On the Beijing Beat: 'Previous dead guy' off target
Monday 11 August 2008
It could well be described as the greatest comeback since Lazarus – and not just since Queen's Park Rangers came from 2-0 behind to snatch a 3-2 victory with a Mark Lazarus goal in the 1967 League Cup final. When the American trap shooter Bret Erickson was midway through a training track run in 2004, he suddenly collapsed to the ground, his pulse disappeared, his heart stopped beating and his face turned blue.
He had suffered what is known as a bifascular block: a malfunction to the electrical impulses to the heart. It was his very good fortune that one of the team-mates accompanying him on his two-mile workout happened to be a qualified emergency medical technician. He managed to revive Erickson, who now has a pacemaker and who was gunning for Olympic glory at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall yesterday. "I want to be the first 'previous dead guy' with a pacemaker to win a gold medal," the 47-year-old proclaimed before the qualifying round yesterday. Sadly, it was not to be.
Erickson's score of 113 points was only good enough for 22nd place. He failed to make the cut for the six-man final. Still, you can't have it all. There are not too many "previous dead guys" who can claim, in the manner of Mark Twain, that presumption of their ultimate demise was somewhat exaggerated.
A miss, a kiss and a gold for the missus
Going into the last round of shots in the first final contested at these Games, it seemed that the gold medal hopes of Katerina Emmons' seven rivals in the women's 50m air rifle were effectively dead and buried. The Czech sharpshooter held a 1.5-point lead, the equivalent of a 2-0 advantage entering the last minute of a football match. Surely the 24-year-old could not blow it, with her 50th and final shot of the day.
It had happened before on the Olympic shooting range, as the gentleman wearing a USA tracksuit in the front row of the stands knew only too well. Matt Emmons held a three-point lead with one shot to go in the men's three-position rifle competition in Athens in 2004. With gold not so much in his sights as in his kitbag, he inexplicably fired his effort at the wrong target.
"I consider it a good miss now," he says. "If I'd won I might have retired then and I wouldn't have met my wife." Thankfully, in the Beijing Shooting range Hall on Saturday the woman he married last year, Katerina Emmons, managed to keep a straight aim and the couple hugged and kissed in celebration of Beijing's first gold medal, which the world, if not Emmons' wife, had expected to go to the Chinese favourite, Du Li.
So a proud moment for the Czechs to savour? In her hour of triumph, Mrs Emmons confided that she is considering switching allegiance so that she can join her husband on the US team. "I've left the door open," she said. "It might be the easiest option."
Word on the street
Surname: Tang. Given Name: Rong. Age: 32.
Birthplace: Fuzhou, Fujian province, Eastern China. Lives: Beijing (since 1995).
Occupation: Runs small convenience store on the Chaoyang Gate Road in central Beijing. Lives above the shop with his wife and daughter.
How much attention have you been paying to the Games? Not much. Me and my family will probably be too busy to watch any events.
What do the Olympic Games mean to you? Although I don't like sports much, I am very happy about the Olympics – it is a wonderful opportunity for the world to see and understand China. China has developed much over the last years – it is great that people will see this.
Apart from China, are there any other teams or sportsmen you feel strongly about? Not really. In fact, when it comes to sports, I don't even particularly support China. There are no sportsmen I admire. I realise I am in the minority here – my views certainly aren't representative.
What are the best and worst things about the Olympics in Beijing? The best thing is the chance for the world to understand China. A lot of us are worried about a terrorist attack – that would be bad.
Would London be able to host the Games as well as Beijing? I am in no position to judge.
How do you feel about the city's Olympic architecture? I don't have any particular opinions; it is very modern.
Do you have any opinions about the Paralympics? It doesn't matter if someone is disabled or not, everyone should have the right to compete.
Have you seen any interesting behaviour by Olympic visitors? [Laughs]. Not really. The foreigners seem to be smiling a lot.
What do you think about the money spent on the Games? It is all necessary to host a successful Olympics. In many ways it is in the public interest. However, I would also have liked to have seen money spent on social welfare.
Legitimately, the best tickets for the opening ceremony sold for 5,000 yuan (£380); non-legitimately they cost many times that. What do you think about this? Those on a low or middle income cannot afford them – that's a shame. But everyone can watch it on TV, so that's OK.
Is Beijing prepared for the Olympics? Yes, I am quite sure our government has thought of everything.
In Beijing but tired of the Games? Why not take in a showing of Kung Fu Panda?
One of only 20 foreign films allowed into China each year, the Jack Black-voiced animated blockbuster has caused controversy since its release. The artist and designer Zhao Bandi claimed Hollywood was seeking to profit from Chinese culture and that after the Sichuan earthquake the film was in poor taste, as pandas live in the quake zone. The film, however, has been enthusiastically received.
Also (not) showing: The Dark Knight, the Batman film which has not yet been passed by the censors, and Leaving Fear Behind, a documentary by a pro-Tibet group on what Tibetans think of the Games. The film was shown to a small group of foreign reporters last week but a second screening was halted by police.
07.30 Diving: After all the hype, Tom Daley finally gets to take the plunge for real in his first Olympic Games, aged 14, alongside Blake Aldridge in the 10-metre platform synchro event. Britain won silver in this event in Athens and a medal is not out of the question. Ends 8.25am.
08.50 Canoeing: Campbell Walsh, silver medalist in Athens and European champion this year, competes in the K1 kayak heats.
09.10 Rowing: Alan Campbell is through to a quarter-final, from where three single scullers can make the semis. His draw looks fine, the other big shot being Marcel Hacker of Germany.
11.30 Swimming: Rebecca Adlington and Caitlin McClatchey begin their challenge in the 200m freestyle heats.
14.00 Tennis: Andy and Jamie Murray play Daniel Nestor and Frédéric Niemeyer in their opening doubles match, after it was delayed by rain yesterday.
What you may have missed overnight...
01.00 Equestrianism: Britain were fourth in the three-day event before the cross-country
03.10 Swimming: Jemma Lowe, 18, swam in the 100m butterfly final
03.20 Badminton: Andrew Smith met Marc Zwiebler in the men's singles
03.30 Men's hockey: Pakistan v Great Britain in Group A
4.14am Swimming: Rebecca Adlington, 18, and Joanne Jackson, 22, swam in the 400m freestyle final
4.23am Swimming: Michael Phelps tried for a second gold in America's 4x100m freestyle relay team
Coming up from 7am today
09.00 Archery: Semi-finals and medal shoot-offs in men's team event. Britain were due to meet China at 03.50
12.36 Swimming: Hannah Miley and Keri-Anne Payne in the 200m individual medley heats
13.00 Basketball: America and China's women meet
If you want to stay up late tonight...
03.00 Archery: Britain's Alison Williamson, Naomi Folkard and Charlotte Burgess compete
03.00 Artistic gymnastics: Men's team final
03.13 Swimming: Men's 200m freestyle final should see Phelps in the vicinity of yet another podium
04.20 Badminton: Britain's Donna Kellogg and Anthony Clarke meet China's He Hanbin and Yu Yang in the mixed doubles.
All times BST
Hot with scattered thunderstorms. Maximum temperature 31C.
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