Blind South Korean archer starts Olympics with new world record

And more Olympic headlines from around the world

By Nicholas Nehamas

Im Dong-hyun, who is legally blind, takes aim during a qualifying round for the men’s archery event at the 2012 London Olympic Games (Reuters)

With the Olympics opening ceremony only hours away, the global media turns its eye to London. In anticipation of the games’ kickoff, Latitude News brings you some of the most unusual Olympic headlines from around the world:

  • Astoundingly, a legally blind South Korean archer is the favorite to win the gold medal in his event. Im Dong-Hyun says he’ll win by uncannily focusing on the bright colors of the target’s bull’s-eye. He doesn’t want pity: “It’s unpleasant when people say I’m disabled. All this interest in my sight is not welcome.” His approach is garnering results already. Today, Im set a new world record in a qualifying round. (The Daily Mail of England)


  • The best part of the Olympics might not be the photo finishes or the world records, writes Ricarda Otta. Instead, she argues, it’s the transformative effects of urban planning. Barcelona used to be a mess of highways, train tracks and unfiltered sewage. But the city cleaned up its act in preparation for the 1992 games, emphasizing its magnificent views of the sea. Now the Catalan capital is one of Europe’s most sought-after destinations. Will this year’s Olympics do the same for London’s run-down East End? (Deutsche Welle of Germany)


  • Greece’s far right Neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn, has condemned the expulsion of triple jumper Voula Papachristou from the London games. Amid rising fears of outsiders in Greece, Papachristou tweeted, “With so many Africans in Greece…the West Nile mosquitoes will at least eat homemade food.” But a statement from Golden Dawn defended the disgraced athlete’s insensitive joke, claiming, “The only racism in Greece is the racism against Greeks.” (The Kathimerini of Greece)


  • The U.S. basketball team is still learning the ropes of the international game. Despite beating Argentina by six points earlier this week, stars like Lebron James still haven’t figured out international rules, which aren’t the same as those enforced by the NBA: James was called for traveling four times as the Dream Team blew two 20-point leads against the 2008 bronze medalist, Argentina. (The Buenos Aires Herald of Argentina)


  • Muhammad Ali remains determined to participate in the opening ceremony today despite the challenges he faces from Parkinson’s Disease. Even simple movements have become difficult for the world’s greatest boxer, whose fighting motto was “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Meanwhile, David Beckham has confirmed he’ll play a role in London’s extravaganza, though some expected the soccer star to sulk after Team Great Britain surprisingly excluded him from their squad. (The Independent of Ireland)


  • Haiti is sending five athletes to the Olympics games. But only one of them lives and trains on the Caribbean island nation. The other four were born and raised in America. Still, their loyalties lie with their homeland. “I still feel Haitian even if I wasn’t born there,” says sprinter Marlena Welsh. It’s a testament to their skill and dedication that they’ve made it to London at all: the Haitian Olympic Committee has an annual budget of $400,000. The U.S. spends $170 million. (The Globe and Mail of Canada)