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The Beijing Olympics were without doubt a huge success, both for the nation of China and our very own Great Britain. Never has an Olympic Games come under so much scrutiny and for the wrong reasons. We all know about the history of the Chinese human rights issues and this, for many, was a reason not to have given the Games to China. For me, this was a chance for China to show the world that they can and will move on from that and I have to say they grabbed it with both hands.
The opening ceremony was something to behold and I very much doubt, particularly taking the current economic climate, that London 2012 will be able to get anywhere near to the quality of performances and pyrotechnics that we witnessed last August. At the time, I was on my honeymoon in Malta and as the ceremony was going on, people just stopped exactly what they were doing and gathered round the nearest big screen for the next 3 hours, it really was that good.
Now onto the games. Without going into the details of every sport, all the facilities and infrastructure were superb, the stadiums and arenas were always full and the fans so enthusiastic. The athletes generally took things to another level with World Record after World Record being smashed. Who will ever forget Usain Bolt in the 100m final. He could have stopped for the toilet and still won.
Team GB, not usually 2 words we can be proud of, but at Beijing 2008, these fine athletes gave our nation something to cheer on a daily basis. There were some terrific individual and team performances, not least in the pool and the cycling. It really was 3 weeks to remember.
The closing ceremony was equally memorable.
What a great success.
4 years has come and gone and we've seen another Olympic Games. I always like to think the country with the best competitors will win the most medals but that's not always the case with the very real influence of drugs in modern sporting events.
This year its being held in China amongst problems with Pollution (expect to see lots of it despite the Governments best efforts to reduce vehicle emissions by actually banning traffic!), political protests (expect to see none of them unless you live in the West as all tv in China is censored by their overly protective Government) and hopefully a good Games in the spirit of fair play so hopefully little or no drugs issues as we've had in previous Olympics.
I'll be supporting all the competitors for Great Britain but as far as track & field goes everyone gets my support as I'm a former participant in most of the disciplines myself. As a former athlete from my RAF days I understand how much training it takes to become an Olympian.
I can relate to all the running events (having tried everything from 60m to marathon) including hurdling, and almost all the field events having tried everything apart from Hammer (I just wasn't strong enough) & Pole Vault (It just looked too dangerous!) so I can speak from the experience of having taken part in those events exactly how hard they are and how much they take out of you physically.
Obviously The Games aren't just about Track & Field, you can enjoy swimming, diving, gymnastics, sailing, rowing, archery, shooting, riding, cycling and a whole lot more which is why The Olympics takes place over 17 days. Every country sends its best and unless there are upsets then the best of the best will be the ones to triumph.
Expect to see lots of medals for the USA, Russia, Australia & China (for USA, Russia & China mainly because they have hundreds of competitors which always puts them in with a better chance. Australia for things like Swimming & Diving where they always perform well. USA hold lots of track & field records so they always do well due to the collegiate training system).
On the track in distance events the honours will most likely go to the African Nations (Ethiopia, Morocco, Tazania) as their athletes are the record holders there. Gymnastic honours generally go to China or Russia due to them starting their gymnasts very young indeed.
Not all events are so clear cut so lots of the other events are open for any country to win. The Games isn't all about the winners and the medals. Its best stories are so often about those just taking part from countries you've probably never heard of with populations that are smaller than the number of people who attended your local school.
You don't have to win to be an Olympian, you just have to be able to give it the best of your ability like Eddie The Eel, a swimmer from the last Games. Cheer for your fellow countrymen & women. Applaud & appreciate those breaking World & Olympic Records. But the people who should really get your support are those small countries (who might only comprise of 1 athlete) but the ultimate honour in sport is to wear the colours of your country in an Olympic Games.
Sport brings us together to settle our differences on the field, The Olympics was created in that ideal for warriors to maintain their peak fitness levels without the need for wars or battles.
So watch The Games in the spirit they were created, in peace and in brotherhood. Appreciate the endeavors of your fellow human beings, that way everyone can be a winner. Through sport we can be united in peace and fellowship.
Now that the olympics are over for another 4 years it seems the perfect time to reflect on the events that start on 08.08.08 in the Chinese city of Beijing.
You cannot fail to have noticed that even before the start of the Olympics there where constant reports about air pollution and how it may affect the athletes and many views over the city looking like smog bound London. In addition to this all was not well in Quindao etiher there where lots of boats out in the sea removing massive amounts of weed in order that the sailing could take place incident free, things where not looking good for China.
The opening ceremony was spectacular and really everything we had been hoping for and expect from the Chinese, stunning costumes and fireworks abound but sadly once again more troubles when it emerged that some of the fireworks we had watched at home where computer generated and even pre-recorded and the young child singing was a replacement for the girl who sang the song, all about the look, but lets face it in reality and todays society I hold no doubts that most countries would pull this same trick so that the look was right. Personally I don't feel cheated out of anything from these actions but I may very well have felt differently had I actually been in Beijing and wondering afterwards whether I had walked around with my eyes closed.
Saturday 9th August events are underway and after dragging myself out of bed and heading to the sofa I made myself comfortable, drinks, snacks and controller in hand and off we go. OK I admit it I love the Olympics and having the ability to choose what to watch via the red button is even better as I can now focus on the sports I have more interest in and you do get the opportunity to watch some of the less popular events.
I'm not going to go throught every day with a blow by blow account but look back on some of my favourite moments.
Swimming - very popular in my house as my daughter is a swimmer and has a small obsession with Michael Phelps and was keen to monitor his quest to win an impressive eight gold medals during the games and become the greatest Olympian ever, but could he achieve this?. Phelps was off to a good start with his 1st final wining easily but there was a question of the relay races where he was heavily reliant on 3 other memebers of the team to help him and for final 2 it looked like Phelps was going to fail before he really got going with the US team have to have a fantastic last leg to just touch first. Phelps went on winning everytime but with race 7 approaching as a sprint race which are notoriously close again we held our breath; Phelps won on the final stroke of the race by 1 100th of a second which really comes down to how hard you hit the timing board at the end, it was that close and he went on to achieve his dream of eight golds breaking 7 world records and one Olympic record along the way.
Far from Phelps the British girls where having a great time in the pool with more medals than expected with Rebecca Addlington being the star here with a surprise gold in the 400m freestyle piping the favourite to the post followed by a world record for the 800m freestyles and as far as I am concerned this world record realy counts as it has stood for 19 years. Lets not foget the two silvers and bronze for the 10K open water swim what an achievement and I think you have to be slightly mad to do this event in the 1st place.
Diving - I have always enjoyed the diving and I am always impressed with the 10m board, how do they even jump of something that high never mind dive? I have jumped of a 3 meter board and I can tell you its a long way down, much further than you think from standing on the side of a pool. Tom Daley being the focus of the British media in the build up to the games due to his young age - imagine age 14 and being able to compete at the Olympics but did we as a nation put too much pressure on him to get a medal in the syncro as the result was not really what Tom and his partner where looking for.
Personally I think that it was an achievement in itself to get to the syncro final as this is a straight final with only eight pairs competing in Beijing. Tom fared much better in his individual event reaching the final and coming an impressive 7th, OK its not a gold medal but lets take nothing away from Tom, he didn't even expect to reach the final.
Gymnastics is another of the events I really enjoy and to see a British team here shows that we have made progress in this sport as it was not that long ago that we did not have enough good gymnastis to make up a girls team and what few we did have had to go on the mixed team for the qualification round. Here again there was some controversy over the marking with even some of the gymnasts themselves frowning and giving questioning looks at some of the marks particularly with the Chinese competitors and following this allegations over the age of some of the Chinese girls as you have to be aged 16 to compete here in this sport. Well done to Beth Tweddle who managed a comendable 4th in the bars.
Taekwando - British hopes yet again and we came away with a Silver medal but again another sport where there was controversy over the refering and commentators getting ver disgruntled with what was happening. It appeared that it was almost impossible to score a point when your opponant was from the home nation in the mens event.
In the womens event this was also apparent resulting in the British team lodging a protest as an obvious kick to the face had not been scored which would have changed the result of the contest. After a period of consulation and viewing of TV footage and press photographs the decision being overturned and the win being given to GB and the Chinese champion being out of the contest.
The mens final was even more of a shocker with the Cuban competitor being disqualified for taking over the 1 minute allowed for treatment to an injury during the contest which resulted in the referee receiving a kick to the face and a lifetime ban for the Cuban and his coach.
Rowing - lets not forget one of the sports we have always been fairly good at and have achieved golds in the past the mens rowing, could be again win gold in the cocksless 4 for the 3rd time in a row? We all recall the names of Sir Steve Redgrave and Mathew Pincent who have been our heros in rowing in the past but now with 3 new members in the boat could we do it again. Yet again in another close race we were the champions retaining our place at the top of the tree in this event but how much pressure is now on us to win for a 4th time in 2012 especially as it will be on home ground?
For me I have to say that I also enjoyed the commentary given throughout the games with a few memorable moments where the commentators themselves where that excited that words nearly failed them and some very high pitched voices at points and some sore throats I should think but it certainly did help you keep an interest and add to the excitment.
One of the funniest moments for me was when Steve Parry (bronze medal swimmer in Athens) was sent out onto the streets of Beijing with a full size cardboard cut out of Michael Pheps to find out what the locals thought about Pheps. It became apparent that Phelps was very well known locally but Steve was mistaken for Phelps and literally mobbed by a crowd trying to take his phot and get is autograph. The BBC showed the footagae with Steve trying to tell the crowd that he was not Phelps, but Steve Parry and if you compare the looks of the 2 there are slightly similar in look.
One of our hopes for medals were our relay teams but diaster struck with a disqualification in the mens 4 x 100 for transfer of the batton outside the allowed area but even worse our girls had problems during their race with a batton change also, though if you watch this back there were all sorts of problems for other teams which may have impacted on our failure. The only saving moment is that the Americans where even worse and both the mens and womens teams dropped the batton so they where worse than us.
Cycling has to be the one event that that we have excelled at over recent years with the sport been thrown into the public eye due to our continued and ever improving sucess in this sport. Both the mens and womens team picked up a bundle of gold medals and an impressive world record for the guys in the team perusit. Though why are we so good a cycling and so aweful at track and field events? Is this down to the way the training is handled, how we train as this has to be a factor, we look at the cycling team who all train out of Manchester in the veledrome with a very strict programme and regime by all accounts, maybe we should have a 'centre of excellence' for athelitcis as well where all train together as a team?
One thing that has to be said, we would not have achieved anything without the contribution from lottery funding which has enabled athletes to focus full time on their sport and training no longer having to hold down a full time job in addition in order tgo continue to travel and compete. I feel that funding should be exteneded to younger age groups also as there must be hundereds of young teenagers out there is fantastic ability that are not furtunate enough to come from a background where they can fund their own travel and expenses to commpete as no matter how good you are you have to be out there competing no matter what the sport.
The closing ceremony again was spectacular with a flawless display with GB having and 8 minute slot to strut their stuff and give a taster of what we will offer in 2012. I can imagine that the majority of the crowd in the stadium had no idea who Leona Lewis or Jimmy Page where but the certainly all knew who David Beckham was judging by the roar of the crowd. I enjoyed the spectable of the traditional London bus converting into a stage and overall a good eight minutes which where in total contrast to what the Chinese have done.
Admittedly, I am not a massive sports fan but even I make an exception when it comes to the once-every-four-years spectacle that is the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games showcases the best of the best, it is the pinnacle of sport for all of its competitors and is a spectacle to watch for us mere mortals! The Olympics of 2008 was the 29th Olympic Games, and what an amazing games it was too.
The Olympics Games of 2008 took place in Beijing, the capital city of China. China was awarded these games in 2001, and have spent the past 7 years creating the amazing venues that we have seen on our television screens over the past 2 weeks across the city. These venues include the 90,000 seat Bird's Nest Stadium, home of athletics, the Velodrome where the cycling took place, the Watercube which was home of all things aquatic and the Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing. These are the main venues I remember but there were many more spread throughout Beijing.
Over the two weeks of the Olympic Games, more than 11,000 athletes descended upon China and were living in the purpose built Athletes Village. All of them were eager to pick up one of the coveted Olympic medals, which signal you are simply the best in the world at your sport. Countries from all over the world attended, whether they bought with them hundreds of athletes or just one superstar. Each of the participating countries took part in the magnificent Opening Ceremony, marching proudly with their flag and all athletes taking part proudly walked along, waving to the world who were watching. Team GB, consisting of 311 athletes, was led by Mark Foster, a veteran GB swimmer, who carried the flag for our country, with our smartly suited team following behind.
The Beijing Olympics started off with a bang with ones of the most spectacular Opening Ceremonies ever to be witnessed. The Olympics opened on the 8th of August, and boy did China put on one hell of a show. It featured everything from fantastic choreography, traditional Chinese music, and of course the now infamous miming girl who replaced the girl deemed "too unattractive" to appear in front of the world singing with that angelic voice. Despite this taint on the ceremony, it was a spectacle and a joy to watch, and many have questioned how London is going to be able to beat that when we host our own Opening ceremony in August 2012.
Instead of a day by day run through of the games (which I won't do because all the days blend together for me lol!) I am just going to talk about the main medal winners throughout the games, and hope to cover the events featured in the games. In total, there are an amazing 28 sports played at the Olympics games from shooting to cycling to Gymnastics to Athletics. I myself really enjoy watching the swimming, gymnastics and athletics but I have actually paid more attention to a broader range of sports than I normally would do because they have been so interesting to watch.
The most successful sport for Great Britain by far was Cycling, picking up 13 medals overall and can I just say how thrilling that was to watch! To see our young stars get to so many finals and win so many gold medals was phenomenal and is testament to what hard work can achieve. Chris Hoy was simply on fire, and his 3 Gold medals are completely deserved. He is a great talent in British cycling, and I hope he will encourage younger men and women to join the sport. Ex-rower turned cyclist Rebecca Romero was amazing against fellow Brit Wendy Houvenaghel in the Women's Individual Pursuit for the gold medal, and it was great knowing we would take a Gold whichever woman won. These girls performed brilliantly, continuing our fantastic Gold rush in Cycling. Victoria Pendleton continued our successive streak winning Gold in the women's Sprint, Bradley Wiggins rode the ride of his life to his gold medal in the Men's Individual Pursuit, so we really swept the board in the Track Cycling.
Great Britain have also obtained a lot of Gold Medals in the water events too. Our Men's Coxless four team managed to bring home the Gold Medal for us in a magnificent race, and the "3 blondes in a boat" Yngling girls did it again for us in the Sailing. Our Lightweight Men's Double Sculls team were favourites before the games and didn't disappoint getting us another gold, and Ben Ainslie grabbed his 3rd Olympic Gold in the Sailing once more after a nervous start! We also got a surprise gold in the Canoeing from Tim Brabants, and we actually got more medals than what I have mentioned too! But the most memorable Water Gold for us has to be the fantastic double-gold from 19 year old Mansfield lass Rebecca Adlington who seems to be the 2008 Games hero for GB. She came out of nowhere in the 400m freestyle to snatch Gold in a shock victory and then simply stormed to a world-record-breaking swim in the 800m freestyle, breaking a record as old as herself to get her second Gold of the games. Truly inspirational, and a wonderful win for such a young woman.
As well as the amazing medal hauls we pulled in from the Cycling and Water sports, we also grabbed a few surprise Gold Medals as well. One I watched eagerly and with great anticipation was the Gold Medal bought in the Middleweight Boxing. London lad James DeGale wanted to win again Cuban fighter Correa, and after a bit of a dirty fight which had both men warned on several occasion, DeGale came out on top in a superb victory, ending our Gold Medal total at 19! 400m World Champion sprinter Christine Ohurougu didn't disappoint as she broke through the pack to grab the Olympic Gold with both hands to add to her ever-growing collection of titles. Ohurougu has been up against some criticism since her ban due to missing drugs tests, but has really done GB proud and won our only Athletics Gold medal of the Games. 19 Golds is Britain's best Gold Medal total since the 1908 games, and we definitely deserved every single one of them, only being beaten for golds in the table by Russia, USA and China.
Although Gold Medals are of course the most celebrated, we can't forget that we also managed to grab 13 Silver medals, and 15 Bronze too. The highlights for me include the Silver medal won by Emma Pooley in the Women's Time Trial cycling. She cycled her heart out for that medal, and up until the end I really thought she had the gold, but sadly the US rider Armstrong stole that from her! 2 of our rowing teams, the Men's Eights and the Women's Quadruple Sculls also picked up amazing Silver medals too. A shock athletics silver medal came from the Men's High jump, an event we didn't expect to feature highly in, as Germain Mason cleared 2.34 metres to win the Silver Medal. However, disappointingly, Gold medal hope Phillips Idowu only managed a silver with a jump of 17.62 metres, with World Champion Evora beating him by just 5 cm! Idowu was visibly distraught and was seen being comforted on the sidelines by fellow athlete Darren Campbell, and it was tough to watch his dreams falling apart in front of us.
Superb Bronze medals for me include Joanne Jackson, who swam along with Rebecca Adlington in the Women's 400m freestyle and managed to get a bronze, despite only being fourth at the halfway point! But our girls had 2 podium places, which was fantastic. A shock Gymnastics medals for us was young Louis Smith on the Pommel Horse, who shocked us all by winning a bronze, which was almost a silver! Another athletics came for us in the form of a Bronze medal for 400m hurdler Natasha Danvers-Smith. She made the best run of her life, getting a Personal Best time of 53.84 seconds, coming third only to the USA and Jamaica. An amazing run and a well deserved medal! We also gained 2 bronze medals from Boxing; Tony Jeffries and David Price. It was an amazing medals haul for our little country, an amazing total of 47 medals.
Now to the other stand out events for me in the Olympic games. How can anyone review the Olympics Games of 2008 without mentioning the greatest Olympian of all-time...Michael Phelps. Phelps managed to score a record breaking 8 Olympic Gold Medals, making him the best of all time. He won 6 Golds at Athens 2004, but surpassed that magnificently by taking all 8 medals from the 8 races he competed in, along with a superlative 7 world records. His aim for 8 golds was nearly over in the 100m butterfly when Serbian swimmer Cavic seemed ahead of Phelps, but at the end Phelps won by a mere 1/100 of a second...even now when I look at the slow-motion video I'm still convinced he didn't win that race! But Phelps was a powerhouse in every other race he competed in, and credit has to also go to the other swimmers in the American relay teams to help him obtain those Golds. It was amazing to watch, and its great to see the Greatest Ever Olympian crowned in our time.
The other most amazing result of the games was Jamaican Sprint sensation Usain Bolt who took home 3 Gold Medals, and 3 amazing World Records. Bolt competed in the 100 metres, 200 metres, and 4x100m relay. As Bolt took his place on the starting blocks for the 100 metres race alongside sprinters Asafa Powell, Richard Thompson, Michael Frater and Walter Dix among others, Anticipation for a new World Record was high. However, as the starting pistol rang out, no-one could have expected what we were about to see. Bolt ran amazingly quickly out of the blocks, and his enormous stride ensured he broke away from the pack with ease. Halfway through the race, he began to slow down and literally jogged the other 50 metres, crossing the line in an amazing 9.69 seconds, beating his own World Record by 3/100 of a second. Amazing, but we still had the 200m race to come. This was Bolt's specialty, but this record has stood for 12 records, and was held by the great Michael Johnson with a time of 19.32.
Bolt was almost showboating at the start of the race, he seemed so confident that he could win it. As he burst out of the blocks once more, he sprinted so far ahead immediately it was obvious he'd be gaining another Gold Medal. But this time, all I was interested in was his time. As he powered his legs towards the finish line it looked like the World Record was going to go...and it went with style. Bolt kept running, almost for his life, and smashed the World Record, with a new time of 19.3, knocking 2/100ths of a second off the great Johnson time! He was absolutely over the moon, and it was great to see the records going with apparent ease. Even Michael Johnson's reaction in the BBC Box was of pure joy and it is definitely something I won't forget.
Elsewhere in Athletics, Britain was very disappointing, only managing to take 4 medals, only one of which was a gold. But I felt our most disappointing races came in the form of the relay races, where we just fell apart at the seams. Our men's 4x100m team, including Craig Pickering, and Marlon Devonish were favourites for a medal after the US men's team crashed out at the first hurdle. But I couldn't believe what I was seeing as Devonish and Pickering made a total cock-up of the baton pass, disqualifying our team and leaving us short of another medal. It was heart-breaking to see the men defeated, and Pickering clearly bore the main burden, but what an awful error to make at a vital time and it cost us dearly, disqualifying us from the heat, and therefore from the 4x100m overall.
Our 4x100m women's team seemed a better hope after they got through to the finals and seemed like they could actually win a medal. We started well, but it was only at the second baton exchange that things fell apart for us once more, with Emily Freeman reaching for the baton but she didn't manage it and so we weren't able to finish the final, leaving Russia free to win. So disappointing once more, and I dreaded the 4x400m relays! However things did slightly improve and showed the 4x100m teams how its done. Our 4x400m ladies team including newly crowned Olympic champion Ohurougu got through to the final, but just couldn't keep up with the pace, and final leg runner Nicola Sanders was left with too much to do and we finished 5th. Our men's 4x400m team included excellent 400m runner Martyn Rooney, and after an extremely fast qualifying time, hopes were high for a medal. But once more, GB struggled to keep up with the pace, and Rooney just couldn't make up the time of the final leg, and we came in 4th, which left Rooney visibly annoyed and disappointed. Although our relay team didn't perform as expected, one team outperformed any other and that was the Jamaican team, which included 2 of the fastest sprinters of our time Asafa Powell and the current 100m Gold Medallist Usain Bolt. I expected great things from them, but what they did was outstanding. The Jamaican men managed to smash the 15 year old World Record held by the USA men's team of 1993 by 0.3 seconds, making the new World Record an amazing 37.1 seconds. This led to Bolt gaining his 3rd World Record and 3rd Gold Medal of the Games, making us all wonder if Bolt could ever be beaten. It was an amazing race, and the Jamaican's just seem to have what it takes to outrun the rest of the world.
So overall I felt that the relays for the GB athletics team were quite a let-down and definitely something we need to improve on for London 2012. But we have definitely seen some rising stars come through this year for us who I hope to see more of in London 2012, such as 14 year old diver Thomas Daley, who finished in a magnificent 7th place in the Men's Diving final, 100m sprinter Harry Aikines-Aryeety, Martyn Rooney of the 400m, Beth Tweddle in the Gymnastics who guttingly finished in 4th place on the Uneven bars, and
The Beijing Olympics definitely carried on the Olympics in fine tradition, despite many places in the world being unsure about the games being held in China. China did an amazing job with the purpose built venues for the games, but I do wonder what they will be used for now the games are over (and once the Paralympic games are completed too). All of the athletes have commented on how nice the Athletes village was, and despite worries about pollution and adjusting to the climate, it seems the 2008 games were a roaring success for China. One thing that has to be noted is how many times I saw empty seats around the stadiums for events, which was disappointing. Perhaps because China is very far away for Europe and the US there was not as much attendance but I do feel it a shame that attendance for the best sports event of the year was quite low. As well as somewhat bad attendance, the games has been hit by more drugs scandals. Ex-Silver medallist in the Heptathlon Lyudmila Blonska has been stripped of her medal after testing positive for drugs in a random test, and is now about to given a lifetime ban from the Olympics by the IOC (International Olympics Committee). 5 horses in the Equestrian events tested positive for banned substances and were consequently thrown out of the Games along with their riders, and another 5 athletes all tested positive for other banned substances. This is a small number considering how many athletes attended the Games but it is a shame the athletes have to resort to these measures to win unfairly.
For Team GB this was the best year for us in the Olympic games since 1908, because we managed to get an amazing 19 Golds medals, and 47 medals overall, placing us overall 4th in the medals table. The host country China finished at the top of the table which an insurmountable 51 gold medals (100 medals overall), a whole 15 Gold medals ahead of 2nd place country USA. China apparently had been on an intensive hunt to find athletes and get them trained in as many sports as possible to win as many medals as possible and it looked like they certainly succeeded. Russia were placed just above us in the table, with 23 Gold medals (72 overall), with Germany just behind us in 5th place with 16 Golds (41 medals overall). Australia were surprising as they did not perform overly well at the games, only managing 6th spot on the medals table with 14 golds, and 46 overall medals. Britain did amazingly well, but we still need to drastically improve in several areas, especially the Athletics before London 2012 if we want to beat our medal haul of Beijing 2008. However, I hope to see our stand out performers Chris Hoy and Becky Adlington given some sort of honour for their spectacular sporting achievements as Kelly Holmes was honoured after her performance in 2004.
For me, the Olympic Games was a real success, and was fascinating to watch on the television. The BBC were given the rights to distribute the games, and did so magnificently with several ways of viewing the games, from online to the Interactive service to the all-round television programmes with some of the BBC's best sports presenters such as Sue Barker, Gabby Logan, Hazel Irvine and other presenters Matt Baker, Adrian Chiles alongside expert commentators such as Jonathan Edwards, Michael Johnson, Colin Jackson, and Sharron Davies among others. The coverage was fantastic and this made the whole Games even more enjoyable as you could really watch at your own leisure. China really did put on an Games for the world, and some amazing new records were set, the Greatest ever Olympian was crowned, and it leaves us wondering how we are ever going to beat that Opening Ceremony and the "flying man" lighting the Olympic Flame over the Bird's Nest Stadium!
For all things related to the Olympic Games and the forthcoming Paralympic Games, see the official Beijing 2008 website http://en.beijing2008.cn/. For the Official Team GB Olympics website, see http://www.olympics.org.uk/beijing2008/.
Thank you for reading, and I'm now looking forward to London 2012...only 4 years to go!
Well the Olympic party has moved on to the paralympic games next before we can really focus on London 2012, I must say I find it annoying that this event still gets such little coveridge, surely the handover as an Olympic venue from Beijing to London should have took place at the closing ceremony of these games and not the ones just finished after all there were a couple of contestants able to compete in both events so certainly their Olympics has not ended and neither has that of many athletes funded by our own lottery money.
I wonder if Dooyoo will actually decide to set up a seperate category for us to review or will they ignore it as well?
As for the actual Beijing games well it was an excellent well organised games that was certainly a success for Team GB. Rebecca Adlington in the pool was a revelation, I liked the observation from one of the guys on Mock the Week when he said she looked like a girl who could work in Greggs, I did not see this as an insult more a compliment at how wonderfully grounded she was and down to earth, especially when you compare it with the way the Americans lorded Phelps as the greatest Olymiad ever, now eight golds does truly make you a great in your sport but remember in swimming you can win multiple medals for basically doing the same thing but just bunging on a couple of extra lengths. I reckon five golds in five games is a bit better or doing ten very different events to pick up a gold like the American winner of the decathlon.
The games were well organised and the venues looked great, the opening ceremony was something else, missed the closing one but the news clips looked impressive.
The Beijing Olympics was the greatest olympics for Great Britain in the last god knows how long.
Especially in the swimming pool, where Dame Rebecca Adlington bought home two god medal glories. She also broke a world record for the 400m freestyle.
She was not the only Britain who bought home gold. Chris Hoy bought home an astonishing 3 gold medals for his track cycling and sprint.
Christine Ohuruogu won a gold medal for her efforts in the 400m race.
The 19 gold medals won by team GB were mostly for track cycling and rowing to which we can argue that the British are best.
There were also 13 silver medals won again mostly to do with water sports and track cycling, although there were a few won for athletics. One of which was won by triple-jump favourite Phillips Idowu.
The Great Britan team this olympics have been the best for a long time and we can definitely conclude that as there are many youngsters on this team, the 2012 olympics in London are going to be even better.
This has to have been one of the most enjoyable Olympics for a long time and certainly one of Great Britains most successful ones.
A record haul of medals for the team was achieved and most importantly a lot of these were gold, we even had the pleasure of beating Australia in the medals table and this has caused uproar over there with plans to copy our own lottery system to raise extra funds to coach their athletes.
The additional lottery funding and the centres of excellence have made a huge difference to British sports people especially when you compare the success of our athletes with the pantomine actions of out pampered football players where clubs will spend on one player enough to fund the training of all our elite athletes over the next four years. When you see the pouting hypocracy of Ronaldo employers Man Utd refusing to let him play where he wants to and his sulking behaviour with the dedication and focus of our rowers or cyclists then I know where I would rather my money go.
It was a pleasure to see the games hit the headlines and relegate those over paid ponces from the back page. Maybe we should be taxing the premiership with a windfall tax and diverting even more money to athletes who will bring this country some pride and respect.
The games themselves were impressive, the stadiums were fantastic looking and the opening and closing ceremony were breath taking. London will not, and should not try to out do the Chinese, after all they spent over £20bn whie this country will spend less than £10bn and hen you factor in inflation the Chinese figure is even more impressive.
The Chinese did get some things wrong with the ticketing which left stadiums half empty however I shudder to think what it will be like in London with touts having a field day, our stadiums will be full but at what price?
Highlights of the games for me have to be the two supreme runs by Jamacian sprinter Bolt, indeed the small island dominated the sprinting in both genders, proving that runners can go fast and be clean as well. In fact the majority of the drugs cheats were white and Russian and caught before the games suggesting that the cold war is well and truly back as they resort to doping to recapture their lost dominance of track and field.
My other highlights are Chris Hoy on the podium after getting his third gold medal, a big man in more ways than one humbled by the realisation of his achievements, made all the greater by the fact he has had to change event since the last Olympics. Also Christine Orahugu showing that winning when the pressure is on is the big test and the mark of a champion and shoving in the face of all those racist commentators who drag up the drug test thing just because of her colour, if she was white it would have been well forgotten by now.
I must say I'm looking forward to London 2012, I hope it will be a different kind of games and a big party, only the thought of seeing bonking Boris at the forefront fills me with dread but you cannot have everything.
Not since Newham Borough Council opened its brand new Dole office in East London at the home of the next Olympic site have so many nationalities from around the world gathered in one place in such anticipation, the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony seeing 205 countries competitors march proudly around the impressive 'Birdsnest' stadium with huge smiles. It was a startling party and very Chinese Circus, all manner of exquisite celebrations and visual treats to wow the 90, 000 crowd. The Chinese were taking no chances with any minor detail, even seeding the storm clouds over the stadium to stop any disrupting rain in true communist style. The smog, of course, was never going to lift much and the murky grayness that contrasted the striking latticed stadium gives Beijing a Bladeruuner backdrop, the gushing orange Olympic torch failing to light a portentously polluted sky that is the world's grim future.
The Americans continued to snub their hosts at every opportunity, their Stars n Stripes bearer being their only Sudanese American athlete on the team, presumably some sort of protest over Chinas continuing support of the genocide in the North African country (the Americans sulking because they didn't get the oil and arms deals there more like...).
*** Olympic Trivia ****
Tim Forster, a British rowing Olympic gold medalist from the Sydney Games, nearly ended up carrying the Liechtenstein national flag in the stadium. He's a rowing coach working in Switzerland these days and because that countries accreditation didn't come from in time he had to use the tax haven forms, meaning the Liechtenstein people got wind of an Olympic champion on their books and thrust the flag at him to go spike the mound.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Russia, on the other hand, took the distraction of the Games as a chance to invade Georgia and get one back at America on behalf of China, the small democratic republic making the fatal decision to builds its own oil and gas pipeline that by-passes Mother Russia to sell to America and the west. Georgia's now a steaming pile of rubble that looks like a jigsaw puzzle tipped out of the box. Russia chose the moment well. America, rather pathetically, complained about them invading another sovereign country for oil.
No medals on the first day for the Brits but lots of Chinese silly people trying to make a point now they are in the spotlight at last. The predictable Middle class students from England climbed flag poles to impress their mates back home but it would be tame stuff compared to what's to come here. Two American tourists were murdered in the centre of Beijing in some sort of nutcase protest, the killer then committing hari-kari by hurling himself of a famous tall pagoda, Barry George style. And then someone set fire to the Olympic Rings at the rowing centre, contributing a bit more smog to the middle of the day that really didn't needed it, quickly extinguished by the Chinese organizers. Well there was plenty of water and seaweed around! The Iraqi rowing team was on the river at the time, two of only four guys they have sent here, and the guys no doubt used to it and seeing burning buildings on the river bank. With American gun ships chasing them down the Tigress I suspect they will be quite useful this week in the boat.
Judo man Craig Fallen became Britain's first of very few big disappointments in the games when he failed to make a medal match, twice suffering the fatal 'Ipon' fall in the repotage`. He looked to be at least on for a bronze medal fight when well ahead against an Israeli, before being flung around like rag doll for the final two minutes of the bout. Judo would be one of the very few well funded sports here where Team GB failed to perform in.
Michael Phelps got gold medal number one, winning the 400m individual by a world record, ominous to say the least, and he's not wearing the Laser Suit that has claimed 51 World Records this year, 8 in 9 days in the US trials in June alone. The swimming finals are in the middle of the night here as the US insisted on that for prime-time US TV, Phelps clearly their box-office in the games.
Outside and the storm clouds regrouped and attacked Beijing, enough rain to cause leaks in the BBC studio roof no less, poor Sue Barker sharing a bucket for company on her live slot. Now she knows how Adrian Childs feels on the 'One Show' next to that annoying smiley Irish woman. But this is good old British weather, the stuff Paul Radcliff wouldn't mind for the marathon, clearing the air big time. Nicola Cook in the cycling absolutely loved it, winning the Island nations first medal of the games, and gold too, GBs 200th gold ever, powering home in the road race in a dramatic finish. She had already won the ladies Tour de France twice and proved her greatness here. It would be a good omen to medal big so early. The ladies nearly prospered in the archery final, losing in the bronze medal match to the French. The Koreans went on to win the final by beating China in a rowdy affair. Korea has now won this gold in every games going back to 1988. So keen were Korea to defend that record they rebuilt the Chine Archery stadium to every detail back home, right up until the crowd placement in eye-lines.
Rebecca Adlington from Mansfield delivered Britain's second gold, this time in the amazing aquatic centre, 'Water Cube', Jo Jackson getting the bronze for team GB to cap a great 400m freestyle (front crawl). It was our first women's gold for 48 years in the pool and pushed team GB up the medal table big time. Phelps continued his 100% record with gold and another WR in the men's 100m freestyle final.
Andy Murray reinforced the importance of tennis to his Olympic dream by losing against an unknown guy in the singles. The point of the Olympics is to showcase events and athletes of which this is their biggest final, which is clearly not the case for tennis. As expected the pressure was too much for little Tom Daley and he messed up his part of the dives in the synchro. His partner Steve Aldridge took the opportunity to get back at the 14-year-old for all the publicity he hasn't been getting and slagged the kid off on live news. Tom is adorable and the nation was fervently on his side of the argument.
* * * Olympic Trivia * * *
George Clooney, Hollywood's political mouthpiece, and now a UN peace envoy, accepted a huge sponsorship deal from Omega watches last year, on condition they would bring up Darfur in Sudan with China One year on the watch company haven't said anything and George still sports a $23,000 timepiece at the Olympic opening ceremony-on a 30ft advertising board outside the Olympic stadium. His smile is very much tightlipped and smug on that poster.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
-Day 4 -
Phelps...WR...gold medal number 3! The big America owns the 'Watercube', the space age swimming facility that changes color at night from inside out, tiny membranes on the ceiling having water pumped through it 24/7 to produce the beautiful color changes.
The water was as equally as choppy from Phelps outboard motor wake on the Kayak run, where David Florence won GB silver, which should have been Gold because the winner seems to brush the gate. The posh horsy types took double bronze in the purpose built equestrian arena, the third stage of the three-day-event, far too easy a short course and fences.
* * * Olympic Trivia * * *
The Beijing cabbies, like everybody else in the city, are under surveillance by the authorities to make sure they too put on a good show. If they don't wear the regulation yellow shirts and beige shorts or trousers they cop a $50 fine. But with half the cars you normally get on the streets due to Olympic regulations the journeys were much quicker in return. Daley Thompson in the 1984 Olympics perhaps caused the most controversy over a T-Shirt in a Games, wearing one with the words, 'The world's second greatest athlete is gay'. Carl Lewis, the target of Daley's humor, claimed it was Thompson 'outing' himself, whilst two attractive young female athletes in Los Angeles's said they were 'both' with Daley the other night and he's certainly not gay.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Phelps...2 more gold's... two more world records....That's five in total here and a record eleven Olympic gold's in his career. Phelps quotes that: he doesn't want to be the old Mark Spitz he wants to the new Mark Phelps". There were six WRs in the pool overnight. I want what they are on!
Sarah Pooley won silver in the pool for GB, the British chipping away at that 35 grand total expected of them in this games.
Georgia and Russia went head to head, butt to butt, on the beach volleyball court. I think we all agree the best way to solve any conflict is on the women's beach volley-ball court! The Georgians had a couple of Brazilian ringers in the duo and overpowered the Ruskies; the delightfully named 'Lopez' Shagass hitting the winning smash. God I love this event, especially when it rains! The Murray boys continued their mid-season break in China by losing the doubles in the tennis with ease. No ranking points then no point!
The Brits continued to dominate in the rowing, making eleven finals out of twelve possible. They were helped when the Aussie team bus was broadsided by a local minibus on the road into the event, the said vehicle sent spinning, flipping and cartwheeling through the air like the under age Chinese gymnast have been doing on the floor displays. There were two deaths of Chinese locals and the team was shaken. Swimming had their Frankie Gavin, boxing moment by not making the weight in the 200 freestyle, the fancied Brit relay team not making the 200 final after resting their best swimmers.
The big seed in the tennis continued to lose in half-empty stadiums and making a mockery of the tournament.
It was gold for GB in the velodrome, the tons of lottery money thrown at cycling again coming up trumps, the GB trio, headed by defending Olympic Champion Chris Hoy, winning the three lap pursuit in a new WR. Team GB new that this weekend would be our best chance of bettering our 7 golds in Athens as the rowing and cycling events peaked.
It was gold and WR number six for Phelps. Boring! Outside and the weather closed in again, the canoeing on the rapids was canceled because of heavy rain (??) and the sailing because it was too windy (???) Ben Ainslie and the Yingling girls lead both classes for GB. There's something rather pathetic about Olympic yachting, rippled and taut athletes, some over six feet, becalmed in tiny little boats that you could hire at the local reservoir. If they are lucky they will hit ten miles an hour. How much more fun would it be if they did race in the squalls.
Athletics got under way, Kelly Sothereton sitting comfortably in bronze medal position after day one and four events of the heptathlon. The 100m big three all cruised through in the 100m heats.
* * * Olympic Trivia * * *
It has begun to transpire that all was not what it seemed in the opening ceremony. We had a 'hottie or nottie' moment when we discovered the cute ten-year-old Chinese girl that appeared to sing the Olympic song of peace on Friday night wasn't, the real vocalist hidden behind a screen, she a rather toothy 'nottie. It was all rather cruel but the Chinese don't want to appear ugly to the world and the kid was dumped whilst a pretty one mimed. The spectacular fireworks were also faked, digitally enhanced above the city for TV viewers.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** *
Phelps equals Spitz record with his seventh gold, but only an Olympic record as the American begins to tire, winning by the width of a fag paper. The official Omega timekeepers seem to be in a hurry to give it to Phelps, but the TV replays inconclusive, perhaps the fair thing to do to share the gold.
The GB golden cascade began in earnest in the early hours as Rebecca Adlington became this years Kelly Holmes with her second gold in the pool, and a WR to boot, the oldest WR on the books no less, the women really dominating this games in week one for GB.
Still in the water the rowing finals were underway and an excellent bronze for the double-skulls (two attached oars each) girls of Anna Bebington & Elise Laverick. The boys matched that in the men's double-skulls with Rowbotham and Wells, both pairs from good Middle-England stock! But the day was capped brilliantly with gold in the msn fours, the legacy of Steve Redgrave living on. Some race too.
The cycling boys were now deployed, Chris Newton picking up a surprise bronze in the endurance track sprint race, the first of any color for a Brit in this race in Olympic history. 19-year-old Stephen Burke set up Bradley Wiggins for his gold by wining a brilliant bronze in the bronze play-off final. London 2012 has this kids name written all over it. Wiggins duly wrapped up the gold and defended his Olympic title, the second gold of the velodrome for team GB. Those Lottery millions have really paid off here and it's especially nice for the cyclist as they are the type of people that actually buy lottery tickets. Chris Hoy and Chris Edgar completed an astonishing night in the Kieran with gold and sliver, Hoy unable to defend his kilometer title from Athens and Sydney, so winning this instead, gold number 3. Hoy is now the most successful Scottish Olympian of all-time.
Athletics had its first big night, the 100m always the Blue Ribboned event of the games, and what an extraordinary event it was. Usain Bolt ran the finest ever race in history as he celebrated some ten yards before the tape by incredibly waving to the crowd, but still claiming a WR 9:69. It was the most amazing thing to see and we can only hope it's as clean as John Prescott's plate. My gut feeling is the guy is a freak and 100m runners are about to get taller. The watching on Michael Johnson was flabbergasted and his 200m record is sure to fall now. Kelly Sotherton wasn't quite on her game in the heptathlon and claimed creditable fifth place with a PB score. The two Ukrainian winners had both failed drug tests three years ago and just coming off two year bans. Kelly may still get a bronze like she did three years ago if the Litmus test turns whatever color it needs to for a fail.
* * * Trivia * * *
Spain are in trouble again over a racial stunt, their Olympic basketball team featuring in an advert where their players had an air-brushed 'slit-eye' look painted over their faces. Ironically, the gimmick was organized by Chinese sportswear firm Li Ning, owned by that guy who flew through the air to light the Olympic flame in the greatest PR stunt ever to plug a sports brand in the opening ceremony.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Phelps secured that record with his eighth gold and seventh WR, triumphant at just 23-years of age. This guy could get 30 Olympic gold medals. Incredible! Ainslie and the British Yngling girls sailed their way to a pair of gold's in the unpredictable weather of Beijing Bay. The rowers were not going to let us down either, gold for the guys in the pairs, silver for the women's fours. Team GB were a mind boggling 3rd place in the medal table.
China (29) 51
USA (18) 59
GB (11) 23
Germany (9) 20
Australia (8) 29
As expected Paula Radcliff limped over the line in the marathon, once again a demonstrative show of injury near the end once the medals had gone around the 35k mark. I like Paula but she does irritate sometimes. Ironically Britain's Mary Yamamuchi finished 6th, the highest ever finish for a British girl, she living in Japan with her Japanese husband so acclimatized well.
Rebecca Romero won gold in the women's one kilometer, beating GB team mate Wendy Houghenburger into silver in the all GB final. Romero's story is an impressive one, she the first GB athlete to win medals in two different Olympic sports, a silver winner in the girls four in Athens, the same boat winning silver earlier in the day here. Could her will to win on the bike have made it gold if she was in that boat you wonder? Britain wrapped up an impressive regatta with brilliant silver in the coxed men's eight, Britain's best ever medal hall in the Olympic rowing.
Young Lois Smith took an amazing bronze in the individual gymnastic events, his chosen skill the pommel horse, GBs first male medal in gymnastics for 80 years! He was also GBs first ethnic athlete to medal this games.
Federer, the Williams Sisters and Nadal helped themselves to an Olympic gold, Raffa winning the men's singles, the other three having to settle for the doubles. Again I just don't think tennis should be anywhere near the Olympics and I just can't see the point.
There was a formation finish for the Jamaican girls in the 100m final, completing the double for the Caribbean island. The winning time of 10.76 was very fast for young Shelly-Anne Frazer, the Jamaican Athletics federation drugs policy very successful. They don't have one! But the kids looked genuine and we will see what happens in the next few weeks.
Reigning Olympic 400m hurdles champion Fani Halkia became the first big drugs story as she failed a test and will not defend her crown in Beijing. She fled China like the Dali Lama before she could be booted out. Greece have the most athletes and competitors banned in the lead up to the games at a total of 18, most of those, weightlifters, the entire team banned from the games.
Two posh boys called Glanfield and Rogers won GB their only medal of the day, defending their silver from Athens in the sailing. The big shock on the athletics track was when Liu Zing failed to start the 110m heats for China. The defending Olympic champion and current Marlboro Man of Chinese smoking commercials (don't ask) had a foot problem and just limped back down the tunnel and out. Cynics would say he tested positive and was offered a gentlemanly way out to save Chinas humiliation, others would say the pressure just got too much on his home turf to win, over-training in the run up. Expect his coach to have to commit hari-kari on live TV.
* * * Trivia * * *
With beach windsurfing and beach volleyball back on the roster (the latter for only one reason, of course!) you will be pleased to know they are not the only obscure sports to appear in the Games. In 1900, Paris got to choose one of the events, a tradition in the Olympics for the hosts. They choose 'poodle grooming', of which-as you would expect- they won comfortably.
* * * * * * * * *
The track final highlights were a win for Bekele with an Olympic record in the men's 10,000 meters final for Ethiopia, complementing Tirunesh Dibaba win for Ethiopia in the ladies event the night before. A world record in the ladies pole vault by Isinbeyava of Russia really got the crowd up, the third of the athletics events here so far. Yesterday it was the new event of the women's 3000 steeplechase that got another WR, two events and WRs that have yet to settle down at the big events.
Brimin Kiprop Kipruto for Kenya won the steeplechase for men's, something that country has been doing for a very long time. But, rather surprisingly, the Kenyan girls had never won an Olympic track final, until, that is, little 18-year-old Jelimo won the 800m final. The girl came out of nowhere this year and, as is traditional in Kenyan athletics, will probably head back there as there are so many talented runners in that country pushing to take her place you never see them again. She ran only her first 800 in April and her astonishing time of 1:54.87 hasn't been since the days of the cheating eastern European program. Veteran Maria Mutola, who was competing in her sixth Olympic Games, finished out of the medals in sixth. But she wasn't the oldest vet competing today; 61-year-old Ian Miller of Canada was on his ninth games competing in the show jumping with silver.
The American men avenged the Jamaican double gold in the 100 meters by getting clean sweep in the men's 400m hurdles, an event they have dominated in through their Olympic history, here their seventeenth gold in the race over the years, won by Angelo Taylor, the Sydney 2000 champion.
6,8" David Price from Liverpool in the super-heavyweight boxing and got himself a bronze medal by a bizarre walk-over against the smaller Lithuania. The guy seem to suddenly have a leg injury and trailing 3 points to one against Price refused to start round three. Making the last four is an automatic bronze, the super heavyweight the least contested belt so that achieved after only two fights for Price. To round off the long weekend of GB gold's the men's pursuit four, powered on by Bradley Wiggins, and securing the title with a WR. It was our sixth gold in the velodrome and a record twelfth medal in cycling in the Olympics.
Beth Tweddle, GBs only ever world gymnastic champion, had a couple of chinks in her amour going into the games, that of two bad injuries and the Chinese athletes ahead of her in the final of the asymmetric bars. The judges have had no intention of marking down the home gymnast and so team China cleaned up in the gymnastic shall, Tweddle bumped down to fourth place behind two of them to just miss out on a medal. She was sweetly diplomatic about the marking but she did the toughest routine and was cheated out of at least silver.
It was a golden start for GB, Andy Goodison just needing to finish the race to win the laser class gold, which he did. But he wouldn't be stealing the headlines like he would have in Athens or Sydney as the gold rush continued, Chris Hoy and Katie Pendleton winning double gold in the men's and women's pursuit finals, surely enough to grab the redtop headlines, Hoy getting a record third gold in any single Olympics for any British athlete. But the tabloid feature writers had to hold the back page for the biggest story of the day, Christine Ohurugua winning the 400m sprint with late run on the America. She is now the Olympic, World and Commonwealth Champion at the distance and only denied the clean sweep with the European title because of her controversial ban. Where as Dwaine Chambers had good reason to cheat in the 100m to get anywhere near Usain Bolt my gut feeling is Chrissie is innocent and just pushed her luck by missing the tests. 16 gold's is our greatest Olympic haul in 100 years, and better than that if the truth be told, the 1908 games including all manner off add events that contributed to the United Kingdoms 56 gold's, including tug-of-war and motor boating! Team GB was the only team that entered the tug-of war event then!
GB had their own six-foot-six Jamaican secret weapon, Germaine Mason winning surprise silver in the high-jump with 2: 34. The big man was a ringer if the truth be told but a medal is a medal and we need everyone we can get in the most funded disciplines of the Olympic team. Tony Jeffries, the burger stall attendant at Sunderland's Stadium of Light, joined Irelands Paddy Barnes in the boxing S/Fs, guaranteeing bronze medals.
Shock horror and no gold's for team GB today, but a brilliant second and third in the girls open water 10k marathon, Kerry-Anne Payne and Lucy Pattern just swam down by the aggressive Russian world champion in the last twenty meter's of the two hour swim. The Brit girls complained afterwards that the Russian, tucked in behind them for most of the race, was pulling their leg and ankles to put them off their rhythm. The Russian girl claimed the Brazilian girls had been punching her early on. I like this sport! Its debut in Beijing. There was also bronze in the windsurfing for the girls, Britain's Bryony Shaw bagging bronze. The first real disappointment of the games for Team GB since hot favorite Frankie Gavin was pulled from the boxing came when Nick Dempsey failed to medal in the men's windsurf event, meaning he has lost a bet with his gold medal winning fiancé in the Yngling boat, which means he will have to take her maiden name at the wedding, soon to be Nick Aylett. This was team GBs 36th medal, surpassing the BOC`s target of 35 with still four days to go. The bar has just been lifted for 2012. Boxer James De Gale raised it another two inches with a guaranteed 36 bronze.
The athletics evening promised to be spectacular and it was, Usain Bolt breaking Michael Johnson 200m WR by a hundredth of a second, this time running through the line to make his mark in history. You have to go back to Don Quarry in 1977 to find a guy who has held both 100 and 200 meter records - but neither of those was at the Olympics or for double gold. This guy is sensational! Natasha Danvers-Smith picked up the UK`s third medal of the track with a brilliant bronze in the women's 400m final.
We woke up to yet another gold, Percy and Simpson securing glory in the sailing star class. David Davies earnt the toughest medal of the games for team GB in the 10k swimming with a grueling race, again the elbows flying as a bald Dutch guy edged Davies out after his radar went astray in the last 400m through delirium. The winner, like that guy who won the Tour de France seven times in a row, also beat cancer at the turn of the century. Davies, the Athens Olympic 1500 bronze medalists, on the hand, has a fish phobia!
Potential 2012 medalist was Judy Crouch in the diving, finishing an impressive sixth in the ladies final. Whilst the bias crowd was cheering China to their seventh gold out of seven finals for diving she held her nerve and performed brilliant. On our turf things will be different. She is, of course, the girl little Tom Daley hangs out with and harbors bit of a crush on. I don't blame him as that girl fills a swim suit!
On the track and there was silver for Phillips Idowu with his seasons best in the triple-jump. Some people said he should have got gold as the favorite but 9 cm's split the medals so you have to say the boy did well. It wasn't so clever for the men's 100 team, who were one of 11 teams in the men's and women's semi-finals who messed up the baton change in the semis, and so disqualified. But the Americans also dropped the baton so it wasn't so bad. We weren't good enough to defend our title and as Chambers was on that team do we really want to. Justice was done.
The highlight of the night was when Shawn DeMerrit ran down hot favorite Jeremy Wariner to win the 400 flat. This was their first sprint gold of the games and a sign that the BALCO scandal has really fed through to team US results.
Tim Brabant's got the day off to a cracking start with gold number18, leading the men's kayaking race from start to finish. The boats are like the ones you would see that Mohicans rowing in Hollywood movies and it was impressive stuff from Brabs. The Dutch girl won the hockey, but, alas, they didn't invite me to be towel boy in the showers. They are some fine athletic looking women!
Shanice Read failed to win her expected gold in the BMX, crashing out in the final few turns going for the top spot. She has dominated the sport for the last three years and if that's how she has done it then fair play to her. On day of the minority sports it was great to see young Aaron Cook go through to the quarter-finals in Twia Kwondo in impressive style, narrowly failing to make medal match after a bum decision against a Chinese fighter.
Boxer James Degale was the only one of the three British to make the gold medal final Tony Egan of Ireland took the gold fight by defeating Tony Jeffries. David Price also settled for bronze after been given the run-around by the Cubans. Paddy Barnes and John Sutherland for Ireland also settled for bronze. As the semi-finals were decided a big story was breaking that maybe the fix was in and one or two of the judges had been 'got at' and accepted money to score fights illegally. This part of the world is the betting capital of the globe and this doesn't surprise me, the two Chinese nationals slaughtered in the U.K recently believed to be involved in a similar sporting betting scam.
The athletics again produced the big news story, Usain Bolt sealing the 4x100m gold and a new WR of 37:10 seconds .The Jamaican girls couldn't match the boy's feat, dropping the baton like the British girls did in the final, Russia earning a sneaky gold. On the track there was superb silver for the women's pentathlon in the final event, the track 3k, Heather Fell earning second place with a determined run. This is the toughest all-round event for girls and could you ride a horse, swim, shoot and run and fence in the same day?
The medals are beginning to trickle out for team GB as Russian swept past us with 19 gold's, just a bronze for Tim Brabant's in the 500m canoeing in the morning. There was two excellent fifths for team GB in the men's hockey and mountain biking, the later seeing the young British rider Liam Killeen fall early and recover 41 places. If he hadn't had fallen he may have medaled. The excitement was in the Taekwondo arena where bias refereeing awarded the quarter-final to the Chinese girl, even though our girl clearly hit her in the face for the winning kick. It was obvious one or two judges were bias to favor the twice Olympic champion going for a record third gold and TV replays and a big dispute saw the match result over-turned, our girl Sarah Stevenson given the bout. This sport really needs video replays. Not surprisingly the Chinese fans were booing us and cheering the Mexican opponent, a watching on Jacky Chan, who helped to fund Stevenson when she sent him a nice letter, soon switching allegiances to the baying crowds to drive the Maria Espinoza to victory. Stevenson brushed her self down and brilliantly won the bronze in the medal match. Matsu of Cuba went one further with his aggravation at the judges when he was defaulted after along injury break during his medal fight, jumping up and kicking the referee in the head on live TV, before throwing one of the blazers over the table. A life ban from the sport quickly followed on what had been an extraordinary day in the hall.
There was a first Afghanistan medal of the games in the same hall, taekwondo a bit of national sport there with over 700 clubs. You can only hope the trigger-happy American military don't mistake lines of Afghanis doing high licks in their white uniforms as terrorist training camps! Iran also won gold on the day in the event, a country where the USAF would have no problems in bombing anything accidentally.
Rain at the beach volley ball meant the girls bikinis got wet (as did half of Brighton watching in England) ,whilst Argentina won the football, which we all know is called handball in Buenos Aires, a grinning Maradona watching in on at the Workers Stadium.
But the end of the day bought yet another gold (as it was ,the final one) for GB, Jimmy Degale winning his final in the boxing ring at middleweight, beating a classy Cuban no less, team GB in the ring delivering their three medals as promised and surprisingly our fourth only boxing Olympic gold.
The athletics team, alas, didn't deliver on their quota, two fourths and a fifth on the final day, Lisa Debriskis brave attempt to defend Kelly Holmes gold in the women's 1500m the highlight of those 4ths, the other being the men's team in the 400 relay, America beating the Jamaicans for the gold with an Olympic record.
-The Final Medal Table-
G S B
1 China (CHN) 51 21 28 (100)
2 United States (USA) 36 38 36 (110)
3 Russia (RUS) 23 21 28 (72)
4 Great Britain (GBR) 19 13 15 (47)
5 Germany (GER) 16 10 15 (41)
6 Australia (AUS) 14 15 17 46
7 South Korea (KOR) 13 10 8 (31)
8 Japan (JPN) 9 6 10 (25)
9 Italy (ITA) 8 10 10 (28)
10 France (FRA) 7 16 17 (40)
-The Top Funding per medal-
Total lottery and UK Sport funding is £235 million...
Athletics £26 million (4)
Rowing £26 million (6)
Cycling £26 million (14)
Sailing £22 million (6)
Canoeing £13 million (3)
To put GBs success into perspective we won just one gold in Atlanta in 96, Steve Redgrave for rowing, of course, in what was an equally sterile commercial Olympics as Beijing. We have trebled our gold tally from Athens and more in China and we could now nudge 25 gold's in London with the talent we have. Country to public perception, 'podium potential' only receive between £11,965 to £23,930 funding a year from the Lottery, up to the maximum income threshold of £56,220 to those who cant support themselves, which isn't anywhere near what I understood it to be. Yes they do get full coaching and medical support, but they have to train all day and so a part-time job is all they can do if they want to win gold. But what you don't hear anymore in the commentaries is what these kids do for jobs, most full-time athletes now, only the Kayak guy named as a part-time doctor.
-The gold rush-
I think one of the reasons why we got so many gold's was because we nailed one early on with Nicole Cook in the cycling ,taking the pressure of the camp and other potential medalists. Everyone from these isles feared high heat, humidity and the smog ,yet the first few days, and for a lot of the games, it was wet and cloudy, blowing away the smog and setting up the northern hemisphere athletes more. Nicole battled through the wind and rain and nicked the gold from a race that could have been very capricious in these conditions. It would be cycling that would go an and win the biggest hauls of gold.
-The Closing Ceremony-
Another spectacular closed the proceedings as the official Olympic flag was handed over to the bungling Boris Johnson, the Olympic flame safely extinguished just in time so he couldn't set fire to the traditional flag. An embarrassing 15 minute skit by London 2012 in the stadium involved the fat knees of Leona Lewis and the even fatter fingers of the now ancient Jimmy Page doing a cringing version of a Whole Lotta Love, before the modern dance performance by the Chicken Shed Theater did a representative piece of the East London venue, on the same day in the real East London another couple of teenagers killed in Walthamstow to celebrate the handover. David Beckham got the biggest cheer of the day in the Stadium as he stood atop a red bus and aimlessly kicked a football into the crowd, carrying on from his performance from last Wednesday night at Wembley against the Czechs! Over to you Boris!