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The Beijing Olympics
Member Name: mummy2harry
The Beijing Olympics
Advantages: World records smashed to pieces, the sheer talent of the Athletes, 19 Golds for GB!
Disadvantages: Drug cheats, we didn't perform that well in Athletics
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!
Summary: An amazing Olympics
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