Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chinese Fireworks brighten Beijing Games

The Chinese did prepare well for the Olympics, they had the city of Beijing at its scintillating best and so were the other host-cities; but the icing on the cake was the splendid performance of their athletes to bring home (BRING home????) their first Olympics victory. They were so dominating, that the Olympics looked like ‘no-contest’ to them. When was the last time the U.S. of A. were so far away from the numero uno spot, in terms of the number of Gold-medals won.

Take a bow, China!

The Chinese dominated many fields, like, table-tennis, badminton, floor gymnastics and of-course, sync swimming. They also had a nice time in other fields, which was a major factor to overtake the haul of the U.S. of A. this time. The U.S. of A. had a good run, but in most cases had to settle for silver or bronze.

From the point of view of not-SO-great stats and follower of athletics, but just a guy who enjoys the Olympics, I can chart just a few things. A non-exhaustive list of achievements, of course…

First of all, if at all this Olympics is to be remembered by an athlete’s name, you can call it Phelps’ Olympics without a second thought. 8 games he participated in, and 8 gold medals he did win. He is one man who kept his promise even in a world class competition. At-least 6 of them were in world record time! Ask him about his daily schedule, surely you won’t believe your ears. I would say. If he can cover himself with gold every Olympics with that sort of schedule, I’m considering the option of trying to participate in the London Games. 16 Olympic medals and 8 golds in one particular edition, both became new records. The record of 7 golds held by Mark Spitz since ’72 Munich was unimaginably broken!

The 100m men dash! Three names will flash in your mind immediately, whether or not you know them. Before the final, there came one blow – Tyson Gay did not qualify for the finals! Then came the second blow… in less than 10 seconds of the finals, the world was to be shocked again to find Asafa Powell not on the podium. But, I don’t think that was the reason for that shocked, stoned, gasping, ‘searching for oxygen’ look on the face of 90000 odd people in the artistic Bird’s Nest and probably another few billions of international viewers and followers. It must have been Powell’s fellow athlete, Usain Bolt, who had enough time in the world to start late, race ahead of 7 others, look back over his shoulders and start celebrating atleast 20 m before the finish line and still finish with a world record time of 9.69 seconds!!!!! He also had a world record lead over the second placed athlete! Unbelievable? Believe it! (sorry, Repley’s! but, you would’ve said the same). And he came back again to win the 200 m gold too! His lightning-bolt celebration was an instant hit!

In tennis, debutant Nadal made this year even more special, clinching the gold. Federer, who was beaten by Blake, won the men’s doubles gold with Stanislas Wawrinka. In the women category, the all-Russian final saw Elina Dementieva clinched the gold medal, defeating Dinara Safina. If my memory serves me right, I think the Williams sisters clinched gold in doubles event.

Soccer saw Brazil winning the final, and after a long wait, the U.S. of A. won the basket ball event.

The U.S. of A. though didn’t have anything to cheer in the field of boxing this time around. Holifield didn’t seem to be happy at all. He blamed boxers’ hunger for money more than glory for this bad patch in their boxing history.

Kenyan, Samuel Wanjiru was the winner of the marathon event, considered to be THE race of any Olympics, hence he can be proud to be the winner of the Olympics! The Ethiopians, Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba won both the 5 km and 10 km in the men’s and women’s category respectively.

An important point to be noticed, the Beijing games saw 32 records being broken, a record in itself that it now shares with the Munich Games!

From an Indian’s point of view, this Olympics, by far was the best one, as India won a gold and two bronze medals. A country of 1.1 billion odd people managed 3 medals, and this happens to be the best performance. It will be some time for India to make a memorable performance in the Olympics. Prior to the Olympics, I was very disappointed as India failed to make the cut for hockey, the event in which India has won numerous gold medals.

So, the Olympics was a grand success. The Chinese government and citizens of Beijing made the Olympics a memorable one for all athletes. The Games had it all – success, failures, shocks, both sweet and bitter, glory and above all, pride!

Net edition, four years later, will be held in London. Only time will tell what is in store there…

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