FOR THE WEEK OF AUG. 11, 2008
Olympic stars of Summer '08 shine in Beijing
This worldwide spectacle has local flavor. Look for reports on athletes, coaches and Olympic attendees from your region or state.
Blogs, columns and photo or video galleries reach beyond the news of medal winners to show what the Olympics are like for participants, journalists and Chinese hosts. Find an interesting feature to share.
Check out an Olympics online forum, article comments or the letters page to see what people are saying . . . and perhaps to post your thoughts.
On beach sand, water, hills, tracks, basketball courts, soccer fields, gymnastic apparatus, wrestling mats and other sites, the world's top amateur athletes are going for the gold . . . and silver and bronze. The Summer Olympics began last weekend and run through Aug. 24 in and around China's capital, Beijing. More than 10,700 men and women from about 200 counties are competing in 28 sports from archery to wrestling.
Nine new events include bicycle motocross (BMX), marathon swimming, team table tennis and steeplechase running - a type of obstacle course. Among the most popular - and most televised - competitions are volleyball, diving, soccer, tennis and gymnastics.
China's selection as host for the first time lets it show a global audience how technologically advanced and prosperous that ancient land with 1.3 billion people - yes, billion! -- has become. It also provides a forum for protests against the Communist leaders' blemished record on human rights, environmental protection, press freedom and Internet censorship. Tight security is intended to avoid any disruptions.
Americans to watch: Swimmer Michael Phelps, 23, is competing in his third Olympics and could break Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in a single Games. Gymnasts Shawn Johnson and Paul Hamm are strong medal contenders. And in the first BMX events of any Olympics, 25-year-old Donny Robinson is the top-ranked rider worldwide.
Sportswriter says: "China wants to be seen as capable and friendly, more than the source of inexpensive goods for the First World, more than an emerging consumer of oil and air and water. China is a player." - George Vecsey, New York Times columnist
Athlete says: "It's about who's fastest, strongest, smartest and least scared." - Donny Robinson, BMX rider from California
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