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Reporters on the Job

April 23, 2008

Billiard players in this Beijing park must contend with rain delays. With the rise of Ding Junhui as one of the world's best snooker players, the popularity of the sport has blossomed.

Oded Balilty/AP

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Sudan's Humble Olympic Hopefuls: Correspondent Rob Crilly says he was impressed by the humility of the Sudanese Olympic runners he interviewed. "I'm used to seeing Western athletes with big egos who strut around the place. These are world-class athletes, but they were down-to-earth, and friendly to me at a time when they are very busy training. They were models of modesty."

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The humility of the athletes was matched only by the facility where they trained. "From the interior, the stadium doesn't look too bad – apart from the crevices in the track. But the exterior is a nest of scaffolding and rubble. It looks like a wasteland. Apparently, the government ran out of money before it was finished," says Rob.

As Rob and his driver left at dusk, the car fell into a three-foot-deep hole. "We had to knock on doors to get someone to pull us out," he says.

Exclusive Press Opening: Correspondent Mark Rice-Oxley says that there was "enormous interest" in the press event for a new Islamic think tank in London Tuesday. The group of former extremists plans to challenge the ideologies of violence.

Just getting into the event took some doing, partly because security seemed to be a concern. "There were about 200 invited guests, including journalists, and each was painstakingly checked in one by one. You didn't get in if you weren't on the list," says Mark. "Some of the organizers have had death threats."

Mark was struck by who was there: a cross section of Britain's intellectual elites. "I hope that it doesn't become a problem for this group. The closer they're seen to embrace the liberal, secular world, the harder it may be to maintain street cred with Muslim kids – presumably their target audience."

David Clark Scott

World editor

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