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They?ve parked a tank in front of the press centre. Perhaps this is a friendly warning to the hacks within to toe the party line.

The party line is that everything is going just fine, everybody loves each other, the only credit card company in the world is Visa, and everybody eats McDonalds.

These are two of the corporate sponsors of the Games. Part of the deal for companies like these to bask in the reflected glory of the incredible endeavours of people like our Nicole and, er, Andy Murray, is exclusivity on all Olympic sites.

Which is a ruddy pain in the backside if you don?t have a Visa card. Through no particular preference, I happen to have a Mastercard, and the staff at the press room bank merely smile and shake their heads in pity at me when I try to pay for anything. They make me feel like the black sheep of the Olympic family.

It?s been a busy few days for CW. I managed to blag a ticket for the opening ceremony, which turned out to be right in the front row. It meant I was close enough to see the pathetic turnout by Team GB, which mostly consisted of coaching staff. Could do better, chaps, especially since Roger Federer made the effort, even carrying the Swiss flag ? and he needs to use his arms this week.

But it was an amazing show. I?m not normally a fan of opening ceremonies ? I?ve always felt they appeal to the lowest common denominator. But this one turned me into a shiny-eyed evangelist. There was an army of drummers, dancers, acrobats and artists, who didn?t put a foot wrong all night, although they did lay on the cheese a bit when they wheeled out the singing children. Seb Coe?s going to have a hard time matching that in 2012, given that the main cultural expression of British identity is morris dancing.

And of course, we were right there at the Great Wall when Nicole Cooke won Britain?s first ever gold medal on the road. I was the last to know about it, however. I was stood in the ?mixed zone?, which is the media corridor about 50 metres after the finish, which could politely be described as a scrum, and is actually more like a zoo. I?d got a plum spot, right at the entrance, but the television monitor had long since given up the ghost in the pouring rain, so I had to rely on the race announcer for my information.

Unfortunately he was speaking in Mandarin.

At this point I?d like to point out to the person who wrote in and complained of my cultural insensitivity in being unable to speak Mandarin after my last blog, that this isn?t a criticism. However, it meant that I missed what was possibly the finest moment in British cycling history. Bugger.

It was soon clear to me who won, though. Nicole was smiling, while the others were not. She was also shouting loud enough to be heard back home in Wales, and I don?t mind admitting that I briefly lost my journalistic objectivity and felt tears pricking my eyes. Luckily, it was raining, so I didn?t look like a weirdo.

Unfortunately, Nicole came through the mixed zone in the 53×12, so my exclusive quote from her was, ?I?m very very??

A guy standing further down told me her next word was ?happy?, so I hadn?t completely wasted my time.

Tomorrow, we?re back at Juyongguan for the time trial. Cooke, if you’re reading this, I?ll see you in the mixed zone, and I want a coherent sentence this time.

Did you lose it when Cooke won gold? Email us at


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