Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Beijing Olympics 2008: Re-cap

The Beijing Olympics 2008 has officially ended last August 24, 2008 (Sunday night) with a final ceremony where the Olympic flag was brought down from its flag pole, folded up by the Chinese and handed over to the Mayor of London by the Mayor of Beijing. Yes, in four years, it will be London's turn to host this event. A warm up of what to expect in London is shown by a short film clip of London city, of its famous red double decker bus, of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page performing on said red bus and British soccer celebrity star David Beckham kicking a soccer ball off it (and into the hands of a very lucky Chinese performer).

The Olympic Flame on top of Beijing's "Bird Nest" has been estinguished after 2 weeks of being lit. There were still some fireworks display on site ( I especially liked the fireworks that turned into the five Olympic rings) but they weren't as grand as the ones shown at the Opening Ceremony. The Olympics has ended. And it is now back to our regular TV programs.

During that time, I was able to watch a lot of events. Here are some of the highlights of what I saw:

Football: As mentioned in my previous entry, I definitely wanted to watch the Bronze and Gold Matches. The Bronze match was between Brazil and Belgium where Brazil was able to score and get the medal. It somewhat redeemed itself from the huge loss it suffered from Argentina two days ago but Gold prize is still far from its grasp.

For the Gold Match, they moved the venue to Beijing instead of Shanghai, where all other football matches were held. Nigeria was pretty strong and defensive but Argentina was stronger in that it was able to score a point during the second half of the game and get the gold. A back to back Gold Medal for these Champions!

Basketball: I first watched this game when USA went against China to see how Yao Ming would fare against the Dream Team. He was pretty good but with USA's five great players, it just wasn't good enough to get a lead on USA. It was clear from the start of this tournament that USA is after the Gold Medal. This Dream Team were being called The Redeem Team by others, as they try to get back the gold they lost four years ago. And get it they did by first defeating Argentina in the semi-finals, then taking out Spain at the finals. The Gold Medal match was closer than I had expected as there were instances in the 4th Quarter of the game where Spain was just trailing behind by 2 points. But then USA brought in Kobe Bryant and the small gap widened to more than 10 points. Still, this is better than the average 30 point difference that USA commanded over the other countries during this tournament. Spain and Argentina deserved their medals as they showed how strong their teams were and they won't back down from a challenge by the USA, no matter how strong the USA is.

Tennis: I failed to see Nadal's claim to Gold but was able to catch the Women's singles finals. What first caught my attention to this match was when USA's Venus Williams was surprisingly defeated by China's Li Na in just two sets of the game. Could China possibly get an Olympic Gold?

Li Na's next opponent was Russia's Dinara Safina, who in her own Quarterfinals match, outperformed as well as she defeated world number one Jelena Jankovic! Safina was able to win against China's Li Na and let down China's hope for a Gold Medal. Li Na lost to another Russian for the Bronze Prize while Safina lost to Russia's Elena Dementieva to claim a Silver Medal.

Still, Safina will be part of Russian history as Russia got the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals for the Women's Tennis Singles.

4x100 meter relay: Saw only first round of this for both the men and women's category. Jamaica looked to be pretty strong for this race. USA had a run of bad luck as in the men's race, the baton was dropped on handing it to runner Tyson Gay. This automatically disqualified them. The women experienced the same thing when the baton was also dropped while turning it over to the next runner. Bad Juju perhaps? Jamaica eventually won the 4x100 meter men's relay. No idea for the women's but probably Jamaica bagged the gold too.

Marathon: This was in the TV schedule but for some reason, it wasn't shown. I was lucky enough to watch the Women's Marathon repeat coverage that same night but didn't see the Men's 42k run the following Sunday (live or repeat). Too bad as was excited to see this. No idea how Ryan Hall did here but he didn't make it for the top 3 ranks in the race. Kenya took the coveted Gold medal.

On the women's run, it was an unexpected finish as Romania's Constantina Tomescu took the first place after leaving the pack and just kept on running at a very fast speed. Quite impressed with her performance given her age of 38 years old and the competition she had against her (a lot of the runners were in their 20s). USA hopeful medalist Deena Kastor pulled out early in the run due to leg injury. England's favorite runner Paula Radcliffe was with the race pack nearly throughout the race but had to slow down later on in the race. She finished 23rd in this.

Triathlon: Definitely my favorite event in the whole Olympics given the hard thing each athlete had to do: swim 1.5km, bike 40km, run 10km (in four 2.5km loops)! There were a lot of things that happened here most unfortunate of all was the 6-7 bike crashes early in the race, and had a lot of competitors leaving the race due to injuries. Switching from bike to running shoes were also important and determined who would lead the pack and who would suddenly get left behind. The most controverial of all was when there was a food cart right in the middle of the running track! Unable to go around it, Australian frontrunner Snowsill had no choice but jump over the wall to continue her running. What the hell? Apparently it was around lunch time when it happened and Chinese staffs still uncustomed to the importance of the Olympics dragged the food cart in the middle of the course to give off lunch boxes to the marshals! Unbelievable!

Good thing Snowsill knew what to do or she would have lost the lead she had over the other runners. In the end, Australia was the clear winner for this event as it took home the Gold and the Bronze (and two Emmas at that).

Athletics: Didn't even know this is what they are calling it these days instead of track and field. Aside from the 4x100 relays, saw 100 meter runs, 1,500 meter runs, pole vaults, long jumps, high jumps and 5,000 meter run. Quite impressed with Miankova of Belarus new Olympic record for her hammer throw. They will need a new marker for 2012 London Olympics for the 80 meters as her throw went to a distance of 76.34 meters. Of course, everyone's favorite Jamaican with his golden Puma shoes, Usain Bolt made new world records in the 100m, 200m, and as part of the 4x100m relay. In the qualifying matches for the 100m, he was turning his head to look at how far he was vs his competitors and that was for the 10 second run! Unbelievable! Doesn't even look tired every time he makes a new world record. And speaking of unbelievable...

Swimming: MP all the way. Michael Phelps that is. 8 Gold Medals in his 8 events here. With 8 Gold ones, he set a new record for any one person in one Olympics. Not only that but 7 of his events breached new world records. A total of 14 medals in his very young life. Another new record as well. He has already expressed interest in joining the 2012 Olympics after being interviewed so don't think anyone can beat him in my lifetime.

As Olympics go there were some achievements and some disappointments. Most notably of all was that of China favorite Liu Xiang when he pulled out of the hurdles event at the first round due to leg injury. A lot of Chinese who travelled to Beijing went to watch this sole event and a lot were shocked when he abruptly left the stadium and went back inside his locker room. It was a sad day for China as a lot were in tears for their favorite son. Hopefully, they won't lose hope in him and he will be able to compete in the next Olympics.

The Olympics is at an end after a busy two weeks so till the next one, it's back to watching Powerpuff Girls for me. Haha!


sfrunner said...

Hi Dennis. Ryan Hall was 10th in the Men's Marathon. His time was 2:12:33. I've listed the top ten times on my blog. Thanks and take care.

Running Fatboy said...

hi sfrunner, Thanks for this update.