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Last Updated: Monday August 25 2008 10:16 GMT

Sonali's Beijing Olympics diary

Sonali in front of Beijing's National Stadium, which is known as the Birds' Nest

Millions of people across the world will be watching the 2008 Olympic Games.

Newsround's Sonali is in Beijing and she'll be keeping a diary throughout the Games to give YOU a taste of what it's like to be at the biggest sporting event in the world.

Monday 25 August

I can't believe it's all over - the craziest 17 days of my life.

Sonali at the closing ceremony
Sonali at the closing ceremony
Being at the biggest sporting event in the world has been amazing. So amazing that I'm already looking forward to the next Olympics, especially as they're being held in my home city of London.

But it's a good job that they're four years away, because it'll probably take that long for me to get over these Games.

Bye Bye Beijing.... it's been so much fun. London... I'm coming home.

Saturday 23 August

We've just been mobbed in the Olympic Park.

The crowd's closing in on Sonali and Jake
The crowds started to close in on Sonali and Jake
It had nothing to do with Jake and I doing a live TV show from there. It had everything to do with a gold medal belonging to Victoria Pendleton.

We'd invited her to join us on Sportsround today and I don't think either of us had realised just how much chaos that would cause.

As soon as she got the medal out, there was a massive gasp from the dozens of people that had surrounded us and then an explosion of camera flashes.

After the show, we had to escort Vicky away from a massive crowd that was slowly but surely closing in on us.

I never quite knew the power of gold before today.

Friday 22 August

If tripping over a former Olympic medal winner was an Olympic sport - I'm sure I'd win gold.

Colin Jackson
Colin Jackson was trying to have lunch
It feels like I bump into a couple of them (when I say bump, I do mean bump - I never look where I'm going!) every time I walk into the BBC office in the Olympic park.

And most of them are very friendly. The usually serious-looking rowing legend that is Steve Redgrave (sorry SIR Steve Redgrave), who has a whopping five gold medals, always smiles when he walks past.

And former diver Leon Taylor who won silver in Athens always gives me a hug and the goss on what Tom Daley's been up to.

Darren Campbell
Darren Campbell strikes a pose
I had to hurdle over the record-breaking hurdler Colin Jackson while he was eating his lunch sat on the floor the other day - so sorry again, Colin!

But the cheekiest has got to be gold medal winning sprinter Darren Campbell - look at him posing for my camera!

Thursday 21 August

When Shanaze Reade woke up this morning and opened her curtains, for a moment, she must have wondered if she was back in Manchester.

Shanaze Reade
Shanaze Reade is favourite to win the BMX gold
It's pouring down with rain here in Beijing, which has come as a bit of a shock, as we've had more than a week of sunshine.

It's a frustrating day for Shanaze because the downpour means she has to wait until tomorrow to go for Olympic gold on her BMX bike.

Organisers decided the wet track was too dangerous to race on today.

It's been a frustrating day for us too... We got up early to go and see Shanaze and were already halfway to the BMX track when we heard the race had been cancelled.

It may sound like science fiction, but Olympic organisers used chemical rockets to make sure it didn't rain over the Bird's Nest stadium during the all-important opening ceremony (it's called cloud-seeding).

I wish they'd done that this morning!

Wednesday 20 August

While I've been out and about, I've noticed loads of people here in Beijing taking part in a very strange unofficial Olympic sport - pin-collecting!

Sonali
Sonali checking out pin-collections!
Apparently it's been going on for years. Every Olympic Games, media companies, sponsors, and organising committees give out promotional pins.

I didn't take much notice of the BBC Sport pin that was given to me on my first day here in Beijing (I think it's in the bottom of my bag somewhere) but people are going bonkers for them!

It's really funny - I keep seeing groups of people huddled in corners starring wide-eyed at each other's collections, trying to trade their pins.

Apparently one American man, who has been collecting them since the LA Olympics in 1984, now has 15,000 of them!

Tuesday 19 August

While Great Britain celebrates its gold rush, China is in shock.

Liu Xiang
Liu Xiang on a giant poster
Yesterday, the country's most famous athlete Liu Xiang (think bigger than David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo put together) limped out of the Olympics.

China is number one on the medals table, but a gold from Liu was the one they really wanted.

He's been a national hero since he won the 110m hurdles at the last Games.

He's also the face of the Beijing Olympics - you can't go a few metres here without seeing his face on a massive poster.

Chinese fan
A Chinese fan in tears
When Liu pulled out yesterday, there were tears everywhere.

Thousands of fans in the stadium were crying, security guards were shedding a tear, his coach couldn't stop crying - even a Chinese TV news presenter burst into tears on air.

While Liu Xiang has an injured ankle to fix, there are more than a billion people here in China trying to mend their broken hearts.

Monday 18 August

A DJ
A DJ keeps shoppers entertained
Yesterday, in between the marathon and gymnastics, I went to have a quick look at one of China's ancient alleyways which are called Hutongs.

They're very cool... So cool in fact that one of the shops had it's very own DJ!

But forget cool - you've got to check out the funniest thing I saw…

SHOPPING SURPRISE
See the sign that shocked Sonali

Now, I'm known for being quite direct about things… But this shop sign shocked even me!

Sunday 17 August

Watching Usain Bolt in the men's 100m final last night at the bird's nest has got to be the best bit of sport I've ever seen (all 9.69 seconds of it!).

Usain Bolt celebrating
Sonali watched Usain Bolt win gold
You'd think he'd be just a little bit nervous about more than 90,000 people watching him from inside the stadium and BILLIONS more watching him on TV around the world... but no - Usain Bolt started celebrating before he'd even crossed the finish line.

What a champion!

Saturday 16 August

This morning, I realised that I've already been in Beijing for 12 days - that's more than halfway through my trip.

Sonali and Eric editing
Sonali and Eric had to work on a bus!
Every day here has been so mad, that I rarely know what time of day it is, let alone aware of what day of the week it is.

Running around the city filming is exciting, hectic, stressful (and I'm not even an athlete here!) - but the one thing it's definitely not is glamorous.

Yesterday we were so busy that my producer Eric and I had to edit some of our films on the bus back to our hotel to make sure we got it done on time!

Friday 15 August

Sonali inside Beijing's National Stadium
Sonali inside Beijing's National Stadium
The bird's nest really is the bee's knees…

It's the first day of the athletics today, which all takes place inside the most famous Olympic venue here in Beijing - the National Stadium.

I went to see what it feels like to sit on one the 91,000 seats inside the stadium and I can tell you it's mind-blowing.

Thursday 14 August

Souvenir sellers lining the streets
Souvenir sellers lining the streets
China is home to one of the seven wonders of the world - The Great Wall of China.

So today, I thought I'd take some time out from the Olympics to go and see it.

After seeing the Great Wall of China, you have to walk past the not-so-great wall of souvenir shifters.

It's a long line of stalls selling everything you wouldn't ever want to take home for family and friends!

See Sonali on the wall

Every step of the way you get hassled to buy something you really don't need.

The Great Wall of China was originally built to keep enemies away - I could have done with borrowing a bit of it today to ward off the sellers!

Wednesday, 13 August

How do you get the attention of the world's greatest Olympian ever?

That was my mighty task today. As you'd expect, Michael Phelps was hot property today after winning his 11th Olympic gold medal.

Sonali at Michael Phelps' press conference
Sonali chose a pink top to stand out
Check out my photo of the press conference - this is about half the number of journalists that were waiting to talk to him!

Between us all, we had 10 minutes to ask him questions - you have to put your hand up and wait to be picked by the chairperson of the conference.

My tactic? Wear a bright pink top... It might not be very sporty, but it got me noticed and talking to Michael in no time.

Tuesday, 12 August 4.15pm

I went to the Olympic canoe park today to cheer on SR blogger Campbell Walsh, who was competing in one of the kayaking events.

Campbell Walsh and Sonali
In the end he didn't make the final. But after the whole Tom Daley/Blake Aldridge controversy, it was refreshing to see how Campbell dealt with his massive disappointment.

Of course he was absolutely gutted, but he also told me that these things sometimes happen in sport, and you just have to move on.

I was very impressed with his attitude.

On a lighter note, last night I went to check up on that day-of-the-week carpet I discovered in the lift on Friday.

HAD THE CARPET CHANGED?

Click here to find out if it had changed!

Monday 11 August, 12.30pm

Watching Tom Daley dive was on my must-see list here at the Olympics. And I'm glad I went… the atmosphere inside the watercube was great - the air was filled with anticipation before each dive and loads of applause afterwards.

Tom Daley and Blake Aldridge diving
Tom Daley and Blake Aldridge diving
There were eight pairs diving in the 10m synchronised final - each pair has six dives to prove themselves. Some people think Tom and his diving partner Blake Aldridge had a chance of grabbing bronze.

To me, all the dives looked fantastic - and they were. Synchro divers are given two sets of scores - one for how good the dive was (they have to aim to enter the water upright making no splash) and the second for how synchronised the two divers are (they have to take off together, spin together and hit the water together).

Sonali watching the diving
Sonali watching the action
Tom and Blake started off well, but some of their entries into the pool weren't as good as they've done before, and in the end, they came last.

China, as expected, got the gold medal. A lot of their dives did have gold written all over them.

When the event finished, I went to meet Tom and Blake - they were clearly upset about coming last, but despite that, Tom said he really enjoyed himself and had a lot of fun out there.

Good on him.

Monday 11 August, 11.45am

I'm gonna be frank. I feel like the President of the United States is following me.

US President George Bush
US President George Bush enjoys the game
After almost running into him at the beach volleyball on Saturday, there he was, cheering on the USA basketball team, who were taking on China last night.

It was a bit strange seeing the world's most powerful politician having a bit of a laugh like the rest of us mere mortals.

The game was the hottest ticket in town - which is why I had one eye on the court and the other on the stands, celeb-spotting.

Jared Leto
Hollywood star Jared Leto
It's not an amazing star count, but I did see actress Glenn Close, Jodi Gordon (the girl that plays Martha in Home & Away) smiled at me and Jared Leto (who used to go out with Cameron Diaz) waved for my camera.

Oh yeah, the basketball - the final score was 101-70 to the USA.

Sunday 10 August

When it rains in Beijing, it chucks it down.

I'm absolutely amazed that rider Nicole Cooke won a 126km road race in the awful weather here. I can barely walk in it - I've slipped over twice!

Radio 5 Live's Nicky Campbell in his wet weather gear
Nicky Campbell in his wet weather gear
It's so wet outside that people here have resorted to this...

That's Nicky Campbell - a presenter on Radio 5 Live - on his way out of the BBC office today.

I chose not to go for the green plastic look.

Instead, I've been walking around with very, very bad hair!

Saturday 9 August

George Bush playing beach volleyball with American athlete Misty MayTreanor
The American President has a go at beach volleyball!
After the excitement of yesterday's opening ceremony and just four hours sleep, this morning I hit the beach. Not just any old beach though - I checked out my very first Olympic sporting event - beach volleyball.

It was only after I left that I realised the President of the United States of America, George Bush, was visiting the venue just after me!

If only I'd been there a bit later - it would have been hilarious to see the one of the most important politicians in the world trying to be a cheerleader...

Friday 8 August - 3pm in China, 8am in UK

It's the day of the opening ceremony - 08/08/08 - and the ceremony starts at 8pm China time.
There's no fourth floor at Sonali's hotel!
There's no fourth floor at Sonali's hotel!
This isn't just a lucky coincidence. Well, actually it is lucky - just not a coincidence.

In China, the number eight is considered a lucky number because the Chinese word for eight sounds like the word for wealth.

On the other hand, the number four is Unlucky, which is why there is no fourth floor at my hotel!

I hope the the people on the 13th floor aren't superstitious!

See why the lift carpet's making Sonali smile...

Just in case you're wondering, I was given a room on the 8th floor :-)

Oh, before I go, you've got to check out the carpet in a lift I got into today.

I've heard of day-of-the-week underwear and day-of-the-week socks. But day-of-the-week lift carpet??

Thursday 7 August

We've all been hearing so much about the Olympics over the past few weeks that sometimes I have to remind myself that they haven't actually officially started yet!

Sonali at a security check
Getting used to security checks
I'm so excited about being in Beijing for the Games - I absolutely love the Olympics - so being here is amazing.

And the best way to describe Beijing? Bizarre...

Understandably, China wants to make sure the Olympics are safe for everyone.

That means there is so much security here that walking out of my hotel is like walking into an airport, every time I get on the media bus, me and my bags have to go through airport-style scanners.

Sonali
Sonali holds on to her security pass
You need a different sort of pass for every place you want to go and if I lose my main Olympic security pass, well, I might as well get on the first flight back home.

I've got so used to it now, that if 10 minutes go by when I haven't been security-checked, I start to get worried...