Michael Phelps, finishing second in a swimming race just now:

http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r96/jfallows/IMG_4965.jpg

He's the one in lane 4 touching the wall... well, second, after a guy from Serbia* in lane 5, who is already looking upward in his white cap. (Click for larger.)

Yes, it was only the preliminary heats of the mens' 100m butterfly; and yes, he had the second-fastest time of the large field overall; and yes, he lost by .11 of a second; and yes, it looked as if he was not trying his very, very hardest. And yes, he's failed to win some other heats in events in which he eventually won the gold medal. Still, somehow disorienting to see!

(Saturday am update: The "guy from Serbia" was the same Milorad Cavic whom Phelps out-touched by .01 of a second in the finals for his seventh gold medal.)

Saw it this evening at the Water Cube -- last minute tickets from a friend --  and having complained about some Olympic logistics. and kept other complaints to myself, I will say that everything about transportation, crowd control flow, security screening, and all the rest of the tedious practicality of an event was handled very, very well.  After the jump, two other photos illustrating things I hadn't known until my wife and I went there tonight:
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One is that Phelps truly is put together differently from other people. In person he appears to be all torso, with vestigal legs -- except for very large feet. Whatever, obviously it is a combo that works.

http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r96/jfallows/IMG_4961.jpg

The other involves the crowds. We'd heard about surprisingly sparse attendance at many events, sparse considering that for months people in China had been told that every single ticket was snapped up. For whatever reason, this is how the stands looked just before Phelps walked in. (And there were lots of interesting events before that.)

 

http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r96/jfallows/IMG_4937.jpg

To return to the main theme: happily impressed and surprised by how smoothly everything seemed to work. In the words that rang out in the Water Cube whenever a Chinese swimmer was in contention, Jia you!

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