Even as the Beijing 2008 Olympics came to an end, there's no doubt in my mind that it meant many things for many people around the world.
For people who keenly follow geo-politics, it was no less than a Chinese "statement" announcing it's grand arrival on world stage with a bang. No where was that statement more underlined than at the opening ceremony of these Olympics. There was an unmistakable machismo associated with that sensational exhibitionism and show of grandiose on Day 1.
2000 young Chinese men shouting out their lungs and beating drums marked the ARRIVAL of China on world stage, like never before.
It was never in doubt that China was going to use these Olympic games as a showpiece event. And China spent a whopping 43 billion USD to do what they finally did. (The London Olympics budget is 1/3rd of this even 4 years from now). Just shows how much these games meant for the 1.3 billion people of China. The People's Republic did not let it's people down. Brand China came out as the ultimate winner of these games.
If the opening and closing show was spectacular, the Medal tally of Team China was nothing less than a miracle. 51 golds, 21 silver and 28 bronze medals, a whooping 100 overall medals left little doubt in the sporting world, who was the next ogre. China finished in style.
It picked up about half it's golds only from 3 events - Gymnastics, Diving and Weight Lifting. Tells you of their incredible strike rate. It was a well planned effort. They focussed on events that would have highest returns.
If China's medal tally was story 1, story 2 would have to be Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. If the Jamaican thunder bolt, made a mess of all records in athletics, Michael Phelps made a mockery of all previous swimming records. When Phelps left Beijing, he had broken 7 world records out of the potentially 8 he could have. Usain Bolt on the other hand was part of 3 record breaking efforts. These two are super humans. Phelps with 8 golds had more than 20% of total US gold medals.
Great Britain put a neat overall performance and came close 4th only behind Russia in medal tally. Coming ahead of teams like Germany and France would be specially sweet for the Brits.
Another story for me was the silver medal win by Afghanistan. Rohullah Nikpai's of this war torn country won it's country's first ever medal in Taekwondo . Truly a great hero.
I had a lump in my throat when Abhinav Bindra stood on the podium and India's national anthem was played. But Vijendra and Sushil Kumar's win were no less sweet for 1 billion Indians.
In the end, Olympics is about breaking new barriers of human endurance. Both mental and physical. How long, how high, how deep can you push the human envelope. At what point, would it break? If 9.69 seconds in 100 meters is not good enough, what is? Are we going to see some one break that record soon? May be Bolt himself.
Just as Bolt completed his 100 meters race, a thought struck in my mind. What if half of the humanity became half as fit as Bolt - wouldn't we solve the world energy crisis :) ? Think.
I would also like to mention that one of the reasons I got hooked to this years Olympics is a well packaged presentation by NBC. The other day I read a report in Hindustan Times, about how India's Doordarshan had messed up it's Olympics telecast big time. A cousin, in India, I spoke to told me the same. He said no one was really following Olympics there.
Luckily NBC is pretty professional and if I was from Chinese government, I would send across special thanks to NBC for being agents of these games promotion for the North American audience. Not only did NBC focus on sports, it took us to various facets of Chines culture. It was truly fascinating.
I am going to the Gym now. Hope this Olympic fever does not fade out soon. I will be resting my bums on the couch a little less.