9 AUGUST 2008

His two terms in office finish in November, and it seems US President George Bush is already considering a new career – as a potential athlete. The 62-year-old keen sportsman was determined to take full advantage of his visit to China on Saturday to practise a couple of Olympic sports.

Up early after spending the previous day with the other heads of state watching the Games' impressive opening ceremony, the fit President headed straight for the Beijing event's mountain-biking course.

Often seen on his bike, Mr Bush had a ball working up a sweat on the course, which he last tried out with Chinese athletes during his 2005 visit to the capital city. He revealed it was "really, really difficult," adding: "That's why I'm an amateur and they're Olympians."

From there, it was time to hit a few balls with US beach volleyball gold-medallist Misty May-Treanor and her partner, Kerri Welsh, before calling on his country's women's softball team at the Fengtai Sports Centre.

Watching the session, the President showed he has no doubts as to the team's chances. "These women are going to show young girls how to win," he declared.

Mr Bush ended his action-packed day by joining his family, including First Lady Laura, daughter Barbara, and his father, the first president George Bush, to take in some of the Olympic action.

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Practical joker and softball outfielder Laura Berg laughs with the President after carrying out her traditional prank on her country's leader - leaving a chalk handprint on his back. "You've been Bergied," the players told Mr Bush, who chuckled at the joke Photo: © Getty Images Click on photos for gallery
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Concentrating deeply, the President attempts to return a hit from beach volleyball gold-medallist Misty May-Treanor Photo: © Getty Images