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Saturday, Aug. 9, 2008

OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK

In the Olympic Village, for real and for not so real


Staff writer

Call him the people's champion or an everyday man, either way Rafael Nadal is sure to win his fair share of new fans during the Beijing Games.

Unlike many of his famous pro counterparts, such as Roger Federer, and NBA superstars, Nadal has opted to stay in the Olympic Village.

"It's very different from the regular tournaments on the tour," Nadal told China Daily. "You are in the Olympic Village, so it's always very nice to be with the rest of the sportsmen of the world."

Great Britain's Andy Murray, another tennis player, echoed those sentiments.

"Having made the decision to play in the Olympics, I wouldn't want to be staying anywhere other than the athletes' village," Murray was quoted as saying in China Daily. "It will be a great experience to be around the best athletes in the world and to speak to some of them." The Olympic Village, by the way, is housing approximately 10,000 athletes during the Summer Games.

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Where am I?: I had a dream I was walking through the Olympic Village. I woke up in the middle of the night not realizing where I was: in my hotel room.

When my dream was finished, I began to piece it together. I recall seeing dozens of nations' flags and conversing with Olympians past and present: U.S. track and field great Carl Lewis, German butterfly legend Michael "The Albatross" Gross, U.S. decathlete Rafer Johnson, reigning women's 800-meter freestyle swimming champ Ai Shibata and Canadian baseball player Stubby Clapp (now that's a hard name to forget; he's a middle infielder). Somehow, Don King popped into the mix, too.

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Did you know?: Three table tennis players were scheduled to be the flag-bearers for their respective countries during Friday's Opening Ceremony.

Li Jia Wei of Singapore, Ai Fukuhara of Japan and Zeina Shaban of Jordan have been selected for this life-altering honor.

Li was born in Beijing.

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Quotable: "Of course I want to be the flag-bearer again. I have experience. It feels good," said Yao Ming, who was China's flag-bearer in Athens and will repeat the feat in Beijing.

Quotable, part II: "Only those athletes with high sport caliber, good sport ethics and good public image could be chosen to carry the nation's flag," said Cui Dalin, the China Olympic team's deputy chief.



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