- 14 Aug 08, 03:19 PM
Storms caused havoc for a while at the Olympics today. Rain, wind, thunder and lightning swept through Beijing and Shunyi again - turning Olympic fans into pixies as they snapped up cheap plastic macs (price: five yuan = 40p) to protect them from the elements.
Apparently the parents of Aberdonian David Florence, who won a rare canoeing silver earlier in the week, were close to a lightning strike at the Great Wall and as a result were checked over by the British Olympic Association's medical team - but thankfully found to be uninjured.
Back in Olympic Green, it looked like a Smurf convention was in full swing as thousands of Chinese tried to make the best of it (macs come in blue, white, yellow and pink and quickly sold out).
Presenters John Inverdale and Sir Steve Redgrave managed to find a pair however, as they broadcast live from the rowing lake at Shunyi, which was worst-hit by the weather, causing chuckles from those who watched them on TV.
Redgrave looked like he'd squeezed into one which was a size or two too small - he could barely do the buttons up across his broad chest and had the camera panned down, it would have shown the plastic barely covering his thighs.
All racing on the lake was delayed and then postponed until Friday (scheduled to be a spare rest day in case of bad weather) as surprise electrical storms swept in.
BBC TV Sport rowing producer Sally Richardson said that one minute they were bathed in blistering heat and the next, black clouds moved in.
"It was so hot and sunny we were turning the plastic chairs over so the rowers didn't burn their legs when they sat down to be interviewed and we were plastering the sun cream on.
"We heard a rumble of thunder in the distance and didn't think anything of it. And then an hour or so later, it hit."
Thunder and lightning brought a halt to proceedings - a storm earlier in the week had seen six cameras hit by lightning - as crews and workers abandoned the course for safety reasons.
Under regatta rules, racing can be delayed for two reasons - one is lightning, and the other is if conditions on the water become so rough they may favour or disadvantage one boat ahead of another.
Both were on display in Shunyi.
At one point softball, tennis, baseball as well as rowing, and canoeing were all halted as the rain pelted down.
The beach volleyball players, archers and shooters carried on regardless - there was no sailing but ironically that was due to lack of wind hundreds of miles away in becalmed Qingdao.
The beach volleyball you can understand - they wear swimming costumes.
But guns and high-powered bows slipping around in wet hands..
Indeed, the range felt more like a "Scottish Grouse Moor", said reporter Eleanor Oldroyd, who had to broadcast during the downpour from beneath a plastic sheet.
"The rain made it harder for the competitors as it made the clay targets heavier, the guns harder to handle and steamed up the glasses that many of them wear," said Oldroyd.
The gold medal winner, Italy's Chiara Cainero, was happy to see the rain as she lives in a part of Italy "where it rains a lot" apparently. But Wei Ning of China, who finished sixth, was not so chuffed as she said it "made her gun slippery" (see I told you) and she missed several targets.
The bad weather looks set to continue as the Olympic weather service is predicting several more days of clouds, with rain likely to return.
This might rather spoil the athletics, which starts tomorrow (the Bird's Nest has no roof) - a world record is being talked about in the 100m final but surely only if the weather stays warm and clement.
But it could be a bit of a bonus for the Brits..
Was it a co-incidence Nicole Cooke stormed to road race gold in weather that was absolutely foul - and entirely in keeping with a wet weekend in her native Welsh hills?
Paula Radcliffe's got enough on her plate going into Sunday's marathon (starts 0030 BST) after her battle to recover from injury - but cool drizzle (the temperature drops a good 10 degrees centigrade when it rains here) could be just what she needs.
Ben Ainslie could do with a bit more of a blow in the Yellow Sea to make conditions there a bit less unpredictable.
And Britain's female triathlete Helen Tucker will be looking at the dark clouds praying the rain lasts - she won the world championships in Vancouver in cold wet weather, which was said to be a major factor in her victory.
Bring on the rain! Now, where's my mac?
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