One party ends, another begins

DID anyone die from the pollution? No. Did the air stop athletes from putting their best leg forward? No. Was Beijing safe? Yes. Were there Olympic records? Yes.

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Published: Mon 25 Aug 2008, 10:11 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:55 PM

Actually add a few dozen more ayes to that. The Beijing Olympics, over the last 16 days, was the coming of age of China in every sense. Their athletes topped the gold medal standings for the first time while beautiful, long-legged volunteers made things easy for the largest-ever peaceful invasion by foreigners.

As an icing, not just one but two athletes produced arguably the greatest performances in Olympic history — American Michael Phelps with his eight gold medals of which seven were world records in swimming and Jamaica’s supremely confident Usain Bolt with three golds and three world records in the sprints. There were many poignant moments and some fascinating performances.

While one party came to an end in China another one was beginning in London. The Britons were celebrating not only London’s upcoming role as host in 2012, but also a breakthrough performance in China by their athletes, completing their country’s best Olympics in a century with 19 gold medals. In all, 43 world records and 132 Olympic records were set during the games.

The games exceeded everyone’s expectations. “We were prepared for smog, pollution, demonstrations, but everything has gone very smoothly,” said American rower Jennifer Kaido on Sunday as the closing ceremony came to end with a giant party and fireworks in the Bird’s Nest stadium. Once the athletes leave, we suppose the chimneys will resume belching smoke and car fumes will again make the air barely breathable. That’s China for you.

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