Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
Another Olympics over
The Beijing Olympics
Member Name: juleshobs
The Beijing Olympics
Advantages: GB where actually on the 1st page of the medal table
Disadvantages: Did not pass wihout incident
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.
Summary: A good display by China to the rest of the world.
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