Monday, August 25, 2008

Farewell Beijing, Hello London

So that's it. Beijing bids adieu to the world. When everyone wakes from a fantastic 16 days in China and rubs their eyes, the focus of the next Summer Olympic Games will be on London. In between, there is the Winter version of the games being held in Vancouver in 2010.

Beijing and China put on an impressive show for all the world to see. As always, there will be some memorable, magical moments that will be remembered for a long, long time.

Michael Phelps' 8 gold medals is a record that I doubt will ever be beaten. It was a remarkable feat. He was the story of the games.

Yet, as good as Phelps was in the pool, Usain Bolt's performance on the running track gave this blogger the games greatest individual moments. Three events, three gold's and three WR's to boot. But it wasn't just what he achieved, it was how he did it all.
  • To start with, in the 100m, when he had time to do cartwheel's before crossing the line, it could have been perceived to be a show of arrogance by him, but it wasn't. He was just that much better than the rest of the field. And he wasn't running against donkey's either, Usain was just in a class of his own.

  • For the 200, like a true showman, he had the world salivating with expectation, waiting to see what he was going to do. And the hardest thing in sport to do, is to live UP to expectation, but Bolt did just that. Everyone knew that nobody else could possibly win the race, it was just a matter of how much Bolt was going to shave off the old record.

  • Just for good measure, Usain combined with his Jamaican countrymen to add a new WR in collecting his third gold in the 4X100. Running third, Bolt's momentum carried him so far that he actually crossed the finish line before the Dutch team had even finished. Bolt lit up the track at these games and he is a Superstar.

The USA is back as the world's best basketball nation. This 2008 'redemption team' did what they had to do by winning the gold medal and went through the tournament undefeated, but the days of the original 'Dream Team' are unlikely to return. Basketball is getting stronger and stronger around the world and China especially are the nation that is most likely to develop and improve over the next 20 years or so.

So, the world now waits to see what London has to offer. It will be a tough ask for them to able to produce an Olympic Games that comes close to Beijing's. Notoriously bad at planning and organizing things (see Wembley Stadium, or 2006 World Cup bid) the biggest challenge that London's Olympic committee faces, is to avoid the political infighting and bickering that is so often the problem with them.

On top of that, the British government has a tendency to spend far too much money on these things (Wembley was upwards of 700million quid and two years late!). They have set a budget of about 9.3 billion pounds already, which is already almost three times the original 3.4b set back in 2005 when London was announced as host of the games. So, they were only 6b off their original estimate then, one wonders how much the final bill will be.

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