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Off to China: Meet the Beijing Sports Smog


Sports and goofy celebrity tales: together for always. (Paramount Pictures)

Sometime over the next 24 hours, three things will happen:

1) I'm gonna get on a plane to Beijing.

2) Stories of the outlandish interior decorating plots of Washington's pro athletes will be temporarily banished from this space, and

3) The D.C. Sports Bog will, for three weeks, be converted into the Beijing Sports Smog. (Send your compliments for the name to Washingtonpost.com Sports Editor Jon DeNunzio.)

What exactly will I be blogging about from China. That remains sort of unclear. For a sampling of previous Olympic blogging, you can check out Tales From Turin, but age has not dealt kindly with tales of Italian cheese and New Zealand curlers. Any suggestions on which sports, foods, athletes and fans I should be covering in China can be entered below, or by writing here. Most of the Post editorial crew (Tom Boswell, Les Carpenter, Liz Clarke, Tracee Hamilton, Michael Lee, Jonathan Newton, Amy Shipley, Barry Svrluga) will already be in Beijing when I arrive. A few more will arrive later. I should have some introductory stuff posted by Monday morning.

In the meantime, here's a story I've been meaning to post. A framed copy of this story resides in some hallway of Congressional Country Club's clubhouse, near the locker room the PGA pros use once a year. It may be 54 years old, but it's still pretty much what I'm hoping to do for the next month.


(AP file)

The Washington Post and Times Herald
Sunday, Sept. 26, 1954

NIXON IN FORM
11,000 Golf Fans Watch Celebrities
By Warren Unna

Washingtonians who are usually rather blase about celebrities don't feel that way when it comes to golf.

They turned out 11,000 strong at Congressional Country Club yesterday for the third round of the World Series of Golf, otherwise known as the National Celebrities Tournament. Even more are expected today.

Celebrities there were aplenty - Vice President Richard M. Nixon, Gov. Dan Thornton of Colorado, Movie Star Gary Cooper, Miss America and an assortment of Senators, Congressmen, Admirals, Generals and other Government officials....

The crowd was like that which gathers for no other occasion. They gathered in lines hundreds of yards long and said nothing during the many and lengthy strategic moments.

They crouched over the ropes bordering the green, wincing with the golfer if the ball went short, jubilating with him if the shot proved good. When they did talk, it was in a whispered vocabulary all their own. Such words as "birdie," "Mulligan," "shankin" all had their critical and cryptic significance....

Golfing proved its reputation for informal camaraderie. Vice President Nixon alternately stood and sat for a locker room interview - in his shorts. He slipped into a neatly monogrammed pale blue shirt ("my first initials - a present last Christmas") and a pair of light blue pants. Then he explained he got in at 3:30 a.m. from "being on the road" with political speeches and dourly predicted he'd make a 96. Instead he fired an 88.

He gained "putt concessions" from his partners, but no one could detract from his opening drive on the first fairway - 225 yards right down the middle.

Gary Cooper scored 76, but skipped five of the 18 greens. The tall tanned movie hero with his form-fitting white short-sleeved polo shirt created by far the biggest stir among the crowd at the first fairway.

"His hair is blondish," said one teenaged girl; "I thought he'd be all gray by now."

"It's thinning," her girl friend replied - with some triumph in her voice.

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 31, 2008; 1:48 PM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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Next: Misty May-Treanor: Into Chinese Food

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