Live from Dr Dreadful in Beijing. Well, all right then, the Beijing Kitchen Chinese Restaurant in Clovis, California, which has free wi-fi.
The Chinese spend their entire GNP on the most lavish and spectacular opening ceremony the Olympic Games has ever seen. Afterwards, the organizing committee for London 2012 admits that it will be a hard act to follow, and that they may rethink their original concept of offering everyone a cup of tea.
The first official day of competition gets under way, although in actual fact the soccer tournaments have been quietly going on since the middle of last week, hoping no one would notice. This is seen as a feasibility study for the possible inclusion of cricket in future Olympics: due to the length of the average cricket match, IOC analysts have recommended that qualifying would need to start soon if the sport is to be included in the 2016 Games.
Greek sprinter Anastasios Gousis achieves the distinction of being the first athlete sent home from the Games for failing a drug test. He's the 14th member of the Greek contingent to lose his Olympics place for using a banned substance. NBC statisticians extrapolate that at the rate they're going, the last clean member of the Greek team will have tested positive by approximately 11.30 a.m. on day 3. At a hastily convened press conference, opening ceremony flag bearer Ilias Iliadis explains that the team are purposely trying to get disqualified: they've been pining since the end of the Games in Athens and there's a general feeling that if they can't have the Olympics in Greece, they don't want to be in them at all.
Heart-stopping moments in Beijing as swimming legend Michael Phelps embarks on his quest for an unprecedented eight gold medals. It is initially thought that he has fallen off the start block at the beginning of his 400m individual medley final, but it transpires that he has already finished the race in world record time while the other swimmers were still lining up.
China wins gold in women's synchronized diving with a flawless performance. Following a rigorous examination of the platform and pool, the judges report that they can find no evidence of mirrors or other trickery, even though TV close-ups of the two Chinese divers, Guo Jingjing and
Guo Jingjing Wu Minxia, show that they both have moles and scars in the exact same places.
US beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh loses her wedding ring in the sand during a match. After an extensive search, it is eventually found by a stadium groundskeeper who presents it to the relieved Walsh. Unfortunately, due to the language barrier, the groundskeeper is under the impression that he is now engaged to Walsh, and is reported to be closely scrutinizing the men's beach volleyball competition in search of a suitable best man.
Much has been made of the possibility that, for the first time, China may top the USA in the final medals table. They currently lead the medals race with six golds to the Americans' three. The US points out that they still have more medals in total when you include silvers, bronzes, pewters, and the one for second prize in a zucchini-growing competition that Tyson Gay found in a planter outside his room in the Olympic Village.
Cycling: Nicole Cook clinches Great Britain's first gold of the Games in the women's road race. In the finest tradition of the sport, three-quarters of the field, four judges, the guy who hangs medals around people's necks, and the pace car driver's grandmother are disqualified for doping.
Abhinav Bindra makes history by winning India's first ever individual Olympic gold in the 10m air pistol. Whereas most athletes in these circumstances would receive a congratulatory phone call from their country's head of state, Bindra gets a curt e-mail from his mother admonishing him for playing games when he should be studying. In his next event, Bindra can be spotted sheepishly making notes from a medical textbook in between rounds.
Led by Michael Phelps, the USA crushes France in their grudge match to win gold in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay. Expert examination of TV replays reveals that Phelps expended more calories celebrating than he did in the actual race.
China, still insisting that all the members of their women's gymnastics team are 16, submits a request to the IOC to allow diaper-changing breaks in between events. Speaking through an interpreter, Chinese coach Lu Shan Zhen denies rumors that their three reserve gymnasts are an embryo, a zygote, and a twinkle in her father's eye.
It emerges that Lin Miaoke, the little girl who sang "Ode to the Motherland" at the opening ceremony, lip-synched another girl's performance. Apparently Yang Peiyi, who actually did the singing, was pulled at the last moment because of her crooked teeth. Lord Coe, the chairman of the British organizing committee for the 2012 Olympics, immediately announces that Yang has been signed to perform at the opening ceremony in London.
Michael Phelps, swimming his 84th race in three days, eases off in his semi-final of the 200m butterfly, winning it in merely an Olympic record time. A minute and a half later he follows this up by winning the 200m freestyle for a record tenth career gold and his fourth world record in Beijing. However, unhappy with the margin by which he beat the record, he jumps back into the pool and swims the entire race again, bettering his previous time by three seconds.
The Chinese continue their domination in the gymnastics hall by winning the men's team event. Meanwhile, the US takes gold in the men's "Woo Yeah! Show Them How It's Done! USA, Baby! That's How We Roll!" team event for the 29th straight Olympics.
An item on the BBC website points out that if Michael Phelps were his own country, he would currently be fourth in the overall medals table. Encouraged by this, Phelps applies and is accepted for membership in the UN, and France surrenders to him on principle.
Chastened by their nation's loss of gold and bragging rights to the US in the men's freestyle relay, the French 4x200m women's relay team holds a press conference to clarify that, unlike their male counterparts, they have not come to Beijing to crush the Americans but merely to encroach on their personal space a bit. This piece of diplomacy fails to yield results, however, as the French finish a distant fifth.
In a matchup with no political overtones whatsoever, Georgia defeated Russia in women's beach volleyball. The nobility of the two pairs in continuing with the match despite the war between their two countries is somewhat dimmed by the disclosure that the Georgian women are actually Brazilians. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev announces that his country is studying reports of aggression against the Russian emigré community in São Paulo, and refuses to rule out military action against Brazil.
Back in the swimming pool, China's Pang Jiaying wins her semi-final in the women's 100m freestyle, but is disqualified for a false start. China responds by invading Taiwan.
Still fretting over their position in the medals table, but encouraged by their teams' performances so far in basketball, baseball, softball, and beach volleyball, the US Olympic Committee lobbies the IOC to include in the next Games even more sports that are only played in America, including arena football, NASCAR racing, and horseshoes. Not to be outdone, the Canadians file an application to make their version of football an Olympic sport, on the grounds that it would give them at least an 8% chance of winning a medal.
The end of the first week's competition finally sees the start of the track and field events in the Olympic Stadium, which has lain unused since the opening ceremony. Sprint stars Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, and Tyson Gay come safely through their 100m heats, but admit afterwards that seeing the stadium without hordes of crazed drummers and a guy running sideways around the roof takes a bit of getting used to.
Three US swimmers (including you-know-who) win gold in quick succession. This upsets the medal ceremony sound crew, who are getting fed up with putting the "Star-Spangled Banner" CD back in its jewel case only to have to keep taking it out again.
Bizarre scoring in the women's all-around gymnastics. American Nastia Liukin prances delightfully across the balance beam like an angel in a meadow of cherry blossoms, and receives a 13.675. She is followed by China's Jiang Yuyuan, who barely makes it onto the beam without falling, spends a few painful seconds lurching and wobbling back and forth like a demented gibbon, misjudges her dismount completely, and disappears down an open manhole into the arena basement. This display is promptly rewarded with a 16.125. Gymnastics legend Nellie Kim, head of the technical committee, marches sternly over to the judges and warns them that if they don't get real she'll make them do the beam exercise wearing only their shirts. The scores are quietly revised.
Dr Dreadful has been greatly enjoying the first week of the Olympics, but there is a party of four waiting to use the table he is sitting at and the waiter is getting annoyed, as attending to them is keeping him from slipping back into the kitchen to watch the weightlifting competition. On his way out, the Doc will take just a few more seconds of his time to book a table for next weekend, so that he can report on the rest of the Games.
(Apparently China is doing in the weightlifting arena what the Americans are doing in the swimming pool. Oddly, though, the sound people never seem to tire of playing "March of the Volunteers".)Powered by Sidelines