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BEIJING 2008 : BEST OF THE BLOG

Australia leads in medals per capita

August 12, 2008|Chuck Culpepper; Kevin Baxter; Randy Harvey; Helene Elliott

Everybody says the great medal-count derby of Beijing 2008 will boil down to China versus the United States, but as usual, everybody's wrong.

Neither China nor the United States has any chance at the top honor. Oh, they'll have their little scuffle in the Medals Table, all right.

They just won't even sniff contention in the humble Medals Per Capita Table, which divides national population by total medals -- mindful of the inarguable fact that China, with 1.33 billion people, or the United States, with 303.8 million, should get more raw medals than, say, Australia, with 20.6 million.

As Monday evening in Beijing brought a fresh "official" medal table, the MPC Table looked as follows:

1. Australia (5 medals) -- 4,120,171

2. Croatia (1 medal) -- 4,491,543

3. Georgia (1 medal) -- 4,630,841

4. Czech Republic (2 medals) -- 5,110,456

5. The Netherlands (3 medals) -- 5,548,438

Side note: The laggard United States had 12 medals, for 25,318,721, and the Lilliputian Chinese gamely had clawed for 14 medals but still looked stuck with 95,003,186.

-- Chuck Culpepper

Land of '8' not so lucky for this Octopus

An early contender for the best name in the Beijing Olympics is featherweight boxer Prince Octopus Dzanie of Ghana.

He's apparently not a prince of a guy, though, since, after missing some training sessions, he was briefly expelled from the national team by Coach Roberto Ibanez Chavez of Cuba. Nor is he much of a boxer, apparently, given his performance in a first-round loss to Chavez's countryman, Idel Torriente, in a bout that was stopped several times because of problems with Dzanie's headgear.

"I was nervous in the beginning because this is my first time at the Olympics," Torriente said. "But then I realized I was better than him [and] I could relax and win easily."

Ouch.

Said the Prince: "It was unfortunate that the headgear broke, but I wasn't thinking about it. I was thinking about the fight."

-- Kevin Baxter

Subcontinent superstar

Abhinav Bindra won the gold medal Monday in the 10-meter air rifle competition. He is 25, comes from Chandigarh, India, wears glasses and is ranked 17th in the world. He was in fourth place before the final round.

But what makes the story interesting is that India, in its 108-year Olympic history, had won only three silver medals in individual sports: two in 1900 and one in 2004.

It has won eight field hockey gold medals, but none since 1980. If cricket were an Olympic sport, it would have won more than a few of those. But as Indian tennis player Leander Paes told Bloomberg News, "Cricket is a religion, it's not a sport."

Thus, Bindra was heavenly honored Monday when the Board of Control for Cricket in India rewarded him with a $59,000 bonus.

-- Randy Harvey

The day 'I met Kobe'

Sprinter Tyson Gay is the American-record holder in the 100-meter dash and a contender for Olympic gold despite a hamstring tear he suffered at the U.S. trials, but on Monday he sounded more like a kid who is having the time of his life.

Asked during a news conference what the experience of competing here means to him, Gay mentioned the camaraderie he has enjoyed while meeting athletes from other sports. One encounter, in particular, stunned him.

"I met Kobe Bryant," Gay said, incredulously. "He came up to me and asked me how my leg was doing, and that was like crazy, you know.

"I asked him if I could take a picture with him for my memories," Gay said. "He said, 'I'm going to check you out and keep you in my heart.'

Gay also said he took note of where Bryant was walking during the parade of nations Friday and told U.S. men's track Coach Bubba Thornton, "I need to get near Kobe so I can get on TV."

He said Thornton told him to stay where he was and that the cameras would find him -- and indeed, they did.

-- Helene Elliott

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