Monday, 25 August 2008

Beijing 2008 Olympics - My Favourite Memories

As the cauldron of the 2008 Beijing Olympics grew dimmer and dimmer yesterday, the sporting world will remember Beijing for not only staging the most expensive Olympics ever, but also for the many athletes that make sports such an interesting event to watch.

For me, I will remember the 2008 Beijing Olympics for these personalities and moments (in no particular order):

A Husband's Undying Love
Matthias Steiner of Germany who won gold in the men's weightlifting +105 kg Group A, dedicated his gold to his late wife Susann who died in a car crash in 2007. Matthias had promised her the gold medal as she lay dying in the hospital.

This is my favourite report of Matthias on the medal podium that appeared in Xinhua: "On the medal podium, Matthias clutched a snapshot of Susann as he choked, "She's always with me, in the hours before the competition. She's there..." On the picture, Susann beamed, while on the audience stands, many wept."

Triumph in the Face of Adversity

These two athletes are my favourites in how they overcame odds to emerge champions in their own right.

Natalie Du Toit of South Africa lost her left leg in a motorcycle accident in 2001. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics she competed with able-bodied athletes in the 10km women's swimming marathon and ranked 16th. Natalie also competed in the Paralympics.

Maarten van der Weljden of the Netherlands was diagnosed with leukemia seven years ago. He overcame the disease and won the men's 10km swimming marathon.

Van der Meijden said that his past disease has taught him well in swimming, "It taught me to think step by step and to be patient. When you are in so much pain and lying in a hospital bed, you aren't thinking about the next month, but the next hour. This is the same strategy I used here -- staying in the pack and waiting for my chance." - Source Xinhua

What an inspiring story of the triumph of the human spirit.

End of the Innocence

Yang Peiyi (left) has the voice of an angel but was deemed not pretty enough to appear in the opening ceremony. Instead she was replaced by the prettier Lin Miaoke (right) who mimed Peiyi's melodious voice.

When Peiyi grows up, she will realise that this is a world where the beautiful are treated like gods while the not so beautiful are forgotten and disregarded. Thank you to those responsible for damaging the self esteem of an innocent child.

Utter Stupidity
Angel Valodia Matos from Cuba kicked referee Chakir Chelbat from Sweden in the head for declaring him a loser in a bronze medal match in the men's taekwondo +80kg class. As a result, Angel and his coach were banned for life by the World Taekwondo Federation.

I remember my taekwondo teacher telling us that we should never use our martial arts skills for bad things, and this joker Angel is showing the world exactly the opposite of how a martial arts exponent should behave. How stupid can one get!

Age is Just a Number
Dara Torres, at the age of 41, kicked arse in the pool, beating swimmers almost half her age. Although she did not win any gold, her silver medal in the women's 50m free style is proof that age is just a number.

Usain Bolt's Winning Antics
Some people might say that Usain Bolt of Jamaica is arrogant for his winning antics and gestures before reaching the finishing line.

IOC President, Jacques Rogge critised Bolt for not showing respect for his fellow contestants, but was critised in return by many for doing so. Who's to tell Bolt, who created history by breaking records in the men's 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay what to do.

By the way, Bolt is also a sprinter with a generous heart - he made a personal donation of US50,000 to the children affected by the Sichuan earthquake.

Most Memorable Picture
This is my favourite picture of Michael Phelps looking up at his mother Debbie after receiving his medal. That is the look of love a mother has for her son, the greatest Olympian ever.

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