Date: August 8- 24, 2008
Prologue: Every four years, people catch gold fever, and this would be no different of a time. The greatest from all over the world would converge by a place once forbidden. In the end though, one nation, and two very special men proved to be the most golden of them all.
The Chinese had high hopes heading into the 29th Olympiad. Not only did they want to wow the world, but they wanted to show just how great China was. They had set a goal to reach the top of the medal standings, which seemed lofty at the time. After all, China had not been a major sports power before, how could they possibly earn more medals than the usual favourites such as Russia, Australia, and the United States?
Somehow, someway though, the Chinese did it. In the years preceding the games, the Chinese continued to send their best and brightest to the world championships, and before anyone knew it they were the favourites in such events as weight lifting and diving, something that was previously unimagined.
To the astonishment of the world, China finished with a staggering 51 Gold Medals, 15 more than the second place Americans.
As amazing as that was though, there were two men who really stole the show from the host nation, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.
In the 2004 Olympics, Michael Phelps won an unbelievable 6 Gold and 2 Bronze Medals. However, his sights were set even higher this time. He wanted to break Mark Spitz's record of 7 Gold Medals in one game. To do this he needed to win 17 races in a mere 9 days.
Not only did he do this, but he did it in a truly unbelievable fashion. In winning his eight gold medals, he set seven world records.
Not to be outdone was Jamaican Sprinter Usain Bolt. A longtime 200m sprinter, Bolt decided to add the 100m sprint to his repertoire in July 2007. In a very short amount of time, Bolt was able to set a world record of 9.72 seconds at the world championships.
He entered Beijing to compete in both the 100m and 200m sprints. He was the favourite to win them both, but nobody had any idea he would be quite this good.
If you blinked you would have missed the 100m race, as he shattered his own record with a blistering 9.69s. To make things even more amazing, he slowed down at the end of the race to look in both directions and he started to celebrate prematurely. If that was not enough, his left shoe was untied. That's right, Bolt was able to slow down at the end of a race, with only one shoe firmly tied, and he was still able to be the fastest man ever. Some scientists have calculated that he could have made that run in 9.55s, which is staggering to say the least.
In the 200m, Bolt kept focused for the entire race, and was able to break Michael Johnson's 12 year world record, with a time of 19.30s. He also had a 0.9m/s headwind slowing him down.
Almost as an afterthought, Bolt was a part of the Jamaican 4x100m relay team that won the gold medal, and set another world record.
In looking back on the Beijing Olympics, it is hard to say who the real star is. Is it Michael Phelps and his 8 Gold Medals? Is it Usain Bolt and his super human speed? Or is it China, and their iron will to impress?
I suppose that the debate will rage on for a while, but what's not to be debated is that the real winners are all of us who got to watch these simply unbeliavable feats commited by unbelievable people.
Epilogue: With the 2012 Olympics scheduled to in London, one can imagine that the Chinese are going to try once more to top their past glory, and truley cement themselves as world sporting powers.
Phelps and Bolt are a mere 23 and 22 respectively, so expect to here more of them in the future. Neither has announced if they will participate in the next Olympics, but we will have to wait until London calls...
Achieved Year in Review Posts:
The Fall of the Prophet - January 6th
The Rise of the Ice Queen -January 7th
An Unlikely Fruition - January 7th
Attack of the Three-Headed Terror - January 9th
A Most Sincere Inquiry - January 10th
The Golden League - January 14th
The Fall from Grace - January 16th
The Eighth Layer of Injustice - January 16th
The Transmuter of Nations - January 22nd