Golden Nose

I am back home now, tired but excited at the prospect of developing a bunch of drawings and ideas into finished pictures. At the risk of sounding like a Team GB prospect for 2012 the hard work starts now. I have had an amazing experience in Beijing and after watching the whole team leave the airport in their gold-nose Boeing for their press conference at Heathrow it struck me how accessible the whole games have been in contrast to a World Cup tournament.

It has been a hugely successful team performance for UK sport. Just as I am going to lock myself away in my studio, many of the athletes will begin the process of training and working to build on their individual successes here. While all the focus and attention shifts to London 2012, I will be concentrating on building a retrospective story of these unique games in Beijing.

my moment of fame - an interview on 5live 'Drive' with Peter Allen, Darren Campbell and Dom Joly outside the birds nest stadium after Usain Bolts' third world record.

One World One Dream

So this is the last day of the Olympic Games. I have completed a full 17 days of incredible live sport in a country where anything less than number one in the medal table was not an option. The Chinese have hosted a brilliant games where Team GB have exceeded their planned medal haul. World records have been set and new stars emerged. Dreams of beating them move to London 2012 with Boris in the Birds Nest tonight. Lets hope his baton performance is better than the relay team. Then the TV crews pack up their cables and the rubbish is recycled from the stadium.

When I am home on Tuesday I will post a bunch of drawings from my time here.

The mens marathon is nearly finished in blistering heat, and I have just spotted three athletes taking a quick dip to cool down before their final lap into the stadium.

Boxing/Table Tennis/Volley Ball/Weightlifting

I am having some Internet problems, which is why I haven’t posted for a couple of days. Apologies. I have seen boxing, volley ball, table tennis, weightlifting more athletics and a beach volley ball final since my last post. I giggled my way through the table tennis watching the ridiculous quality of shots. I invested a lot of my teenage years down the youth club playing table tennis and thought I had a decent top spin smash, but this was just mad. Fantastic.

Then volley ball; Cuba v Serbia and Brazil v Japan. I can’t think of anything better than this. I particularly enjoyed the post match interviews.

Weightlifting, (105kg big boys), Steiner for Germany won. What a story for him. He competed for Austria in Athens and then fell out with their federation. He then married a German and started to compete for them. His wife was killed in a car crash in 2007 and he won gold here yesterday for her. On the podium he held a photo of his wife and the whole team was in tears.

It was chucking it down at the beach volleyball final so I had to resort to photography (at least that’s what I am telling Florence.) I have mixed feelings about it. It was a bit like a Radio 1 road show from the 80’s on a beach in Blackpool where the crowd is made to have fun. Make some noise for yooooooo esssssssss ayyyyyyyyy.

Outside the games I’ve had an unpleasant encounter in a toilet with a nutter (something I can only share with my closest friends), and I have seen an Iranian message of goodwill immediately stamped out by security services outside the workers stadium before the weightlifting. I have discovered Wangfujing Dajie, which is Oxford Street on EPO. I read in the newspaper that 60% of all Chinese will be urban dwellers by 2030. That is 900,000,000 people living in cities. The 4th ring road around Beijing is about as far out of London as the M25 and there is nothing but high-rise buildings in between. So not only does the population stretch out it reaches up. It is really impossible to give an impression of just how huge and densely populated Beijing is. Rush hour on the Tokyo underground is an experience but the subway here is unbelievable.

I hit an Olympic wall yesterday. I have been to two events a day for the last week, and I suddenly felt a claustrophobic need to escape. No more ‘one world one dream’ songs on every tube station, I couldn’t face another struggle to find my way round the impenetrable public bus system to each venue. To get to the beach volley ball this morning a volunteer walked with me to all four exits Dongzhimen station to find the K32 Olympic bus to the venue. After 30 mins she admitted she could not help and I jumped in a cab. In all it took me 2 hours to get across the city. I just needed a break from it all, but in Beijing there is no escape. I am constantly working out what is taking place at which venue at any moment in time. For instance the BMX final was postponed due to the rain today so I could try and scalp a ticket tomorrow. I am digging deep to complete my own Olympic marathon. I am off out again now to see some athletics. I love sport.

Stadium Magic

I am completely in awe of anyone who dedicates their life to becoming an Olympian. This weekend I have watched marathon runners, a 100m world record, a 300m steeple chase world record, 6 women jump over 5m in the triple jump in the same competition, a 10,000m race that makes anything else in the world seem unnecessary, fencing and the keirin cycle race, where man and technology work their magic together. All of it brilliant, inspiring and it just enhances my belief that sport is a means to a better life is so many different ways.

Sorry, did I go a bit Zen on you then? Here are some pictures to explain it better.

and finally spare a thought for Mr Chen who has cycled for 7 years a total of 65,000km on his bike to celebrate the Olympic Games. That is beyond the call of duty!

Marathons and Confucius

This is all a bit amazing now. In between gymnastics, wrestling and badminton I managed a trip to Confucius' house. He believed in finding a path to enlightenment. For Paula Radcliffe it is a blue path that leads to the National Stadium on Sunday morning. The heat is so intense, even though the start time is 7.30am it is going to be brutal.

What a great sport badminton is to watch. China beat Korea in a partisan home match in the University Gymnasium. Having got over my initial stress about wanting to be in every place at once I have now settled into experiencing a Chinese games. All the TV concentrates on home interest which is fine by me, because that means lots of table tennis/badminton/volley ball/basketball. And I am enjoying all the live events like crazy.

I have loads of drawings to put on line soon. I was drawing yesterday in the Lama Temple. A controversial temple in as much as it is the front for the Chinese government to show how they are protecting the culture of Tibet. It is a great place, but I had a feeling of being watched all the time I was there. I was approached by a dozen people some in uniform, some not but all waiting to see if I was going to draw something which might give them a reason to arrest me. But sadly not, I was drawing the building and the prayers and the group of hand held Olympic tours passing by.

Womens individual gym finals today and what a session it was. Becky Downing performed brilliantly to earn a 12th place in her first finals at the age of 16. I managed to get a quick word with her afterwards as she was mobbed by Chinese fans desperate for a photo. I moved around a bit, bunked in to the posh seats until I was moved on then found my way into the press box for the medal ceremony.

Beautiful weather today, just the weather for an Olympic mascot carnival complete with bubble machine!