The National Stadium AKA The Birds Nest, seen through some of that infamous smog.
This will only be a fleeting look at the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing, China. if you want to know all about the games there will be hundreds of more informed and informative sites than this one, my post is designed to pay tribute to the athletes, whether successful or not, and to have a look at performances over the last 3 games ie; Beijing, Athens. Sydney.
It's great to know now that all the panic about air pollution, traffic gridlock, and over zealous security to name just a few things, were unfounded and the Games seem to have gone off very well indeed.
Each Olympics brings out stories of extreme human endeavor, luck, both good and bad 2008 has been no exception, we all stand in awe of the USA swimmer Michael Phelps with his tally of 8 Gold Medals, 7 world records and 1 Olympic record, this man will live forever in the minds and hearts of the whole world.
Australia, with a population of only 20 million, has once more performed exceptionally well in
Beijing coming a very respectable 6th on the medal tally board with 14 Gold, 15 Silver, and
17 Bronze, for a total of 46 Medals, I'm going to focus on the swimming as this is traditionally
where we do so well.
The Beijing Swimming Stadium AKA as the Water Cube, with the main stadium in the background
We traditionally come in 2nd to the USA in the swimming events
At Sydney in 2000 the tallies were
----USA - 14 Gold, 8 Silver, 11 Bronze, Total 33
Australia - 7 Gold, 4 Silver, 5 Bronze, Total 18
At Athens in 2004 the placings were the same
----USA - 12 Gold, 9 Silver, 7 Bronze, Total 28
Australia - 7 Gold, 5 Silver, 3 Bronze, Total 15
And again in Beijing it was USA and Australia 1 & 2 in the pool.
----USA - 12 Gold, 9 Silver, 10 Bronze, Total 31
Australia - 6 Gold, 6 Silver, 8 Bronze, Total 20
There are a few things that stand out in these figures the first is Michael Phelps, with a bag of 8 medals in each of his 2 Olympics (14 Gold and 2 Bronze) he has made a big difference, when the figures are broken down to Men and Women there is another story, thank god for our women!!!
Medal tallies 2008.
---Men - USA - 10 Gold, 2 Silver, 5 Bronze, Total 17
Women - USA - 2 Gold, 7 Silver, 5 Bronze Total 14 --- Grand Total 31
---Men - Aust - 0 Gold, 4 Silver, 4 Bronze, Total 8
Women - Aust - 6 Gold, 2 Silver, 4 Bronze, Total 12 --- Grand Total 20
OK so there is no female Phelps (thank you lord) but there is still one more interesting factor here,
Great Britain, (former easy beats in the pool and elsewhere, they were in 4th place overall with a
Total of 47 Medals) in swimming Great Britain were 3rd and China 4th, both with 6 medals although
with 2 Gold, 2 Silver and 2 Bronze for G/B and 1 Gold, 3 Silver, and 2 Bronze for China the Brits
Neither of them got any swimming medals in 2000, China got ! Gold, & 1 Silver, while Great Britain
got 2 Bronze in 2004.
So there's where some of our medals went, and it's a sign of the times that both these nations have invested VERY heavily in their sporting teams, in Australia we also spend a lot of money on nurturing our top athletes at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) located in the National Capital, most states also have an Institute of Sport too, it would seem that for any country not prepared to spend lots of money on training their athletes they will become less and less competitive in the future and that's not just in the pool of course.
This will inevitably lead to the wealthy nations, those with a new found national pride, like China, countries like Russia
and China with their cradle to Olympics attitude, Great Britain with the games at home in 2012 being examples of the countries to beat.... 2012 in London does look very interesting.