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Red Bull Air Race - world's largest spectator sporting event: next race begins this weekend in Perth, Australia

British pilot Steve Jones climbs skyward, above the Danube River and the Hungarian Parliament Building, during a qualifying run of the Red Bull Air Race World Series in Budapest August 19, 2008

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The Red Bull Air Race, started in 2003, is a series of air races, held all over the world, where pilots fly specialized aerobatic planes (with top speeds of over 250 mph / 400 kph) through a series of gates, racing the clock, accumulating points toward the championship title. Pilots must also perform specific maneuvers while passing through the gates. The photos shown here are from the most recent two races, in Budapest, Hungary, and Porto, Portugal. The next race in the series is scheduled for November 1st, in Perth, Australia, and video of the event will also be streamed over the web. Last year's Red Bull Air Race World Championship final in Perth attracted 340,000 spectators.

Hungarian pilot Peter Besenyei (bottom), Britain's Nigel Lamb and Paul Bonhomme (top) fly over Budapest, Hungary

Hungarian pilot Peter Besenyei (bottom), Britain's Nigel Lamb and Paul Bonhomme (top) fly over Budapest, Hungary on August 17, 2008 during their "recon flight" prior to the seventh stage of the Red Bull Air Race World Series. Picture taken August 17, 2008.  read more »

Historical flight - Swiss ‘Rocketman’ Yves Rossy crosses English Channel with homemade jet wing in 10 minutes

the wings that Rossy straps to his back carry 30 litres of fuel

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TO INFINITY and beyond. But first, Kent. Daredevil Swiss pilot Yves Rossy soared into the record books yesterday by making the first solo flight across the English Channel - using a single, homemade rocket-powered wing strapped to his back. Mr Rossy, nicknamed "Fusionman", navigated the crossing from Calais to Dover in less than 15 minutes before proclaiming it was now possible for all of mankind to "fly a little bit like a bird".

Rossy reached speeds of 125mph during the short flight

Yves Rossy, 49, who calls himself Fusionman - half man, half bird - made the 21-mile, jet-powered flight from Calais, France, to Dover, England, in just less than 15 minutes while traveling at speeds of more than 125 mph, The Daily Telegraph said.

An airline pilot by day, Mr Rossy's attempts to traverse the 22-mile stretch had twice been thwarted by typically overcast British weather conditions. But by yesterday lunchtime, a crisp autumn day allowed the 49-year-old to drop from a light aeroplane 8,000 feet above the French coast and set off into clear blue skies.

route of the record-breaking flight  read more »

Season turnaround: an emotional Federer claims 5th consecutive US Open victory, sets sights on Sampras record

Federer, of Switzerland, won in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5, 6-2, breaking Murray's service games an incredible seven times

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So many of Roger Federer’s 13 grand slam trophies had been presented as the smooth work of a genius, as if there were nothing simpler in the world for the Swiss than easing through a draw-sheet. However, his latest triumph was not quite like that.

Federer with the 2008 U.S. Open trophy, which he has held since 2004

While Federer winning a fifth consecutive US Open title could never be seen as a shock result, he felt as though this slam title “had a different flavor”. And New York clearly savored that “different flavor”; here was something new in the Federer narrative.

Perhaps the tennis public had previously started to take Federer a bit for granted, believing that his slam victories had become almost too easy. His tennis at the start of this year was complicated by a bout of glandular fever, he lost in the semi-finals at the Australian Open to Novak Djokovic, and then finished as the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. The top ranking switched to the Majorcan over the summer.  read more »

Parties of the century: closing as well as the opening ceremonies of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Drummers performs during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China

Two Number Ones – China in Gold, U.S. in Total

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The Beijing Olympics have come to a close after 16 days of thrilling competition - with the home nation sat on top of the gold medal table.

China has spent seven years planning for this event. It must be relieved that these Olympics are being hailed as both a sporting and an operational success. Worries about air pollution, protesters and media freedom were eventually overshadowed by what went on in the sporting arenas.

general view of the festivities in Beijing National Stadium during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China

At the closing ceremony the International Olympic Committee President, Jacques Rogge, said they had been "truly exceptional games".

Best of the best

Worldwide, 200 countries provided a staggering 5,000 hours of coverage through rights-holding broadcast partners. In China, 842 million people - more than twice the population of the United States - tuned in to watch some part of opening ceremony.  read more »

Olympics open with full variety of athletes; flag bearers relishing moment, athletes celebrate, ready for the big Games

opening parade at 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

opening parade at 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

opening parade at 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

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opening parade at 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

China launched the 29th summer Olympics on Friday with a glittering opening ceremony combining 5,000 years of its history with a modern firecracker of a show.

The 91,000-strong crowd in the National Stadium, and more than a billion television viewers, earlier saw the hoisting of the Chinese flag which was carried into the stadium by children from China's 56 ethnic groups after 2,008 drummers had started the show.

opening parade at 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Around 11,000 athletes from a record 204 nations will compete in 28 sports for 302 gold medals at the first Olympics in China and third in Asia, following Tokyo in 1964 and Seoul in 1988.  read more »

"One hell of a show": Beijing opens 2008 Olympic Games with best show on earth

fireworks over National Stadium (known as Bird’s Nest) at opening ceremony rehearsal of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

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The only people who didn't enjoy the awe-inspiring Opening Ceremony of the XXIX Olympic Summer Games had to be the folks with the London Olympic organizing committee. They host the 2012 Summer Games, meaning they have to follow the greatest show on Earth -- and, for my yuan, the greatest show in Opening Ceremony history.

Beijing

If I were the Brits, I'd punt and go with Monty Python reruns. Unless they can top a gold medalist elevating and running on air around the entire circumference of National Stadium to light the torch. "I was very excited," torchbearer Li Ning said. "I could feel the strength rising from the depth of my heart. This was the result of one month's training. That moment means China is standing side by side with the rest of the world."

Olympic opening ceremonies, Beijing, 2008

Seminal as it was, that moment was merely the last gasp-inducing scene in a show full of fireworks, flying and gravity-defying. For four sweaty hours, the Olympics literally levitated in the thick Beijing air. The 14,000 performers staged a tour de force of choreography, technology and can-do-ology for a country intent on using the Games as a springboard to new world prominence.  read more »

Countdown to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games - athletes to watch, each with a story of their own

Dara Torres, United States - Swimming

Among those featured in Time special issue "100 Olympic Athletes To Watch":

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Dara Torres (United States) - 41, nine-time Olympic medallist in swimming and mother of a two-year old who has qualified for her fifth Olympic Games, something no other swimmer has ever done. The time in the 100m freestyle that got her a ticket to Beijing was 2.47 seconds faster than her Olympic effort in 1988, at age 21 - a lifetime in such a short race.

Liu Xiang, China - Hurdles

Liu Xiang (China) – 25. When Liu Xiang claimed victory in the 110-m hurdles in Athens, delivering China its first ever sprint gold, you could almost sense the alarm in the announcers' voices. Few had heard of this mystery athlete, much less knew how to pronounce his given name. What a difference four years make. In Beijing, Liu, 25, along with basketball star Yao Ming, will be the poster boy for China's mighty Olympic squad. His name (pronounced Sheeahng) means "to soar" in Chinese.

Usain Bolt, Jamaica - Sprints  read more »

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