Monday, August 4, 2008

The World Descends On Beijing

After a quick break in the UK, The Daily Hurt returns today. This is predominantly an NBA blog site, but during the season's summer break, we're going to have a look at a few other stories in the world of sport.
  • This Summer's biggest event kicks off on Friday night when Beijing hosts the Olympic Games. This will be an historic event as the eyes of the world will finally get a glimpse of what goes on behind closed doors in the strictly controlled communist state. The build up to these games has attracted more controversy than any games previously due to some of China's political issues, but that aside, the games themselves should be as exciting as ever. Football's World Cup is still considered as the biggest individual spectacle in the world, but the Olympic Games has the ability to unite the world more than any other sporting event.
  • As always, there will be athletes who will be caught cheating by way of using drugs at some stage and stripped of their achievement and/or medal. For so many athletes, the Olympics represents the pinnacle of their sporting careers and their lives and these games might be the only shot they get at global recognition for a lifetime of sacrifice and commitment and they will therefore stop at nothing to try to win a Gold medal.
  • The Olympic Games is so good for seeing athletes and sports that don't get the same TV and newspaper coverage as other higher profile sports. Some of the best sportsmen and women in the world don't play in sports that receive millions and millions of dollars in sponsorship and TV revenue, so it's great for them to finally get the exposure and a chance to show how talented they are. Don't get me wrong, many of the athletes competing in Beijing still make a fortune out of their sport and live a life that normal 9-5 workers can only dream of, but few outside of the basketball world earn Kobe Bryant type money.
  • Basketball aside, it's events like Swimming and Cycling, Rowing, as well as Gymnastics and even Weightlifting that this blogger particularly enjoys. There should be no place in the Olympics for Beach Volleyball or Tennis. As mentioned earlier, football already has the World Cup so there is no need for it to have a competition during the Olympics.
  • The track and field events are always great to watch and really symbolize what the Olympic Games is all about. Events like the discuss and shotput almost seem out of date now, but they represent the games in their purest form.
  • There is always one or two images from each games that really stand out and last forever. Not always for the right reason, but something always happens and sports fans recall and remember a moment or incident fondly. In my time, it's been Carl Lewis winning 4 Gold Medals in LA in '84, then I didn't think there could be a bigger moment in the Seoul games of '88 when Ben Johnson won the race of the century, but the news headline the next day when he was caught doping was simply this day, it still seems shocking. In '92 it was Barcelona and the USA gave us the first installment of the 'Dream Team'. It was made up of the most awesome players in the world and it's unlikely that the USA or any country will ever field a team as strong as that one. For '96(Atlanta) see the next bullet below, Cathy Freeman's inspired 200m in front of her home fans in Sydney in 2000 was great to see and then Kelly Holmes double in the 800m and 1500m in Athens was a fairytale for the 34 year from Great Britain. There has of course been many, many other achievements just as special as these, but they are some that have stuck out in my memory.
  • The Atlanta games of '96 I recall well as they were purchased by Atlanta's bid committee after it looked like Melbourne were poised to win them. Former IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch always enjoyed being pampered as if he was one of the athlete's competing and in return, he looked favorably upon those cities who would spoon feed him and pander to his every (costly) whim. If he was still in charge today, he would probably put the games on Ebay rather than have countries and cities actually go through all that bother of submitting an application.

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