Adams upgraded to gold

August 14th, 2012 at 8:15 am by David Farrar

One News reports:

Valerie Adams says she was overcome with emotion at the news that she has been awarded the Olympic gold medal in the women’s shot put.

Adams has been awarded the medal, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced today that Belarus’s Nadzeya Ostapchuk, 33, was excluded from competition following a positive test for metenolone.

“I am speechless with this news. It is taking me some time to take this in,” said Adams from her base in Switzerland.

“It is huge and I am absolutely thrilled of course. It makes me extraordinarily proud as a New Zealander.

“It is also encouraging for those athletes, like myself who are proud to compete cleanly, that the system works and doping cheats are caught,” she said.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee Secretary General Kereyn Smith congratulated Adams on her gold medal and says the honour is well deserved. She added that the vast majority of New Zealand athletes are proud to compete cleanly on the world’s stage. 

New Zealand Chef de Mission Dave Currie said the news was wonderful and he is very proud of Adams.

Adams threw 20.70m in the shot put final at the Olympic Stadium on 6 August and was awarded silver behind the Belarusian who had taken gold with 21.36m. It was the first time Adams had been beaten by Ostapchuk in nearly two years.

Very very pleased for Adams. Thankfully Ostapchuk is the only medalist to fail a drug test to date.

Ostapchuk had been openly speculated about as a drug cheat, due to her sudden improvement in performance, and I’m not sure too many were deeply surprised by the finding.

I was on NewstalkZb with Pam Corkery the day she beat Adams for the gold, and we were asked about possible drug cheating. I was fairly diplomatic and said her improvement has been suspicious but we shouldn’t be bad losers, and give her the benefit of the doubt unless she subsequently fails.

Pam, rather hilariously, said that Ostapchuk should be required to give a semen sample as her drugs test. Both Larry Williams and I took some time to stop laughing. Yes, rather cruel, but also rather funny – and the confirmation Ostapchuk was using Metenolone which has androgenic properties, means that it is self-inflicted.

It is interesting that Ostapchuk passed drugs tests on 25 July, 26 July and 1 August but failed on 5 August and 6 August. The tests she passed were done before the games. I hope they inquire into the testing agency that did those ones.

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From an Australian newspaper

August 7th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

From Facebook. An actual scan from three NSW Daily Telegraph. Poor Aussies.

For those interested we are now third on the weighted medals per capita table behind Jamaica and Slovenia.

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Medals per capita

August 4th, 2012 at 4:19 pm by David Farrar

There is a website called Medals per capita. According to it NZ is:

  • 1st for weighted medals per capita (gold=3, silver = 2, bronze = 1)
  • 1st for gold medals per capita
  • 2nd for all medals per capita
  • 8th for medals by GDP

The site is maintained by NZer Craig Nevil-Manning.

Nice to see us doing pretty well.

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Win at all costs?

August 3rd, 2012 at 9:31 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Winning a gold medal at the Olympics should be one of the happiest moments of an athlete’s life.

But that was not the case for Chinese diver Wu Minxia.

After winning the women’s synchronized three-metre springboard competition in London on Sunday, the 26-year-old Olympian got devastating news: her family decided it was the right time to tell her that her grandparents had died – over a year ago – and her mother had breast cancer for eight years, AFP reported.

Wu had no idea. Her father admitted the news was kept from her to avoid any distractions during her quest for gold.

“Wu called us after her grandmother died, I gritted my teeth and told her: ‘Everything’s fine, there aren’t any problems’,” father Wu Jueming told the Shanghai Morning Post.

“It was essential to tell this white lie. We never talk about family matters with our daughter.”

Her mother defended the decision, saying she waited until her cancer was in remission before telling Wu.

The story of the Wu family’s secrets has added to a public “backlash against the win-at-all-costs mentally” in China.

Thousands of Chinese web users took to Sina Weibo – a Chinese microblog similar to Twitter – to condemn what they say is an example of the harshness of China’s government-funded sport system, AFP reported.

I guess she didn’t see her grandmother often! But good to see that there is a backlash to this sort of mentality.

“Apart from making people crazy, our Olympic strategy also makes people lose their humanity,” one online commentator said.

“Our national sports system is disgusting,” another said.

Cultural change is occurring, albeit slowly. Many are also angry at the badminton team being told to lose, so they would get an easier opponent in the next round.

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Aus v NZ

August 2nd, 2012 at 5:37 pm by David Farrar

Heh, so true.

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Boris on the Olympics

July 31st, 2012 at 8:48 am by David Farrar

London Mayor Boris Johnson has written 20 reasons why the Olympics have been great so far. They include:

We have just stunned the world with what was the best opening ceremony ever produced – and by quite a margin. Danny Boyle’s filmic mixture of Blake, Dickens, Tolkien, JK Rowling etc etc has confirmed London’s status as the global capital of art and culture. Right-wing critics should be reassured that the meaning of the Mary Poppins-Dementors clash has been widely misunderstood. I am told by one figure close to proceedings that the bellicose nanny figure was intended by Danny Boyle to stand for Mrs Thatcher in her struggles with the NUM and other militant trade unionists. So that’s all right, then, eh!

Heh

We certainly didn’t spend the Beijing-style sums on fireworks – since the Chinese blew roughly the sam e amount as the British defence budget – but we unquestionably had the same global éclat.

Fireworks are great, but you need more than that. Not to say China didn’t do a great ceremony also.

As I write these words there are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade immortalised by Canaletto. They are glistening like wet otters and the water is plashing off the brims of the spectators’ sou’westers. The whole thing is magnificent and bonkers.

Wet otters. I love it. I think the last sentence applies equally to Boris. I do hope he becomes PM one day – the world would be a far more interestign place.

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30 to 1 on Boris

July 26th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

What are the odds of a UFO sighting during the London Olympics opening ceremony? Or of the final torch bearer tripping as they ascend to light the flame? Or would you prefer a more traditional wager on the battle for gold between Russia and Spain in synchronized swimming duos?

London betting houses will offer odds on almost anything, including all 26 sports at the games, from the 100-metre dash to fencing, from diving to football. The industry expects to handle a record 100 million pounds (NZ$197 million) in wagers during the July 27-August 12 competition – even some pretty outlandish parlays.

A shame our gaming laws are so restrictive.

William Hill offers perhaps the longest odds of the games: 1000-to-1 that a flying saucer will appear over Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony. Tough luck, presumably, if aliens don’t make first contact until the next day.

Other longshots get slightly better odds, like 250-to-1 that every team in the 4×400-metre relay final drops the baton, or 33-to-1 that flamboyant London Mayor Boris Johnson accidentally lights his hair on fire with the Olympic torch.

I’d be tempted to place some money on Boris self-immolating :-)

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A small step forward

July 13th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Saudi Arabia is to send female athletes to the Olympics for the first time, with a judoka and an 800m runner representing the kingdom in London, the International Olympic Committee said.

Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, who will compete in the 78-kg category in judo, and teenager Sarah Attar will be the first Saudi women ever to take part after talks between the IOC and the country.

“This is very positive news and we will be delighted to welcome these two athletes in London in a few weeks time,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge in a statement.

“The IOC has been striving to ensure a greater gender balance at the Olympic Games, and today’s news can be seen as an encouraging evolution.”

Thursday’s decision means that every country competing in the July 27-Aug. 12 Olympics will be represented by both male and female athletes.

At the Atlanta Games in 1996, 26 nations sent no female athletes, the figure falling to just three in Beijing in 2008.

Progress, but said we are 12 years into the 21st century and this is still an issue.

In recent months human rights groups urged the IOC to ban Saudi Arabia from the Games unless it agreed to send women.

Powerful Saudi clerics denounce women for taking part in sport, saying it goes against their nature.

Women in Saudi Arabia are regarded as minors and require the permission of their guardian – father, brother, or husband – to leave the country and in some cases even to work. They are not allowed to drive.

Attar, 17, said she was honoured by the prospect of competing for her country at London 2012.

“A big inspiration for participating in the Olympic Games is being one of the first women for Saudi Arabia to be going,” she said at her training base in San Diego, California.

“It’s such a huge honour and I hope that it can really make some big strides for women over there to get more involved in sport,” she told the official Olympic website (www.olympic.org).

Hopefully it will be a powerful symbol to Saudis, and a building block to a less repressive regime.

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Should Postorius run

July 8th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS editorial:

The question of whether the double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius should be eligible to run in the Olympic Games has been needlessly turned into a technical and ethical conundrum.

The 25-year-old South African sprinter, born without fibula bones, had both legs amputated at mid-shin as a baby because he would never have been able to walk on them. Now he runs – on J-shaped carbon-fibre prosthetics. He holds the world records for his disabled-athlete class in the 100m, 200m and 400m.

He is an amazing athlete, who could have spent his life in a wheel chair but instead has pushed himself to his limit.

Those who argue for his inclusion suggest that it might help erase the lines between people with physical disabilities and those without. But such reasoning is specious and, worse, supports him by patronising him. There is no erasing the line between Pistorius and the other runners against whom he will line up in London: he does not have the legs that birth gave him. It may make able-bodied people feel warm and fuzzy to say he’s just like the rest of us. He is not. His legs were made in Iceland. …

The nature of athletic competition is that like contends with like. Sports’ governing bodies come up with divisions – by weight and age, for example – all the time, in order to ensure that undue differences are erased. The essence of the Olympics’ purest form, track and field events, is that – gender apart – competition is open to all-comers.

The corollary is that competitors show up with nothing other than what their genes and training regimes have equipped them with. The now-sophisticated drug-testing regime – and the ignominy that attends on those exposed as drug cheats – attest to our desire that competitors are not advantaged by science.

The question of whether Pistorius is advantaged or disadvantaged does not require answering. The fact that it even needs to be asked renders it redundant. One look at him is enough to tell you that he has no more a place in those races than somebody with a jet pack strapped to his back.

I’m tempted to agree. I have the greatest respect for disabled athletes, but in the Olympics any use of technology shouldn’t be allowed.

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The Olympic Dinner

June 29th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I was in my penguin suit (no jokes please) last night for the Olympic Gala dinner at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland. This is a major fund-raising dinner for the NZ Olympic team. I was a guest of ANZ Bank, who kindly invited me.

The night was an excellent one. We got to see the NZ team uniforms launched, John Hawkesby was the genial MC for the night, and there was great music, food and drink.

I did suffer somewhat from a sense of inadequacy. I was seated between two Sarahs (very much a case of the thorn between two roses). One has an Olympic gold medal and may just be the nicest person in New Zealand, and the other (equally nice) is responsible for around $54 billion of mortgages, which you know is not bad for a young woman in business. High achievers is not quite the right word for them, but a couple of levels above that. I felt a bit like the dunce who by mistake ends up the top class :-)

The dinner is hosted by the PM, and there were lots of laughs when he announced that now the Mixed Ownership Model legislation had been passed, the Government was going to sell off two of the five Olympic rings.

There was in fact a sell-off, or a charity auction to raise money for the Olympic team. I was amazed that dinner with the PM went for $26,000, while 14 nights accommodation anywhere in the world in a luxury hotel of your choice went for only $18,500. I know which one I’d rather win :-)

Also amusing was when John Hawkesby said that Paula Bennett had told him off for his slurs against West Auckland people, and that if he didn’t apologise she would head-butt him :-)

Only a month until the Olympics starts. I am looking forward to them. One factoid from last night I did not know is that we have (off memory) 23 competitors who are ranked in the top three in the world for their event, and in 2008 it was just nine. That is no guarantee of medals, but is a sign of the potential we have to do well.

The must see race for me will be Nick Willis in the 1500m.

Anyway was a superb night’s entertainment. My thanks to ANZ for their wonderful hospitality. ANZ are one of the official partners of the NZ Olympic and Commonwealth teams. They also sponsor Pairs Rowers Hamish Bond and Eric Murray, Rower Emma Twigg, and Cyclists Natasha Hansen and Sam Webster plus Paralympics swimmers Rebecca Dubber and Cameron Leslie.

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Rio 2016

October 3rd, 2009 at 8:36 am by David Farrar

As I said earlier in the week, I’m glad the Olympics are not going back to the US so soon. Really no country should host them more than once in a generation.

Rio will be the first South American Olympics.

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The American Olympics

September 30th, 2009 at 6:08 am by David Farrar

President Obama’s decision to go to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics, must help their chances of winning.

I’m not sure though it is desirable for the Olympics to keep returning to the US so often.

The US hosted the Olympics in St Louis in 1904 and then LA in 1932. A 52 year break and then LA again in 1984 and only 12 years until Atlanta in 1996.

If Chicago gets it in 2016, then that is three US hostings out of the last nine.

Of course it is technically cities not countries that host it, but in reality they are national bids.

The four bids for 2016 were scored by the IOC as:

  1. Tokyo 8.3
  2. Madrid 8.1
  3. Chicago 7.0
  4. Rio de Janeiro 6.3

It will be interesting to see who wins.

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Olympic Sports that should not be

August 31st, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Raybon Kan has a funny but largely correct column of what sports should not be in the Olympics:

Soccer. The Olympics should be the pinnacle of achievement. If not, get out. For tennis, it’s a Grand Slam. For basketball, it’s an NBA championship. For football, the World Cup. In the Olympics, football is a patronising under-23 tournament. If we wanted to see under-age competitors, we’d watch gymnastics.

I could not agree more here. If winning the gold medal is not the most aspired for achievement in that sport, then don’t have it in the Olympics.

Hockey. This is the best example of a sport really being improved by ice. Handball. As far as I can tell, handball is football with everyone cheating. Or it’s waterpolo without the water. If we must have a sport for people without skills, I’d rather see dodgeball, or even tag.

Ice Hockey is great! I don’t mind hockey at the Olympics but generally think team sports are a bad match, unless it is very small teams such as relays or rowing where no one is potentially a spare part.

Dodgeball would be a great Olypmic sport :-)

Rhythmic gymnastics. The proper place for this is the opening ceremony. Equestrian. I don’t mean to be speciesist but let’s let the Olympics be about humans. Horses, giddy up. You’re outta here. The pinnacle of achievement for a horse is the Triple Crown or Melbourne Cup. Besides, any horse that plaits its own hair is obviously taking some serious stimulants.

If horses are in, they might as well include dogs catching frisbees, or dolphins in the swimming. There’s a reason Mark Todd can compete in this many Olympics: the horses do the work. Is it a summer sport if you can compete at the highest level, wearing that many layers of formal clothing, like the admiral of a brass band? I’m sure there’s a Siegfried and Roy/Dr Doolittle ingenuity to training a horse to be this clever. But do it in Vegas, not the Olympics.

I expect Raybon will receive many outraged missives from horse riders on this!

And how do you think poor countries feel when they see equestrian? The horses eat better than most of their own citizens/refugees/insurgents. Entire developing continents probably watch equestrian because it looks yummy.

Beach volleyball. I feel like I’m watching a bad teenage movie set at the beach. And I am quite a perv. Yet, even as a perv, I have yet to be motivated to watch beach volleyball any longer than it takes to change the channel. The only good thing you can say about beach volleyball is that it positively influenced what women wear in the high jump and pole vault.

Heh indeed.

Whitewater kayaking. Slalom skiing minus the excitement.

Walking. No appeal, no question. Gone. Walking is a bunch of people urgently looking for the toilet, wanting to hide the fact they’re busting. It wouldn’t even be good sped up, with music from Benny Hill. And if a judge can keep pace with a competitor, while studying their feet, and holding a flag, the competitor is not doing anything special. When I get out of the car, and walk to a cafe, no onlooker would say I am making this transition in the spirit of the Olympics. When you do your grocery shopping, you are not performing an Olympic sport, with the extra challenge of weights.

This is also bound to get him many outraged letters!

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Medals per capita

August 17th, 2008 at 3:09 pm by David Farrar

The LA Times reports on how it is a trans-Tasman battle for medals per capita with Australia 2nd and NZ 3rd. I suspect we will slip back by the end of the Olympics though.

If Michael Phelps was a nation, he’d definitely win the medals per capita count :-)

Later today Phelps competes for his 8th gold medal. It is the 4 x 100 m medley relay. It was very close in the heats.

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Finally some medals

August 17th, 2008 at 8:23 am by David Farrar

I was in a strategic planning meeting all day yesterday so watching the Olympics on replay, but great to see the news that the Ever-Swindells won gold, as well as Valerie Vii.

It was a day for close wins with Phelps winning his seventh gold by 0.01s and the Ever-Swindells retaining their Olympic crowns also by 0.01s – my God. And I reckon Mahi Drysdale would have won gold not bronze if he wasn’t sick as a dog.

But Vii’s win was amazing – she set a personal best and crushed the opposition. Peaking in the Olympic final is the time to do it.

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Bits and Bytes

August 14th, 2008 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Lots to cover in brief. First the Australian political party leader who told off his 17 year old daughter on Facebook, exposing her drunken party photos to the world! Also wonderful is the conversation between two of Alexander Downer’s children on Facebook about why he was so pompous in a photo :-)

Bernard Hickey complains (as I often have done) that we are paying $79 million into TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 yet they won’t make them available on Sky TV. He quotes former TVNZ Head of News Paul Norris in support – they have a reponsibility to make them widely available and could extend them with a flick of a switch to 700,000 households overnight.

Andrew Bolt has a fascinating exchange with an academic over the “stolen generation”. While there certainly is much in Australia’s past that was deplorable (as in NZ), it is apparent that certain portions of it such as the “stolen generation” have been over-hyped. He cites the example of one Aboriginal leader who claimed to be part of the “stolen” generation who was “taken from my family” but in fact was put up for adoption by her father who could not cope with five children.

Lindsay Perigo writes a moving account of his last face to face meal with Anna Woolf, who is dying of brain cancer. Even just reading his account makes the eyes water – I can’t imagine how hard it is for those who are close to Anna, let alone Anna herself.

The Telegraph points out that if Michael Phelps was a country, he would be coming 5th on the Olympic medal table – ahead of Italy, Russia, Australian and Great Britain.

Frog Blog joins Nick Smith on wondering why DOC is spending so much money on a new corporate brand, when it has just laid off 60 workers to save money.

Liberty Scott exposes Sue Kedgley’s scaremongering over cellphone towers. Good God, this debate was settled over a decade ago in terms of science. I’d be more inclined to take Sue’s campaign against the towers seriously if she’d give up her cellphone.

Lindsay Mitchell covers the launch of a second Maori based party. The Hapu Party is led by David Rankin, and three policies to date:

  1. To have Maori eligible for the pension at age 56, because of the lower life-expectancy of Maori
  2. To introduce a flat rate 18% personal tax and GST rate.
  3. To immediately allocate all treaty settlement money directly to hapu and marae

They have me with policy No 2. Policy No 3 is between Iwi and Hapu to resolve in my opinion, and Policy No 1 has no chance. Worryingly for the Maori Party, Rankin also talks of financial irregularities with a Maori Party MP and a SFO complaint.

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Agenda dumped for Olympics

August 13th, 2008 at 6:20 pm by David Farrar

Good God. TVNZ have cancelled this week’s Agenda for repeats of the Olympics.

Is this an example of the Charter at work?

I mean it is not as if there isn’t an election about to be held. Oh wait, there is.

I could understand if it was for live Olympics. But 10 am Sunday in NZ is 6am Sunday in Beijing so it is definitely only repeats.

Two months before an election, TVNZ dumps for a week the only in depth political show for sports repeats.

Our tax dollars at work.

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Phelps breaks the record

August 13th, 2008 at 3:26 pm by David Farrar

Michael Phelps has just got his 4th gold medal at these Olympics for a total of 10 Olympics golds. Four atheletes had won nine gold medals each (including Carl Lewis) but he is the first to win 10, and may go on to win 14.

So far he has won gold in the 400m individual medley, 4 x 100m freestyle relay, 200m freestyle and 200 m butterfly. He competes later today in the 4 x 200 m freestyle relay, and later in the 200m individual medley, 100m butterfly and 4 x 100 m medley relay.

What is also amazing is all four gold medals to date have broken the world records. He now holds six world records.

In 2004 he got six golds and two bronzes. The two bronzes were both in races he has already got gold for in 2008. However the relays depend on the whole team, so nothing is certain.

UPDATE: And in the 4 x 200 m freestyle relay Phelps got the team off to a huge start and they smashed the world record to get the gold. First ever relay under seven minutes – more than five seconds off the old record.

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So what else is faked

August 13th, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

China has made great strides in recent years, but one is reminded of how big the remaining gulf is, with the story over the fake singing at the Olympics opening:

The girl in the red dress with the pigtails, called Lin Miaoke, 9, and from a Beijing primary school, has become a national sensation since Friday night, giving interviews to all the most popular newspapers.

But the show’s musical designer felt forced to set the record straight. He gave an interview to Beijing radio saying the real singer was a seven-year-old girl who had won a gruelling competition to perform the anthem, a patriotic song called “Hymn to the Motherland”.

At the last moment a member of the Chinese politburo who was watching a rehearsal pronounced that the winner, a girl called Yang Peiyi, might have a perfect voice but was unsuited to the lead role because of her buck teeth.

So, on the night, while a pre-recording of Yang Peiyi singing was played, Lin Miaoke, who has already featured in television advertisements, was seen but not heard.

The one good thing is that the musical designer who revealed this, felt he was able to do so without disappearing into the night as once would have been he case.

But really to have politburo members choosing the child singer!

And the fireworks were also faked in part:

Officials have already admitted that the pictures of giant firework footprints which marched across Beijing towards the stadium on Friday night were prerecorded, digitally enhanced and inserted into footage beamed across the world.

Now again the good thing is through blogs and elsewhere Chinese citizens are able to debate whether or not they think these actions were good, or not. But they do do real damage.

People like me wonder if the hosts are so willing to fake the singing and fake the fireworks, how much confidence can you have in them to have discouraged steroid use and the like? The technology is always somewhat ahead of the detection, so even the best efforts of international authorities will be limited if a host country condones anything in its desire to be the best.

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Olympics

August 10th, 2008 at 8:15 am by David Farrar

When Wellington weather is crap, a buffet of Olympics watching is well timed. The rowing heats especially have been superb watching even though the Kiwis have generally crushed their opposition to date.

Emma Twigg’s race was probably the closest as she came from behind to lead in the last 150 metres or so.

The swimming has also been a must see – especially Michael Phelps to see if he can win eight medals again.

Once again I love My Sky. Just fast forward through to the races you want to see!

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How they came up with the logo for the Beijing games

April 4th, 2008 at 1:22 pm by David Farrar

olympics1.JPG

olympics2.JPG

olympics2.JPGolympics4.JPG

olympics5.JPG

Got sent these by e-mail. Harsh but funny.

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