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I've just been to the opening ceremony.

I have to keep much of what I saw under my hat as it was an "embargoed" dress rehearsal, of which only 30 seconds of quite general footage has been released.

Since a Korean TV crew filmed a bit of Saturday's rehearsal and stuck it on You Tube (they have a few goes at it to get it right), the Chinese Olympic officials have been very jumpy.

But I don't think I'm giving too much away if I tell you this...


Continue reading "Opening ceremony sneak preview reveals China's power"

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If you're anything like as trivial as me you'll fancy having a crack at these three Olympics-related questions. Are you ready? Turned your mobiles off? Seriously, don't cheat and I promise not to give the prize to somebody who lives around the corner but forget to tell you so you keep phoning in like lemons.

OK, first question: what have Kate Howey, Matthew Pinsent, Seb Coe and Lucinda Prior-Palmer got in common?

Second question: who's Lucinda Prior-Palmer?

Final question: what might British veteran swimmer Mark Foster do in Beijing that Aussie veteran swimmer Grant Hackett definitely won't?

Continue reading "Could Foster bear the British banner in Beijing?"

Even in this strange city, this is a particularly strange moment.

In Beijing's equivalent of the Bluewater shopping centre, Usain Bolt, the 100m world record holder, is holding his final pre-Olympic press conference in a Chinese version of a Caribbean beach bar - alongside diminutive Scottish singer-songwriter Paulo Nutini.

On the wall behind them are four enormous Maori-style masks, brightly painted with coloured swirls. In front, either side of a blue neon catwalk, camera crews from around the globe are herded in like high-tech cattle.

"Unt now," announces the event's German host proudly, "please - zer men who shocked zer verld!"

Continue reading "The odd couple unveil new shoes"


It seems China's finest Tsingtao may have to wait a few days.

The British team are away in Shanghai at the moment for some serious rest and relaxation before competition begins. It's been pretty full-on for the guys so this is their final chance for a proper get together.

Manager Stephen Park says that one of the most draining things about the Chinese summer is the 100% humidity which means the temperatures of around 25C feels more like 40!

I'm sure Team Mirabaud will have hit the spa by now..

Continue reading "Will gold medal for Ayton mean new name for fiancé Dempsey?"

On Monday we brought you our final 10 British athletes to watch in Beijing. Now it's the turn of international athletes.

You had your say last month on this blog, and there are a few more changes here than in the British line-up.

Continue reading "Our international 10 to watch"

You'll have gathered from other entries on this blog that it's hot here.

Very hot indeed. I'm not going to complain, I spend enough time during the winter months longing for warmth like this, but the temperature does present certain difficulties.

Put it this way: there's a lot to be said for working for radio outlets rather than television out here.

For television reporters there is the "sweat issue".

Continue reading "TV presenters in a pickle over how to stop sweating "

Britain's archers have an excellent chance of winning individual and team medals, but the South Koreans will be the ones to beat in Beijing when the competition gets underway on Saturday.

Archery accounted for three of the nine gold medals South Korea won in Athens four years ago, and they have a deep pool of talented archers who are all more than capable of winning medals.

Athens gold medalist Park Sung-hyun and 12-arrow world record holder Yoon Ok-hee will lead the South Korean women's squad, while the men's team will include Im Dong-hyun, the reigning world champion.

Continue reading "Dominating South Koreans are not invincible"

There is no predicting what will happen at an Olympic Games. But that's no reason not to try.

I've spent a lot of time writing reports about British athletes doing incredibly well in a wide variety of events this year, so when UK Sport announced they'd be happy with 35 medals in Beijing (41 at a push), that seemed almost unambitious to me. Clearly sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe agrees - he wants GB to meet, or exceed that target.

I turned to Luciano Barra, an expert at this kind of thing. As a former head of the Italian Olympic Committee, Barra has spent much of his life immersed in four-year Olympiads.

Having taken a step back in the wake of the 2006 Winter Olympics, Barra devotes his time to maintaining a spreadsheet which pools every single world championship result, in order to estimate the Olympic medal tally. He seemed like a good person to call.

Continue reading "The Olympic projection game"

GB sailor Ben Ainslie (left) and cyclist Bradley Wiggins

Just six British Olympians have won three or more Olympic gold medals.

Continue reading "Olympic countdown - 3 days - Triple gold"

Hong Kong

The most serious concern here, as in Beijing, is the weather.

The skies are blue but come 11 o'clock in the morning, the heat is so oppressive that half an hour outside is as much as anyone not accustomed to it can bear.

The cross-country section of the three-day-event on Monday begins early in the morning but is unlikely to have finished until 11.30am so the later starters will be at a serious disadvantage, unless the Beas River location is much cooler than here at Sha Tin.

At a distance of only 5.7km it is already the shortest cross-country course in Olympic memory and discussions are taking place about the possibility of it being shortened further.

Having said that, conditions can change very quickly and with rain forecast for the next five days and talk of a typhoon at the weekend, the stamina-sapping heat may be the least of the problems.

Continue reading "GB's Famous Five still strong enough for gold"


There have been occasions during the last 48 hours when I've found it easy to see why some people consider the Olympic Games (any Olympic Games that is, not just this one) to be about as much fun as back-street dentistry and far worse value for money.

The wanton extravagance of it all, the overblown guff that every official or commercial "partner" spouts, the joy-sapping security operation, the sheer waste, the massive fence around everything, the 30 Russian hacks who pushed in front of me at breakfast, especially them.

But then I remember, it's the Olympics.

None of that really matters. It's just grumpiness because me, Blanka Vlasic, Laure Manaudou and the Cuban women's volleyball team are in town and we're impatient to get it on.

Continue reading "Waste of money or greatest show on earth? Let's get it on!"

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