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Beijing Olympics ends; focus turns to London 2012

Fireworks explode above participants performing during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium August 24, 2008. The stadium is also known as the Bird’s Nest.
Beijing, Aug 24 (Agencies):
Published on 25 Aug. 2008 1:16 AM IST
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AT the end of 16 wonderful days in Sydney in the spring of 2000, no one thought the Olympic Games could possibly get better. They just have. Notwithstanding the political backdrop, the Beijing Olympics have been a breathtaking success. In almost every respect, they have equalled or surpassed the Games that Juan Antonio Samaranch declared to be “the best Olympic Games ever”. This article is the opinion of John Coomber, Senior Sports Writer with the Australian Associated Press. It continues below. Follow the closing ceremony, comment on it yourself, and help wrap up the Olympic Games with Barrack Live below. (Meet other Barrackers on Facebook here.) They were kick-started by a jaw-dropping opening ceremony. The venues, especially the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, are magnificent. The level of pollution has been nowhere near as bad as feared. Whether by design or accident, thunderstorms have kept the skies for the main part clear. Throughout, the organisation has been practically flawless. The scale of the organisation has been, not surprisingly, Beijing’s greatest strength. They have been able to throw thousands and thousands of people at every aspect of it. The number of buses is mind-blowing. Empty seats at some of the early events were soon filled when organisers whistled up yet more volunteers to fill them and cheer themselves hoarse. China soared to the top of the medal table almost from the outset, leaving the other Olympic super powers USA and Russia struggling in their wake. On top of that, these Games have had two absolute superstars - Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. Phelps rewrote Olympic records by winning eight gold medals and setting seven world records. For showmanship and sheer star quality, however, Bolt is in a world of his own. Nobody has had the same galvanising effect on an Olympic Games. Sadly for the Chinese, they were robbed of their “Cathy Freeman moment” when hurdler Liu Xiang took only three steps before limping out of the 110m hurdles.

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