Friday 15 August 2008
No muscle Marys
Yesterday's German edition of Playboy has an Olympic flavour. The kayaker Nicole Reinhardt, a hot prospect to win gold, is on the cover, her legs around a canoe paddle. She reassures readers she has not developed unattractively muscular arms: "I don't need thick arms. In canoeing it's about technique, thank God." There are four choices of cover – one with Reinhardt; another with the sailor Petra Niemann; Katharina Scholz, the latest field hockey athlete to shed her strip; and the judo competitor Romy Tarangul. Tarangul has already been knocked out but says she has proved women can be good at judo without being an "unfeminine muscular Amazon".
Win an Olympic event and pay for your wedding. That's what China's gold-medal synchronised swimmer Wang Feng has done. His province of Shandong is one of a number offering cash payments to its victorious native sons and daughters. Shortly after Wang's victory, his family received a cheque for $87,000 (£47,000). "After the Games finish, we can now hold his wedding," the swimmer's teary-eyed grandfather said.
Acupuncture is one of the traditional Chinese treatments on offer during the Games, and one acupuncturist has taken his marketing to an extreme. Using tiny acupuncture pins, Wen Shengchu has set up hundreds of flagpoles on his head, their colours representing the 204 competing nations. Centrepiece is a needle shaped like the Olympic torch, which has pride of place on Mr Wen's forehead.
China's football team are coming in for some flak. One blogger described them as being "as tragic as a eunuch in a brothel". Their consistent failure to shine has made the team the butt of national ribbing. The official "Beijing Welcomes You" song has been corrupted to lambast the footballers, with lyrics such as "Come play with us, our goalposts are wide and always open". And anti-smoking slogans have also been rewritten: "Smoking will ruin your health. Watching Chinese soccer will ruin your life," joshed one blogger. Another invited non-footballers from around the world to Beijing: "No matter how bad you play, you can build your confidence here in China."
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