Greetings from London, where we’ve infiltrated the Far Far Eastern wing of the Olympic village for the past two weeks and made the organizing committee wish they had given us a press credential. After a brief and shaky stint as a translator for Mongolian judo silver medalist Naidan Tuvshinbayar (YOU try translating “floating half hip throw” into Mongolian), we’ve spent the past few days embedded with the entourage of Chinese trampoline star Dong Dong, who took home adult bouncy castle gold on Friday and parlayed his victory into one of the most raucous late-night celebrations we’ve ever seen. Make no mistake: Trampoliners know how to party.
With one week left in the London games, and with our Dong Dong-induced hangover finally abating, here’s our rundown of some of the top Asia storylines to grace (or disgrace) the competition so far:
1) Dong Dong – just watch (above).
2) 16-year-old Chinese female swimmer Ye Shiwen destroyed the world record in the 400 meter individual medley, and no result in the Olympics has produced more controversy since. Ye swam her final 100 meters in 58.68 seconds, and her final 50 meter split of 28.93 seconds bested Ryan Lochte’s time in the same men’s race. John Leonard, head of the American Swim Coaches Association, called Ye’s closing leg “impossible” and her overall swim “disturbing” in suggesting that the Chinese star had used banned substances.
3) South Korean archer Im Dong-Hyun, who is legally blind, set a world record during the men’s preliminary round on July 27th.
4) North Korea’s women’s soccer team refused to take the field for its preliminary match with Columbia on July 25th, delaying the start by more than an hour after organizers in Glasgow used the South Korean flag to introduce the North Korean players on the jumbo video screen. British Prime Minister David Cameron called it “an honest mistake.”
5) Eight badminton players – two women’s teams from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia, were disqualified for “not using one’s best efforts to win” during the last round of preliminary matches on August 1st. Officials alleged that the pairs purposefully tried to manipulate the draw for the tournament’s knockout stage, after a match between China and South Korea lasted just 23 minutes and saw no rally of more than four shots. South Korea’s coach responded to the allegations by claiming that “The Chinese started this. They did it first.” Real mature, buddy.