Your Friday British Newsstand

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Friday’s selection of British chipwrappers, from the Sainsbury’s on Tottenham Court Road …

Just when I thought we might make it through the Olympics without a Cool Runnings headline, the Times dropped one on Usain Bolt’s 200-meter victory:

Times

Surprising, to say the least, that Bolt’s “I’m a living legend” comments didn’t get blown up in the tabloids. The Telegraph‘s insert section was the only one that took that bait:

Telegraph

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  • Published On Aug 10, 2012
  • On Bolt and Metaphorical Measurements

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    Usain Bolt 200
    (Mike Powell/SI)

    LONDON — Usain Bolt finished the 200 meters on Thursday night in 19.32 seconds, which translates to an average speed of 23.16 miles per hour. That means he was moving faster than the average speed of a London tube train on the Piccadilly line (20.5 mph), although if he had tried to out-race the train on the tracks, he’d have been run over between stations (when it hits a peak of 40 mph). Bolt was also moving at about half the speed of an English greyhound (45 mph) or grighund, if you prefer the Old English.

    When I took my seat near the finish line at Olympic Stadium, and later watched Bolt (and his two Jamaican countrymen, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir) roar around the turn in my direction, I had oddball British speed equivalents on the brain. The reason was George Hardie. A couple of days ago, on the walk back to my hotel, I happened to pass the Cartoon Museum and duck into its gift shop. My favorite thing there — and not because it was free, but that was nice, too — was a small booklet near the cash register, titled Metaphorical Measurements for a British Olympics.

    It was a bunch of pocket-size whimsy, created by someone capable of viewing sports through an abnormal lens. For example, the boxing page suggested recalibrating the Olympic weight classes to match British Wild Animals, meaning some fighters would be competing for the title of Otterweight Gold Medalist:

    Boxing

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  • Published On Aug 09, 2012
  • Pin-Trading Mission: SI For Obscurity

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    SI Pins

    LONDON — My mission for this post: unload my entire stash of Sports Illustrated Live From London pins — 25 in all — for the most obscure Olympic collection possible.

    The SI pins (shown above) come in five colors and, as I found out during my wanderings in and just outside Olympic Park, their trade value is massively inconsistent. American and Canadian collectors coveted full sets of SIs, but Europeans were mostly disinterested; one Spanish pin heavyweight dismissed my SI-for-Botswana National Olympic Committee trade proposal with a disgusted noise and a wave of his hand, and that was that. I never did get a Botswana, but according to my standards of strangeness, I managed to do quite well.

    The pin-trading hotspot at these Games is not in the Park. It’s the area just outside the gate to the Athletes’ Village, near Stratford International Train Station, where veteran traders — including this Zen-like fellow below — have been camped out for the duration. There’s something more esteemed about Olympic pin-trading than there is about sports-card collecting; it still attracts people with that obsessive collecting gene, but Olympic country pins at least started in the hands of someone from Iran or Ireland or Indonesia, and were swapped for something rather than sold. They have a real provenance.

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  • Published On Aug 09, 2012
  • Your Thursday British Newsstand

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    Thursday’s selection of British front pages, in highbrow-to-lowbrow order …

    On a slow day for the tabloids, the Guardian‘s new math made for the most conversation-sparking cover: Is Team GB actually ahead of the U.S.? (Only if you refuse to count multiple medals in one sport.)

    Guardian

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  • Published On Aug 09, 2012
  • Street Art Games: From Owens to Moon

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    Ronzo In Progress

    LONDON — The 2012 Games’ graffiti-esque logo may have been a nod to the fact that London has the world’s most vibrant street-art scene, but you won’t find any street art at an actual Olympic venue. Every sport takes place within a super-sanitized corporate branding zone. In the East London neighborhoods near Olympic Park, though, artists have been posting Olympic commentary on walls, pull-down gates, billboards and plywood barricades … and SI has been collecting its favorite images.

    Last week, the blog looked at prolific street-sport artist #CODEFC, as well as an official installation by graphic novelist Sarnath Banerjee. A post on Monday featured Jimmy C’s Usain Bolt mural in Shoreditch. Today’s offering is a 10-piece compilation of Olympics graffiti, paste-up art, stencils and flyers:

    1. Ronzo’s Olympic Bird

    A metaphor that needs no explanation. Image — as well as the in-progress one above — courtesy of Ronzo, who bills himself as a “Vandal Extraordinaire.”

    Ronzo Finished

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  • Published On Aug 08, 2012
  • Blankers-Koen Is Back On The Map

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    Fanny
    (Fanny Blankers-Koen/AFP)

    This is a guest post from SI’s Alexander Wolff, who has been living in London all summer, immersing himself in the British scene.

    LONDON — While working on this week’s story for the magazine about how women are ruling these Games, I got lost in a couple of histories of the last London Olympics that recount the legend of Fanny Blankers-Koen. Before she left the Netherlands in 1948, strangers would stop her on the street to castigate her plans to leave her two children at home. Blankers-Koen not only ignored them, but also wasn’t fazed by organizers’ refusal to let women enter more than four events — a ruling that meant she couldn’t contest two, the long jump and high jump, in which she held world records. Her four track gold medals at the 1948 Games (in the 100 and 200 meters, the hurdles and the relay) is a women’s Olympic mark that still stands. And it soon emerged that she had done it all while pregnant.

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  • Published On Aug 08, 2012
  • Your Wednesday British Newsstand

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    Wednesday’s selection of British newsprint, straight from the Sainsbury’s on Tottenham Court Road to your computer screen …

    As the Guardian‘s Olympic editor, Owen Gibson, pointed out on Twitter this morning, what a difference eight days makes for the Sun. At left, its July 31 cover that begged for a gold; at right, its Wednesday cover, “UNITED BLINGDOM.”

    The Sun

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  • Published On Aug 08, 2012
  • Fantasy Venues: An Architect’s What-Ifs

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    LONDON — While I’m qualified to tell you about strange scenes at the Olympics — such as Dirty Dancing at beach volleyball — I lack the expertise to review the 2012 Games from an architectural standpoint. I do, however, have a friend and former Central Park baseball teammate who was a senior architect for New York’s Olympic Bid Committee (NYC2012), a games advisor for London’s organizing committee (LOCOG) and currently works as a sports architect in New York. He is Scott Schiamberg, and this is his third guest post: an Olympic architect’s renderings of three venues he’d loved to have seen in London.

    For a host city, the whole point of putting on an Olympics is to showcase yourself to the world. This is done by putting on extravagant Opening and Closing Ceremonies, building new venues and branding everything in a way that’s referred to as the “look of the Games.” An Olympic trend over the past three decades has been to enhance that “look” by creating temporary venues that capture the host city’s spirit, history and urban landscape. In my last post I reviewed the London’s best three creative-use venues: beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade, archery at Lord’s Cricket Ground and triathlon at Hyde Park. Those are all impressive sites, but what if London had taken its venue/city integration plan even further? What follows are three dream venues that I wish would’ve happened in 2012:

    1. Diving at Trafalgar Square

    Trafalgar Diving

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  • Published On Aug 07, 2012


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