  • 26. At 03:24am on 25 Aug 2008, rebecca0813 wrote:

    O wind , why do you never rest,

    Wandering, whistling to and fro,

    Bring rain out of the west,

    From the dim north bringing snow?

    ~by wow powerleveling

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  • 27. At 04:17am on 25 Aug 2008, waldovski wrote:

    Claire Stocks:

    Congratulations on an excellent piece. It's refreshing to read about something other than "Team GB" on the BBC, a piece that will be enjoyed by a reader of any nationality.

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  • 28. At 04:51am on 25 Aug 2008, glidingwing wrote:

    Olympics is lovely as for once I feel that the world is united.

    The audiences coming from places all over the world, and they seemingly having a good time together, cheering for the athletes.

    I love to see the victory ceremony when the athletes stepped up to collect the medals they had put in years' effort to achieve.

    Olympics is ugly when I read all those comments went against the host nation which had NOTHING to do with Olympics or sports.

    What has the Chinese government run their country to do with Olympics?

    Be careful when you are being so harsh on the host country, as next time around when it's London's turn to host the game, do you want people to nitpicking every small fault of London 2012? And do you wish to hear people who do not even live in UK to critcise the way your government run your country?

    What makes the Olympics game so wonderful is its SPIRIT. Bringing people together, to live in a peaceful, harmony fantasy land for at least a 2 weeks' time.

    Personally, I believe if the Olympics spirit exist in our every day life, the world would become a better place.

    For those who fills their life with hate, it's better off not to talking about Olympics.

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  • 29. At 06:13am on 25 Aug 2008, U12943314 wrote:

    First of all - absolutely delighted that the Games went off so well.

    BinHos - writing as someone who loves China, I think your comments are bit over the top. I'm glad to see that you're from India rather than China. Having said that, any talk in India of boycotting the London games unless the British Government apologies for, let's say for the sake of argument, the Amritsar massacre?

    Or perhaps Corvus4U would like to lobby for the Amritsar massacre, together with the use of military force to facilitate our Opium trade and maybe the Atlantic Slave Trade, to form the core the opening ceremony for London 2012. Frankly, I'm a colonial Brit and I don't feel the need to apologise for any of it BUT if we expect the Chinese to apologise to us for what they have done to themselves then we would pretty much have to apologise for what we have done to other countries. Of course any Olympic host accentuates the positive - to suggest that they do anything else is just dumb.

    Not quite sure what the definition of the "free world" is but it would certainly be interesting to pick 10 or 20 citizens at random in the street in London and then in Beijing or Shanghai (or even in Chinese cities that you've never of) and have them discuss their daily lives and how free they feel and how positive they feel about their future. Corvus4U - I'll wager you £10,000 on the outcome if the Beeb would like to make a program of it.

    I'd glad to hear from Corvus4U, who seems to be its spokesman, that the Free World is so self satisfied and righteous but if it doesn't like what it chooses to imagine it sees in China then I suggest that it is going to have to find a way to lump it.

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  • 30. At 07:25am on 25 Aug 2008, benbenwho wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 31. At 08:18am on 25 Aug 2008, Ladhar_Bheinn wrote:

    Just scrap all sports from the Olympics where the results is based on subjective judgement. Out goes diving, synchro swimming, boxing, taekwondo, gymnastics and several others.

    Either one removes these sports or one just has to accept that part of their very fabric is ludicrous refereeing decisions and when they happen that's sport (or rather that that particular sport).

    There is another class of sports where the scoring isn't based on judges but the results can be (eg weightlifting - was it a valid lift, football, hockey (eg was it offside) and a few others.

    Finally there are the 'pure' sports in which the scoring isn't based on judges and the result is rarely if ever affected by judges. Athletics, Swimming, Sailing, Rowing, Cycling to name a few. Interesting that these 5 sports account for the bulk of medals available at the Olympics.

    'Pureness' in this sense could be the criteria for both removing and including news sports. For example, Golf passes this test (and the personal integrity of the players is a credit to golf), snooker (although maybe not enough countries would send competitors), chess (well if we can have synchro swimming we can certainly have chess !), horse racing, angling (good watched live !), etc.

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  • 32. At 08:45am on 25 Aug 2008, maxim22 wrote:

    Bin Hos is entitled to his outspoken opinion (not welcome in China if they do not conform, I gather), but tendentious statements which are merely conjecture detract from the credibility factor. Perhaps just a dash of inferiority complex? How does anyone who wasn't there know what the previous Olympic games were like in comparison? Yes, the Chinese organisers are to be congratulated on a precise organisation and these Games were probably bigger - but better? The euphoria of a certainly well organised OG in Peking (now Beijing) does not necessarily mean that its predecessors were not equally as good, if not better, in their time. For instance, London 1948 was a happy breath of fresh air after the War and the biased propaganda Games of 1936 - a benchmark which saw the introduction of, inter alia, starting-blocks, paralympics (vide: 'The Austerity Olympics' by Janie Hampton). We should therefore be positive, acknowledge the success of the Pekiing (now Beijing) organisers, as well as the magnificent performance of Team GB and based on this look forward to London 2012 with confidence - and an absence of press/human rights restrictions. There can be little doubt that the Games will again be a success, or that dismal Jimmies will snipe away at British success or Western standards or air whatever particular chip they have on their shoulder. Me? I look at the achievements of the still evolving British Commonwealth (like giving the world the language we use on this blog) and add all the Team GB and British Commonwealth medals together. But that's just me. Roll on 2012 and good luck to Sir Seb Coe and the organising Team GB.

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  • 33. At 09:56am on 25 Aug 2008, MichaelMcL wrote:

    "The story which really tickled the French was that of brothers Steve and Christophe Guenot, who took gold and silver in the wrestling."

    It is Steeve (crazy french guy) and it was gold and bronze.

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  • 34. At 09:58am on 25 Aug 2008, chronise wrote:


    I have to say you are a typical anti-Chinese guy. What you need to do is to sit down and read some books or to travel to China, in order to make sure your comments are based on some facts.

    It is fair enough for any Olympic host not to show some sad tragedy history during the opening ceremony. Mao culture has been thrown into bin in 30 years ago (rather than 20 years mentioned in your comment). Will you show anything about the colonial history, the opium trade and anti-human right things that the British troop has done in Afghanistan, in London 2012?

    If you kinds of British want to make some positive impact on improving the human right in China, you should introduce the Chinese culture, history and the progress that has been made during the past 30 years rather than keep on talking about HR and politics. How will you feel about that someone is shouting outside your windows when you are holding a big party? It amazes me when ever another country is about to host a big event how the British love to make snide comments and going on about human rights violations etc. Britain is not exactly past or present perfect in their human rights violations.

    As regarding to Tibet, I think you should at least read some books to understand how dark the slave history in Tibet before 1949. What Dalai Lama wants to do, is just to reverse this kind of inhuman system. Most of Chinese supports the government to suppress riots in recent Tibet accident.

    I agree that China still has lots of problems, HR, politic and democracy etc. However, due to China’s huge geography, population and the number ethnic groups (how many of you knows how many ethnic groups that China has?), everything could be extreme complicated. How much time does Britain needs to come into today’s “free” society? How long China does starts to making change?

    During the late 18th and 19th, China suffers the invasion of foreign counties (including UK), civil wars, and horrible communist policies. That’s the important reason that why China is still lag behind the west world.

    One thing that some of your British or western arrogant people could not understand is that most Chinese are really feel optimistic about their country’s future. I born and lived in China for around 30 years, and I witness the tremendous progress that China has been archived during the past 30 years. The poverty population has been reduced from 2.5 billion (in 1978) to 29million (in 2004), from 30.7% to 3%. This is a great achievement! Although the Chinese government still has some problems in censorship, HR, and democracy, we had already see lots of progress had been made.

    What I want to say is that the future of China can only be determined by the Chinese people themselves. If you want to make some positive impact on the Chinese government, you should at least make sure your criticism is based on some facts. More important the western people should lower their arrogant heads, and learn how to persuade a country that has 1.3 billion people and 5000 year’s civilization. Probably what you guys should do is to read some books about Chinese history and culture, to visit China (unlike some of you British people, the Chinese people is very friendly and welcome foreigners), rather than sitting on the computer to write down some nonsense comments.

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  • 35. At 09:58am on 25 Aug 2008, zxDaveM wrote:

    what perhaps epitomised the true Olympic spirit for me, was the Iraqi feamle athlete in the heats on the 100m - she looked liked wearing a borrowed T-shirt, with cycling shorts. To overcome the difficulties she must have faced just to get there and compete, humbles all of us expecting our athletes (in whatever sport) to do well, with the advantages of cash investments in facilities and coaching.

    Saying that, I'm regardlessly proud of Team GB's achievements - lets hope we can keep the ball rolling, and improving further (especially in sports we didn't do so well at, or even failed to compete in) come 2012. Can't wait!

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  • 36. At 11:23am on 25 Aug 2008, cmyviews wrote:

    The discussions are quite interesing. I found British people have a sense of humour.

    Q. Does China win its golds by the help of judges?

    A. No. China has been preparing this Olympics for more than a decade. China dominated Weightlifting, Table tennis and diving. The first two have little to do with the judges. If you looked at the 10m platform, Mathew M. from the Ause won gold, and his last dive got 112 points, you should agree that the judges are pretty fair.

    Q. Is China a free society?

    A. Most Chinese people enjoy the similar levels of freedom as people in western countries.

    I do agree that China is not as democratic as western countries.

    Despite Chinese government has some problems, I will support them in power as long as they can keep the economic growth at a high speed (10% in the last 30 years). When a country becomes more wealthy and when more and more people are well educated. Democracy will come in a natural way, it is a evolution rather than revolution. I predict this will take place in some 10 years.

    In general, the leaders of Chinese government are very competent, many of them graduated from the most prestigious universities in China.

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  • 37. At 12:20pm on 25 Aug 2008, agile&fragile wrote:

    To Chronise:

    "I born and lived in China for around 30 years, and I witness the tremendous progress that China has been archived during the past 30 years. The poverty population has been reduced from 2.5 billion (in 1978) to 29million (in 2004), from 30.7% to 3%."

    hi mate, have you got problems with maths?

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  • 38. At 12:30pm on 25 Aug 2008, chronise wrote:


    Most Chinese are genius in maths.

    30.7 % is the percentage of rural population of 2.5 billion people in 1978 (China has a rural population as 8 billion at that time), 3% is the percentage of rural population of 29million (China has a rural population as 9.6 billion in 2004).

    Hope this could be clarified.

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  • 39. At 1:04pm on 25 Aug 2008, agile&fragile wrote:

    total population in the world has not ever exceeded 7billion. How there could be 9.6billion in the rural area in China only?

    you said you were born and had lived in China for around 30 years and eyewitnessed the change of the past 30 years. So, how could you recognise the fact right after you were born or just a small child? I suppose that when you were a child, you could not be anything but naive. Or else, you are really genius as most of the Chinese.

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  • 40. At 1:17pm on 25 Aug 2008, chronise wrote:


    Sorry, English is not my native language.

    It should be 0.25 billion and 0.8 billion.

    As you mentioned I born and lived in China, I definitely know more about China than you. Probably you never been to China yet.

    I have a vivid memory about my Childhood and I can see the great change of the past 30 years.

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  • 41. At 1:35pm on 25 Aug 2008, RalphDoubell wrote:

    "Win at all costs Australia"? I agree that sometimes we Australians get a bit too carried away with sport. I always cringe at sportsmen/women from Australia who have this "we hate the Poms" attitude. Maybe the worst example of this in recent times is our cricket team. Freddie Flintoff (a demonstably good sport) didn't deserve a 5-0 thumping in Australia. The cricket team has a certain arrogance but they were severely chastised for their behaviour last summer against India by a great many Australians.
    But the Australian Olympic Team members? Hardly. They fought hard, did their best, sometimes triumphed and sometimes didn't, but I never saw any poor sportsmanship or excuses offered for defeat.
    Australia is hardly perfect - I wish we'd show greater humility sometimes on the sporting field especially - but then again, no nation's sporting teams are above reproach. Getting back to cricket, England was pretty keen to win the Ashes in '05. So keen that Mr Trescothick was the nominated ball polisher. Those mints worked a treat, didn't they? Almost "win at all costs" one might say..........

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  • 42. At 1:44pm on 25 Aug 2008, agile&fragile wrote:


    I'm not on either side of the debate between you (chineses) and the westerners (who are in the opposite side). I'm just a bit curious about the way people pull out their ability of eloquence.

    I have learnt that one of the jobs of journalism is to pose questions in any possible way. They try to ignit your frustration by put you in the extremity of crisis.

    The best ways to response is neglecting them.

    If you choose to get into the argument, dont be as radical as they want you to bahave. Because doing that will not be able to persuade the neutrals and the ignorants, if any.

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  • 43. At 2:45pm on 25 Aug 2008, kenLondon wrote:


    Please, if you have never been to China then go for a couple of weeks and then come back and comment on it.

    Don’t start writing ill informed comments about another country from what you hear and see from the mass media.

    China is not perfect. But then what country is? Is Britain perfect?

    Britain is a fantastic tolerant nation but it too has it’s problems.

    There are many broken families in Britain, leading to crime and social problems such as underage pregnancy, drugs, a benefit system that promotes laziness, youths hanging around streets intimidating other people and knifing each other. Extremists which feel they are not part of this country and plot Britain’s downfall by bombing it’s own citizens.

    Should the muslims protest in 2012 when the world’s spotlight is on London, draping banners from the top of Canary Wharf reading ‘get out of Iraq , Allah is great!’

    Lets try and get our own ‘house’ in order before we comment on how another country should run theirs.

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  • 44. At 5:38pm on 25 Aug 2008, Williedaho wrote:

    I am putting money on Britain to ban athletes from Iraq, Iran, Afganistan, North Korea and a few other countries for the 2012 Olympics.
    Simply by having their visas denied.

    Sorry for the early British bashing.
    Beijing Olympics are over so I guess the Chinese Bashing should be over and moved on.

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  • 45. At 11:42pm on 25 Aug 2008, Maschoe1 wrote:

    There's one story of true olympic spirit missing in the article. That is the one of the croatian 49'er sailing team who helped the danish 49'er team out in their time of need. The danes had a big lead at the time of the final race, when the mast on their boat broke just before starting time, since it was a terrible weather. The croatians who had not qualified for the final was watching the race on TV, when a journalist called them to ask if the danes could borrow their boat. The croatians not only agreed but hurried down to help the danes prepare the boat, and the danes made it to the start line only 5 seconds before they would have been disqualified and four minutes after the other boats had started the race. Then as a result of the terrible weather, which made all boats turn over at some point or another, and of some brilliant sailing by the danes, the danes made it to the finish line before three other boats and won the gold medal. Afterwards the spanish silver medal winners and the italians on the fourth place complained of the lending of the boat, but all of their complaints were not aknowledged as the danes had made it to the start line in time and because all the 49'er boats are identical except for the flag. Meanwhile the germans like the croatians showed true sportsmanship saying that they did not want the race to be settled at a desk rather than at sea, even though a complaint might have given them the silver medal. Now thats a story of the olympics. (Following these events many danes joined a forum on facebook thanking the croatians, the croatians was nominated for an honory medal of good sportmanship and also the croatians beat the danes in handball and table tennis, so the debt was repayed:-)

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  • 46. At 00:19am on 26 Aug 2008, sportsmatter wrote:

    It is interesting to read your post Maschoe1 . I assume you are Danish, because your 'Fair Play' version of the events is very different to the one of Spanish media has been giving. Spain would have taken gold had the Danes been disqualified, which they should have been because the rules clearly state that you cannot change boats in the middle of the event, and also because it lacked TV cameras, the Croatian/Danish boat failed to met a basic requirement of the rules.
    Also, the Italians and Spanish qould have approached the race differently had they known that the boat with a Croatian flag and the letter CRO on it was actually being manned by the Danish - the Italians were celebrating at the end of the race because they had known they had to finish five positions ahead of the Danish boat and had relaxed towards the end when the Danish boat was nowhere in sight.
    Amazingly, not only did the Danish cheat by taking another team's boat, but they didn't even inform the opposition and masqueraded as Croatians, thus confusing everybody's tactics, and even more amazingly, they were allowed to keep their gold medals despite so obviously so many of the rules.
    What amuses me is how the media in two different countries can have such contrasting interpretations of the same event depending on whose side they are on.

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  • 47. At 01:01am on 26 Aug 2008, TiffanyG1 wrote:

    kingslandroar wrote:
    "Any chance of a medal table without the Chinese 'medals' in the 'judging' events? "

    how about table tennis, badminton, shooting that China had dominated these fields for quite some time, China won in these fields with the help of judges?

    China swept 8 gold medals in weight lifting, are these due to judges' help?

    Li Na beat Venus Williams in women's tennis singles, and the judges helped Li Na win as well? Liu xiang was the 110m hurdle champion at Athens Olympic, was he helped by the judges too?

    This is the fact:
    when some people are unwilling to accept China's emergence as the new superpower,
    they have to exploit every excuse to disfigure China.

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  • 48. At 1:22pm on 26 Aug 2008, Claire S - BBC Sport wrote:

    Apologies folks for the error in the item on handball where I said Iceland had beaten Croatia in their semi. France beat Croatia, Iceland overcame Spain. I have corrected it now. Claire

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  • 49. At 11:40pm on 26 Aug 2008, Maschoe1 wrote:

    Answer to sportsmatter's post
    I agree that it is interesting, how things are viewed differently in two countries. From what I have heard, there was no such law saying that it was against the rules to borrow a boat as that eventuality had not been foreseen. Also I think it is very wrong to call it cheating when the spanish would most likely have done the exact same thing had it been their mast that broke. The danes just had some bad luck and did not give up. That's what sport is supposed to be about. To me it seems much more like the spanish are bad loosers who cannot admit to the great sailing the danes did by catching up even though they started 4 minutes later. And besides; would the spanish sailing team really want to win the gold medal on some desk decision? That seems to be a poor way to win. However I will admit that the danes would probably have send in the first complaint too, had they been in the spanish position. Not because it was a question of cheating but of something that was not written in the rules. The second complaint however was very poor sportsmanship by the spanish and italians. Sometimes you loose, and even though you may not agree with the jury's decision, going on complaining only makes you look like bad loosers. And saying, as some spanish media have, that the gold had been spanish all along is just plain ignorant. The danes were far ahead and the spanish were not even in a medal position before the final race. Also all countries signed a statement saying that they would accept the jury's decision. Therefore I think the spanish and the italians showed some severe lack of the olympic spirit, when they went on with their complaints. Take it as a man, now would you.
    All this aside, what I really wanted to point out in my initial statement was the croatian deed as well as the german as a sign of true olympic spirit! This is regardless of who won the gold medals or not.

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  • 50. At 02:44am on 27 Aug 2008, Stop_it_Aggers wrote:

    Nice article - I'd not heard the Aguero story.

    The Maarten van der Weijden story also pulls the heart strings - recovery from leukaemia to win one of the toughest of all events, the openwater swimming, even if it was at Britain's expense.

    PS It's only 204 stories - Brunei didn't get their paperwork in on time.

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  • 51. At 02:47am on 27 Aug 2008, sportsmatter wrote:

    Maschoe1, I am British but live in Spain so have been following the Olympics on Spanish TV, and therefore fairly neutral on who was right and wrong... it was just interesting to see the Spanish media so angry about the Danish 'chearing' and then to see a Danish? opinion about how much of a Fair Play thing it was.
    What is great, is I have now been in the UK, Israel, Italy, Poland, Hungary and Spain when the Olympics have been on in diffrent years, and it is onderful how the whole thing is so totally different they are depending on the perspective. In one country they are going crazy about one event, and in another they don't even notice because they are only interested in some guy in the archery or something - and the bias in the media is amazingly brilliant.
    In Spain they can't understand that the basketball team posing for photos while making 'slit eye' Chinese signs with their fingers on their eyes might be a little bit offensive. Idiots. A lot wose than those cartoons the Danish guys got in so much trouble for!
    And to think... for the next four years none of us are going to care in the very slightest about yacht racing. I know I won't. But I will be checking Eurosport in case there is any more coverage of the Venezuelan ladies volleyball team. They were grrrrreat!

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  • 52. At 2:29pm on 27 Aug 2008, derekjoe wrote:

    Yeah, a lot of 27-gold-based-on-judgement for these days. Seems it origins from American medias and widely taken by other countries now. I'd like to talk about some truth I know about it.

    1, 9 golds from Gymnastics, that's a lot, maybe too much. But does anybody know how many China won in last year's world championship in Stuttgart? 8. They've always been great for these years. Only men's horizontal bar and floor exercise surprise people in Beijing, both won by 20 yo Zou Kai. For horizontal bar, he's got a difficuty of 7.2, others are all less than 7. And for floor exercise, both strong expects from Romania and Brazil had major faults in the final which are very obvious to audience.

    2, 7 gold from diving, only 1 lost to Australia. But last time it's 6 in Athens, and don't forget the ridiculous zero point last dive occured in China's men's syn springboard in Athens. And the Chinese team have swiped all 8 for some times during last years' smaller events.

    3, I can see some Irish anger came from boxing decisions. I've seen some matches and have to say there might be some generous points given to China. So in last year's world championship China won 1 gold and this time it's 2, big deal!

    4, I don't really know how old He Kexin is, 14? Maybe. Totally child abuse. But look at 14 yo Tom Daley's muscles. And FYI, Chinese diver Lin Yue who won Synchronised platform didn't show up in single's event becaused he's been growing too fast in the last year which led to a unsteady form. And how old is he? 17. Three years older than Daley. Usually Eastern people do develop later than Westerners.

    5, From the other sides, there're also disappointing dicisions given against China. In women's team sabre, Ukraine won 45-44 to China. In the last move both fencer hit her opponent, and the ref gave the point to Ukraine. In taekwondo, China's two time Oly champ Chen Zhong won her match, while minutes after the match she was told the decision had been changed and she did nothing but accepted the result. To sum up, decisions against China, nobody cares! And decisions favoured China, evil host!

    6, Let's talk about Greece. They had 6,6,4 in Athens and 0,2,2 in Beijing. Anybody see that? Not really. Because Greece is politically clean or just not strong enough to be a threat? I can't tell.

    ps, could anyone here tell me how many golds Team GB won in Athens which required judgements? I guess it must be much more than 1.

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  • 53. At 5:22pm on 27 Aug 2008, Penglai wrote:

    4. At 9:08pm on 24 Aug 2008, kingslandroar wrote:
    Any chance of a medal table withouth the Chinese 'medals' in the 'judging' events? Might give a more realistic impression of the host countries true performance.

    Here are some data that may be of some help to you in this regard. (Gold medals only)

    Beijing 2008
    1. China 51
    2. USA 36
    3. Russia 23

    Athens 2004
    1. USA 36
    2. China 32
    3. Russia 27

    Sydney 2000
    1. USA 36
    2. Russia 32
    3. China 28

    Atlanta 1996
    1. USA 44
    2. Russia 26
    3. Germany 20
    4. China 16

    From the data, we can see that USA is quite steady with the number of gold medals at 36, except for 1996 when they hosted the Olympics.

    China is steady on the rise, 16 - 28 - 32 - 51.

    Even if this Olympics was staged somewhere else out of China, China would most likely perform better than last time at Athens (32 Golds).

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  • 54. At 8:57pm on 27 Aug 2008, Maschoe1 wrote:

    Yes, I can imagine the news coverage must be really different in these countries you mention. I've been surfing the british, swedish and norwegian websites as well as the danish during the olympics and it certainly was very different subjects they were discussing. But I guess that's a consequence of the many different sportsbranches participating and cultural traditions. Just take handball as an example - in some countries ladies handball is extremely popular (Norway and Denmark), in others it's men's handball (Croatia, France, Iceland and sometimes Denmark) and in some countries people don't even know the sport itself (the US, britain). Meanwhile we hardly ever watch baseball, basketball and volleyball on danish TV. All power to the media I guess (which I find a bit scary actually)..

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  • 55. At 10:43pm on 27 Aug 2008, preciousinformer wrote:

    Ken Egan may have been a more experienced fighter but unfortunately he lost that fight. Deal with it.

    He looked fairly sluggish compared to the Chinese maybe due to fatigue, and that was enough to give the Chinese boxer the confidence to attack early which was an excellent tactic because all he had to do was to hold on till the end. Ken definitely looked like the more experienced boxer but that was not his fight unfortunately.

    Now South Korea was a different story, the refereeing then was the most shameful I have ever seen. Read more on the Roy Jones fight.

    Chronise, thanks for the clarification, BTW, chi bao le ma? :-P

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