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Beijing Olympics A Tremendous Success

April, 2009
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Venues, check. Clear, blue skies, check. The whole world’s eye on Beijing, check. China proved itself to be well organized and efficient as these “boxes” were ticked off way before the Olympics were due to begin.

Approximately 4 billion people tuned in to watch history in the making as the clock struck 8 pm, on the 8th of August 2008. China made its  grand entrance to the world as the 29th modern Olympics Games began with a spectacular ceremony showcasing the best of China’s five-thousand-year history, blending traditional and modern elements of China.

The 16-day games were marked by a record number of world records and Olympic records that were shattered. 302 gold medals were up for grabs as 10,500 athletes from 204 countries gave the best performances seen in Olympic history. Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt became the two heroes of these games, as Phelps became the greatest Olympian of all time, winning 8 gold medals, which adds up to a total of 14 career gold medals. Bolt also electrified the Bird’s Nest Stadium when he snatched three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and men’s 4 x 100m relay.

  IMG_6172 I was in San Francisco when Michael Phelps won his seventh gold medal by 0.01 seconds. Believing that he had no chance to get the gold medal after he was seventh at the 50m turn, I nearly fell off my seat as Cavic and Phelps fought to the finish line. That race will definitely be remembered as one of the most intense and exciting in swimming history.

Gymnastics, one of my favorite sports to watch, was very popular. The Chinese gymnastics team made China proud as both its men’s and women’s team won the gold medals. Nastia Liuken and Shawn Johnson made the United States equally proud as they tumbled and spun their way to gold and silver medals, respectively.

Even though these events dominated world news, other controversial events also made headlines.

“I heard about the controversy over the computer-simulated fireworks and the little girl lip synching,” said Valerie Usov, a Year 11 student, “but I think those things are insignificant, and some people make too much of a big deal out of it.”IMG_6403

Shanghai had its own share of Olympic fever when a few soccer events were held in the Shanghai Stadium.

"Though I did not get to go to Beijing, watching an event in Shanghai was pretty fun too,” said Gabriella Radar, a 14-year-old student who attended one of the soccer games in Shanghai. Despite amazing feats from the world’s best athletes, one of the fondest memories from these Olympics is not the sporting events, but the journey of the Olympic flame. Throughout modern history, the flame has been ignited through various ways from shooting a burning arrow in the 1992 Barcelona Games to lightning a ring of fire in the 2000 Sydney Games. Beijing proved to be equally, if not more, creative as three-time gold medalist Li Ning stunned the world by “running” in air, while pictures of the 21,880 torchbearers flashed behind on a giant screen.

"When I started watching the opening ceremony, I was wondering how the cauldron would be lit up if it was suspended so high up in the sky,” said Atta Lee, a Year 11 student who watched the ceremony from Hong Kong, “I was completely blown away by the way the cauldron was lit, it was amazing.”

Covering 137,000 kilometers over 6 continents, the torch run took 130 days to complete. Though its path to Beijing was twisted by anti-China protestors attempting to mix sports with politics and by the saddening IMG_6296earthquake in Sichuan on May 12th, the Olympic spirit, which the flame represented, persevered.

The journey of the flame is one I hold very close to my heart. It was an honor to represent my country and the younger generation of the world when I carried the torch in Jiao Tong University on May 24th. Liu Qi, the head of the Olympics Committee, sums up my feelings as I witnessed the flame being extinguished during the closing ceremony. “The Olympic flame atop the National Stadium will soon be extinguished, and yet the Chinese people’s enthusiasm in embracing the world will be ablaze forever.”

Though so much attention has been placed on these summer games, it is important not to forget its sisters: the Paralympics, Special Olympics and the Winter Olympics. 

Shanghai held the Special Olympics last October and besides being a great success, it showed people around the world the determination of those that participated. This raw strength and courage was also displayed at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics as wheelchair-bound Hou Bin pulled himself up to the cauldron to light the Paralympic flame.

Beijing has been extremely successful at putting together one of the best Olympics and Paralympics in history. The next time the Olympics return to China, one can only guess that it will be Shanghai with the winning bid. But for now, our eyes have shifted to London as it grabs the reins and promises a fabulous 2012 Olympics knowing that Beijing has given them a tough act to follow.

By Natasha Weaser

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