It ‘s a masterpiece!” Bruce subtly bellowed form the booth when Phelps splashed away from the rest in the 200 metres freestyle in world record time. There are a number of very big works still to come form the artistic genius of the deep end that is Michael Phelps. Bruce summed up the thoughts of swim-loving Australians who are dreaming that Phelps can get that golden eight. Speaking of dreams, Thorpe v Phelps … I dangle that before a nation licking its lips at an unimaginable prospect.

The superlatives were thick like smog in the Beijing air at the Water Cube yesterday. Our golden “Lethal” Leisel found the redemption that had held her in solitary purgatory since a dud swim in Athens. With “Lethal” out of limbo the good news flooded in. The Aussie women snared silver in the 10-metre synchro diving and on the horse, in a cliff hanger, Lucinda Fredericks pulled in another silver. Our brown out in bronze was steaming, headed up by Robin “Ding Dong” Bell in C1 slalom.

Elsewhere, there was further success for the Aussie beach volley-ball tilt. The Buckets, Cook and Barnet, are into the knockout round and The Spades, Slack and Schacht, are after more redemption when they take on the tricky Brazilians tonight.

Sadly there were some duds on the road to our golden glory yesterday “Little” Lleyton Hewitt (known in China as “Small” Lleyton Hewitt) bowed out. His dream of gold is over as he went down to the big noise of men’s tennis, Rafael Nadal.

Casey Dellacqua and Sam Stosur were also bundled out in the trying conditions.

Bogut’s Boomers seem to have become unglued loosing to Argentina. They will now need a hoop miracle to medal. Our softball side is struggling. The men’s water polo team, the Sea Cucumbers, blew it against Spain. Russell Mark, our double trap shooter, was robbed by rowdy home-town gee-up merchants in the crowd who swayed the judges to see obvious misses as hits. Spare a thought for “Punchy” Tunstall’s All Stars going round in the sweet science at the Beijing Workers’ Auditorium. They are being monstered by opponents and judges who have lost all form with the scoring pencil and paper.

Today the lazy susan of Olympic sport spins at a dizzying speed. Phelps is in action, creating another “big masterpiece” the 200 fly. Our Bruce has something “special” up his sleeve today if the expected happens. This is the event that our pre-games thumper Nick Darcy was set to explode in.

The Aussie rice cracker, Stephanie gets wet again in the 200 metres individual medley and the “Oi! Oi! Oi!” gold rush will be on. The Men and Women throw the leg over in time trial and pedal off into the smog. The Olyroos take on the tricky Ivory Coast. This one will be live on SBS after an avalanche of complaints about Seven’s interrupted glimpses of previous matches. The Opal Killers, having put away Belarus and Brazil, will be leaving blood on the paint as they take another step toward gold, this time against the nervous Koreans.

The AOC chef de mission in Beijing, John Coates, is having a blinder. He has wisely “ordered” members of the Aussie assault to wear team uniforms whenever they are out and about taking in the wonderful sights and the incredible fun that Beijing has to offer after hours. Presumably this is to prevent Aussie Olympians from being mistaken for Americans. There won’t be any problems because the Chinese love Australians. This was widely commented on during the — as has been revealed — totally fake Opening Ceremony.

When the Australians came into the Birds’ Nest, on that night of nights, there was a huge roar. The Chinese President Hu Jintao was on his feet waving and cheering wildly in that muted way of his, welcoming the green and gold army turned out as the Sportscraft Blue Bags. The Numero Uno big wig then sat down and had to be prompted by minders to resume the perpendicular to welcome the humongous home side into the main arena.

The Coates order to wear the green and gold gives a tiny insight into the quality of the leadership at the very top of this 2008 Aussie tilt. Whispers too loud to ignore suggest that Coates is thinking of pulling the pin and retiring after the Beijing hit out. This idea has to be nipped in the bud, because there is simply no one else. When the AOC opens the cupboard doors to see who is left, the only two with their hands in the air for the top job are Lord Gosper and “Punchy” Tunstall. This may sound like a dream team ticket but it would be a big step into the unknown.

The politics and protests which dogged the early days of this Beijing world carnival of school sports have dried up. The Chinese organisers have cunningly set aside three parks for protests where people could turn up and shout about what ever they liked. These protest hot spots were located in Ritan Park, Purple Bamboo Park and World Park. However, with rat-like cunning all protests have to be officially authorised and so far none have been approved. None are likely to get the go ahead. Chinese people wandering in to ask for a permit have been frog marched straight to jail. Even the cabbies are dobbing in any one who wants a lift to these scenic hot spots.

Australia has so much to learn about running a country efficiently from the Chinese and these Games are giving our government officials far too many ideas.

Peter Fray

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