Dr Dreadful reports once again from China on the second week of the stupendous Games of the XXIXth Olympiad. (OK, not actually from China, but from a cosy table in a Chinese restaurant in rural California, which is the next best thing as the wait staff have all been watching the Olympics 24/7 on a crappy little portable TV in the corner. Oh, come on – you don't actually think I could've found a hotel room in Beijing right now. I mean, seriously.)
Michael Phelps wraps up his final individual event in the pool, squeaking home in the 100m butterfly by 1/100th of a second ahead of Serbia's Milorad Cavic to clinch a Spitz-tying seventh gold medal. In a post-race interview, US swimming coach Eddie Reese reveals that Phelps's stupendous daily calorie intake enabled him to grow just enough extra fingernail at the last moment to reach the wall ahead of his rival.
Ruqaya al-Ghasara of Bahrain wins her women's 200m quarter-final wearing a full-cover body suit and headscarf, protecting her modesty as required by her Muslim faith. Noting that it didn't seem to slow her down any, the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta – regarded by some as the world's smallest state – announces plans by several of his knights to enter the swimming events at the 2012 Games wearing full chain mail and body armor.
Several finals in the sailing competition are postponed due to a lack of wind. British yachting great Ben Ainslie questions the decision to hold the regatta at Qingdao, which is known for its calm conditions. He feels that it is only one of a series of unwise venue choices, among others being the selection of the Mahatma Gandhi Hall of Non-Violence for the boxing event and the siting of the clay pigeon shooting range underneath the final approach path at Beijing Airport.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt obliterates the field to win the men's 100m in 9.69, shattering the world record by a spectacular 3/100ths of a second. Astounded TV pundits speculate as to what kind of time he might have clocked if he hadn't walked the entire race.
A publicity photograph of the Spanish men's basketball team making 'slitty-eyed' gestures causes a global furore. Bearing in mind that there are 40 million Spaniards and 1.3 billion Chinese (including Yao Ming), it is generally agreed that this was probably the worst idea since Julius Caesar thought it might be nice to stroll over to the Senate on this lovely March day to see how everyone was getting on. The photo does, however, win the approval of Britain's Prince Philip.
And he's done it. Jason Lezak anchors the US 4x100m medley relay team home to ensure that Michael Phelps wins his unprecedented eighth gold in yet another world record time. Later, an elated Phelps reveals to NBC's Bob Costas that it seems silly to stop now and that he will be heading over to the Bird's Nest to try for a few more golds on the track. He relents when it is pointed out to him that he has just broken the world record for the most "you know"s in a single TV interview – 24 in one minute, two seconds.
Rebecca Romero continues Great Britain's domination in the velodrome with gold in the women's individual pursuit. Romero, who posed naked on her bike covered in gold paint for an ad campaign prior to the Games, says that her efforts to avoid the ensuing paparazzi attention made her even faster than she otherwise would have been. Suspicious cycling officials still insist on examining her closely before the medal ceremony to make sure that her tunic was not also painted on.
Tragedy in the Bird's Nest. At the last moment, reigning Olympic champion Liu Xiang pulls out of the 110m hurdles after injuring himself during the warm-up. Despite the fact that they have won 648 of the 663 medals on offer so far, the Chinese nation is inconsolable and President Hu Jintao declares a national day of mourning.
A happier nation is Kenya, which continues its preeminence in distance running with gold and silver in the women's 800m, and gold and bronze in the men's 3000m steeplechase. In other news, the USA is good at basketball, China is a big country and McDonald's sells a lot of hamburgers.
100m champ Usain "Lightning" Bolt spectacularly smashes another world record in his specialist event, the 200m. Afterwards, when a TV interviewer remarks as to the appropriateness of his name, Bolt advises that we should watch the upcoming Junior World Championships, in which his promising young compatriots Delbert Swift, Henry Greasedlightning and Devane Batouttahell will be sprint medal favorites.
Boxing is one of the few sports in which some of the smaller Olympic nations have a chance to shine, and in which the US has performed poorly. It therefore produces the curious spectacle of CNBC commentators Jim Gray and Bob Papa attempting to interview boxers from Ecuador, Tajikistan and Mongolia who don't speak a word of English. The results are predictably unedifying, but at least CNBC's viewers now know how to say "who is this idiot?" in 107 different languages.
The USA is out of both the men's and women's sprint relays after dropping the baton. A devastated Lauryn Williams, who was to have anchored the women home, questions the wisdom of USA Track and Field in hiring Daunte Culpepper to help the teams work on their exchanges.
It is announced that heptathlon silver medallist Lyudmila Blonska of Ukraine has failed a drug test. Blonska, who has already served a two-year ban for doping, will be stripped of her medal and banned for life if the failed test is confirmed. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko expresses dismay, but observes that Blonska was spotted cutting in line at the gate when boarding her flight to Beijing, is known to steal food from the mouths of babes and, come to think of it, hasn't filed a tax return since 1998.
The uproar over the American track and field team's dismal (defined as: not winning every single medal on offer) performance in Beijing intensifies after the announcement that Team USA has not only lost the softball final but has also failed to qualify for the medal round in either men's or women's handball. The US Olympic Committee moves decisively to set up a postmortem inquiry, which is abruptly adjourned after someone points out that the country doesn't actually have a handball team.
Three finals, three gold medals, three world records. Jamaica, led by Usain Bolt, storms to victory in the men's 4x100m relay. Debate rages as to whether Bolt or Michael Phelps is the biggest star of the Games. It is announced that both Bolt and Phelps will be reluctant guests at the inaugural USA vs. Jamaica "My Olympian Can Beat Up Your Olympian" event to be held later this year in neutral Trinidad.
Poorly-named Cuban taekwondo player Angel Matos is served a lifetime ban by his sport's governing body after he kicks a referee in the head. The unfortunate official awarded the match to his Kazakh opponent after Matos took more than the stipulated one minute to heal a broken toe. Angel's protest of injustice is somewhat weakened by press photographs which clearly show that it was his injured foot which delivered the fateful blow.
Russia's Evgeniya Kanaeva wins gold in rhythmic gymnastics, with exemplary performances in all four disciplines – rope, hoop, clubs and ribbon. Asked about the secret of her success, Kanaeva reveals that she trains by lassoing wild bison in Siberia, tossing truck tires 30 feet into the air, directing planes to the gate at Omsk Airport, and flossing patients' teeth from across the room at her local dentist's office.
Matthew Mitcham stuns the Water Cube, and delights sports-mad Australia, by taking gold in the men's 10-metre platform and foiling the host nation's bid for a clean sweep in the dive pool. Mitcham, who only took up diving two years ago, isn't stopping there. He caught part of a boxing match on TV in the ready room before the final, got interested in the sport, and will fight for the world light-welterweight title on Tuesday.
Another extravaganza of light, fire and mega-choreography brings the 2008 Olympic Games to a close. IOC President Jacques Rogge, following time-honored tradition, calls upon the youth of the world to assemble in London in 2012, and Beijing mayor Guo Jinlong passes the Olympic flag to his London counterpart Boris Johnson. Hold on a minute… Boris?!? Guo halts proceedings momentarily to verify that he's not handing the flag to the mayor of Sochi, venue of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, by mistake.
As part of the ceremony, a red London double-decker bus is driven into the stadium. Unexpectedly, its roof unfolds to reveal a model of the London skyline and various people, including pop star Leona Lewis and rock legend Jimmy Page, hidden inside. The crowd is delighted, but the Chinese government is reported to be furious that their secret invasion plans have been revealed.
And so we bid farewell to Beijing and look forward to London in four years' time. Dr Dreadful will be reporting from the authentically Cockney 'Dog & Duck' British pub in downtown Fresno, where there will be authentic Irish folk music and an authentic Happy Hour special on Bud Light and French fries.Powered by Sidelines