On the Beijing Beat: Only one winner in name game

When the Olympian formerly known as Chanpim Kautatian went to see a fortune-telling nun last year the advice she was given was right on the money. "She told me, 'If you change your name, you will win gold'," the Thai weightlifter recalled. In more ways than one, it has transpired.

Now known as Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon, the former Kautatian set a new Olympic record on her way to victory in the women's 53kg division at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics Gymnasium. It earned the 24-year-old not just a gold medal but also 15m baht (£231,830) from the Thai government and 10m baht (£154,535) from the Thailand Weightlifting Association.

It was slightly different for the world's leading 3,000m steeplechaser back in 2004. He changed his name from Stephen Cherono to Saif Saaeed Shaheen and his nationality from Kenyan to Qatari, all for a few dollars more. It might have guaranteed him a lifelong monthly stipend of $1,000 but it cost him almost certain Olympic gold in the Athens games. The Kenyan Olympic Committee refused to waive the three-year qualification period required for athletes who wish to switch nationality. Four years on, the Kenyan Qatari is fully qualified but out of steeplechasing commission with an Achilles tendon injury.

Made a Marion in haste...

Noah Ngeny, a former Kenyan team-mate of Shaheen, celebrated his Olympic 1500m win in 2000 by naming his daughter Marion Sydney, in recognition of the host city and the golden girl of those Games – Marion Jones. Four years on, Jones has handed back the five medals she won by the fraudulent means of chemical assistance and is serving the last few weeks of a six month jail sentence for perjury. Now known as prisoner 84868/054 at Carswell Prison in Fort Worth, Texas, she is due for release on 5 September.

Poor Marion Ngeny must know how Ben Johnson feels. Back in May 1988 he was plain Gary Smith, an 11.5sec 100m sprinter with Wallsend Harriers on Tyneside. His idol was Ben Johnson – not the playwright and poet but the Canadian speed merchant. "I decided to do it after reading in the News of the World about a man who changed his name by deed poll to Linda Lusardi," he said by way of explanation. When the faster Ben Johnson tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol at the Olympic Games in Seoul in September 1988, the slower one remained loyal to the name. "I've grown used to it," he said. "People know me as Ben Johnson."

The only Gay in the village?

There is more than one fight-clubbing Brad Pitt, the Australian of that name being among the boxing contenders. There is also more than one Beijing Olympian with the same surname as America's leading sprinter. Tyson, as it happens, is not the only Gay in the athletes village. Mabel Gay, a Cuban triple jumper, is staying there too.

Simon Turnbull

Word on the street

Surname Zhang.

Given Name Ruben. Age 19.

Birthplace Tianjin.

Occupation University student, studying Information Security. Here for the Olympics.

How much attention have you been paying to the Games?

I love the Olympics, that's why I am here. Firstly, it's great to have this chance for China to be introduced to the world. Secondly, it's a great opportunity for me to see so many sports stars in China.

Which events are you most into? Do you have tickets?

My favourite Olympic sports would have to be the football and basketball. I have only managed to get tickets for tomorrow's archery though.

Apart from China, are there any other teams or sportsmen that you feel strongly about, and why? Although, of course, I love China the most, I have respect for all sportsmen and women. If I had to choose, it would be Argentina for the football and America for the basketball.

What are the best and worst thing about the Games in Beijing? The best thing is the opportunity for China to be introduced to the world. I can't think of a bad thing.

Would London be able to host a Games as well as Beijing? (Laughs). You British must be really feeling the pressure now! I trust you'll be OK.

Has Beijing prepared well for the Olympics? It has prepared fantastically. Beijing is beautiful, the best I have ever seen it. I'm sure it will continue to get better, even after the Olympics.

Have you been following Britain's progress? Have you heard of Tom Daley?

Didn't Britain get a gold medal yesterday? In cycling wasn't it? Tom Daley? No, I haven't heard of him.

Jeremy Webb

Alternative guide

Tired of archery? Had enough world records in the pool? Why not take in Monkey King: the Rock Musical. The world premiere of China's first rock musical opened at the Beijing Exhibition Theatre this week. Inspired by the Chinese literary classic A Journey to the West, Monkey King tells the story of half-man half-monkey Sun Wukong and his quest to retrieve sacred Buddhist Sutras.

Many in Britain will already be familiar with the characters in the story as Monkey and his friends have been made the faces of this year's BBC Olympics coverage.

Chinese commentators are often quick to criticise adaptations of Chinese culture. The BBC's animated characters, created by the men behind Gorillaz - Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, have received mixed responses. For example, many Chinese dislike Monkey's bared teeth and believe that BBC's Sandy appears far more evil than his original character.

It remains to be seen what Chinese audiences will make of this latest rendition of A Journey to the West.

24 Hours In Beijing

12.15 Equestrianism: The three-day event reaches a climax in Hong Kong with the show-jumping competition. Germany, Australia and Great Britain, the latter featuring William Fox-Pitt, occupy the top three places following yesterday's cross-country section and the medals look to be between them, with Italy further adrift in fourth place. The individual final starts at 15.45.

08.40 Canoeing: Campbell Walsh, silver medallist in Athens and European champion this year, competes in the K1 kayak semi-final. The final is at 10.17. David Florence is in the C1 single canoe semi-final at 08.00 (final at 09.47)

08.45 Boxing: Bantamweight Joe Murray, who was the first British fighter to qualify for Beijing, takes on China's Gu Yu.

11.00 Judo: Finals of women's under-63kg, including Sarah Clark, and the men's under 81kg, including Euan Burton.

11.40 Badminton: Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson, silver medal winners in Athens, meet China's Gao Ling and Zheng Bo in the mixed doubles competition.

What you may have missed overnight...

01.30 Women's hockey: Britain played Argentina in a pool match

03.00 Artistic gymnastics: Men's team final

03.16 Swimming: America's Michael Phelps went for his third gold of the Games, this time in the 200m freestyle final

03.31 Swimming: Britain's Liam Tancock tried to overcome the mighty American pair of Aaron Peirsol and Matt Grevers in

the 100m backstroke final

04.04 Swimming: Phelps was back in action in the 200m butterfly semis

04.20 Badminton: Britain's Donna Kellogg and Anthony Clarke met China's He Hanbin and Yu Yang in the mixed doubles

Coming up later today...

08.00: Shooting: Richard Faulds (below), gold medallist four years ago, will hope to be competing in the double trap final following the morning's qualification. Steve Scott also competes

12.02 Swimming: Teenagers Jemma Lowe and Ellen Gandy get Britain's 200m butterfly challenge underway in the heats

12.54 Swimming: The heats of the men's 4x200m freestyle relay, where Britain will be up against the likes of Michael Phelps' America

If you want to stay up late tonight...

03.30 Artistic gymnastics: Women's team final

04.30 Cycling: Emma Pooley and road race winner Nicole Cooke compete in the women's individual time trial. The men's event starts two hours later

All times BST

Weather watch

A hot day is in store with scattered thunderstorms and humidity at 75 per cent.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'