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Looking Back: The Best and Worst of the 2008 Beijing Olympics

It's now been a week since the Olympics closed up shop, and while we're still getting used to life after the Games, we've decided to ease our post-Olympic blues by taking a cue from the [BBC](http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/olympics/2008/08/bbc_reporters_pick_out_their_o.html) and reliving some of the best, worst and weirdest moments from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. # **BEST:** - THE OPENING CEREMONIES: We don't care that the cute tone-deaf girl got to be on TV instead of ugly talented one _or_ that the fireworks were digitally embellished _or_ that those minority children carrying the Chinese flag weren't really from ethnic minority groups. Zhang Yimou put on a spectacular show that is virtually unrivaled in scope, scale and originality. Period. - LINE 10: Nothing made going to the Olympics more enjoyable than riding a clean, bright and well air-conditioned subway line complete with flat-screen monitors that ensured we didn't miss a minute of Olympic action. Also, special thanks to Tuanjiehu Station for giving us a direct line between the Olympic Park and Sanlitun Bar Street. - "JIA YOU!": Before the Olympics, we never realized just how versatile oil was. Just by adding it, you can cheer on your favorite team, offer condolences to a discouraged athlete and rally an entire nation. And here we thought it was just for ruining the environment and starting wars… # **WORST:** - LIU XIANG LETDOWN: It was the tendon tear heard around the world, or at least [across the Bird’s Nest]( http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/articles/blogs-beijing/beijing-olympics/liu-xiang-injured-16-billion-hearts-shattered/). The Chinese golden boy’s sudden withdrawal from the 110m hurdles robbed fans of the much-anticipated Liu-Robles showdown and denied China its moment in the track and field sun. - OLYMPIC DRIVING LANES: Sure, there are half as many cars on the road, but if they’re using half as many lanes, does it really make a difference? - STARVING FOR THE OLYMPICS: With just two McDonald’s restaurants at either end of the sprawling Olympic Park and other vendors only offering movie theater-style snacks, the lack of proper food at the sporting venues nearly spoiled what was an otherwise flawless Olympic experience. # **WEIRDEST:** - BABY FUWAS: While we got giddy every time those jumbo inflatable Fuwa took to the field, we were a little creeped out by their mini-me sidekicks – mostly because we knew that there was probably a 6-year-old child sweating their head off inside that plush suit. - OLYMPIC VOLUNTEERS: Granted we were [saved more than once]( http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/articles/blogs-beijing/beijing-olympics/olympic-volunteers-to-the-rescue/) by their plethora of tourism maps and pamphlets, but their omnipresence and perma-peppiness was still a bit too "Stepford Wives" for our liking. - SOCIAL CONDITIONING: So maybe we did all benefit from more orderly line-ups and (relatively) fewer encounters with phlegm-monsters, but didn’t those “politeness days” feel eerily like “Brave New World”? # **WINNERS:** - USAIN BOLT: Michael who? Redeem what? These Olympics were about one thing – the Jamaican Lightning Bolt. The fastest and most flamboyant legs in sports today put on an unforgettable show at the Bird’s Nest that electrified the world and ensured the Beijing Games’ place in history. - COCA-COLA: They were the only drink we (were allowed to) have at the venues. They were the only corporate pavilion we were excited to see (and were willing to stand in line for despite the 15-20 minute wait!). They had the only jingle we had stuck in our head (_“Heya! Heya! Zhongguo hong qilai!”_). And with appearances by big-name Olympic athletes and Chinese celebrities regularly drawing hundreds of fans into their Shuang Zones, Coca-Cola may have had the most successful campaign of all the official Olympic sponsors. - OPENLY GAY ATHLETES: The 2008 Olympics were billed as the coming out party for the new China, but it was equally so for the ten openly gay Olympians competing in Beijing. Many prejudices against homosexuality in sports circles still exist, but after winning seven medals – including Aussie diver Matthew Mitcham’s stunning gold in the 10m platform – it's clear that queer is here and they're winning medals! # **WIENERS:** - SORE LOSERS: Though the image of 80-kg taekwondo black-belt specialist Angel Matos roundhouse kicking a referee in the head brought some muffled smirks to our faces, the fact is, poor sportsmanship – whether it be attacking an official, throwing away a medal or failing to call a point against yourself – has no place at the Olympic Games. - JACQUES ROGGE: For a [stodgy technocrat](http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/beijing/track_field/news?slug=dw-rogge082108&prov=yhoo&type=lgns), International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge sure had a lot to say about Usain Bolt’s athletic performance. Criticizing the Jamaican sprinter for his pre-game showmanship and flashy celebrations, Captain Rogge of the IOC Fun Police took a billy-bat to Bolt's golden parade and showed once again how out of touch the IOC is. - NBC: [Time-delayed broadcasts](http://www.nypost.com/seven/08132008/tv/nbc_time_bandits_124201.htm)? [Obnoxiously over-the-top commentators](http://www.slate.com/id/2198179/)? [Potentially homophobic video editing](http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid60146.asp)? Thank goodness we could rely on [CCTV](http://2008.cctv.com/06/01/07/index.shtml) during the Games (who thought we'd ever say those words together!), because despite dishing out $894 million for the rights to these Olympics, NBC proved to be a woefully inadequate broadcaster. Hopefully they get their act together in [2010](http://www.vancouver2010.com/en). # **CAN'T WAIT TO SEE…** - IF IT LASTS: During the Olympics we breathed a little easier, saw a little more blue sky, and commuted a little faster, but we can only keep our fingers crossed that these positive new changes will last after the Olympic flame has been extinguished. - THE PARALYMPICS: Now that we’re hooked, we can’t wait to get our next sports fix from the [Paralympic Games](http://en.paralympic.beijing2008.cn/index.shtml), running from September 6-17. Though we’ve only just been introduced to the concept of wheelchair rugby and power-lifting, from what we’ve seen on YouTube, this could be epic! - LONDON 2012: Try and top that! #What were your favorite memories from the Beijing Games? Share your stories below.

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sicapitan's picture


Steve Hooker; I take pride in that thief. :-)


Id say the closing ceremony had every bit of WHOA! factor the opening ceremony had. Both were simply fantastic. F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C.
lilkuo's picture


Tragic but awesome. Watching that really cute Russian pole vaulter Evgeny Lukyanenko get the gold STOLEN from him by Aussie Steve Hooker (who then unzipped his shirt, hurt his foot vaulting, laid on the ground for five minutes, zipped his shirt back up and then broke the Olympic record clearing 5.96 meters).


Lebron James' dunk with 2 minutes left in the first half against the Chinese was monstrous. So monstrous that NBC bullied YouTube into pulling it. A dunk was so awesome the copyright needs to be jealously guarded. And then my othe rmoment was partying at Block 8 when the Dream Team waltzed in and Lebron was dancing. Yes, dancing.
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