Well, the 2008 Beijing Olympics are now in the history books. The timezone thing made it a bit difficult to watch something live and be truly surprised and nervous for the competitors, but there still were some great moments to be watched and admired. The whole Michael Phelps thing goes without saying. The only downside of that I think was the overcoverage of swimming events as compared to many of the more exciting (at least to me) track and field events (maybe I just wasn't watching at the right time) and other interesting events like table tennis and synchronized swimming. In any event, it was great to see the US basketball team back on top. Jamaica's Usain Bolt's world records in the 100 and 200 were just amazing. The beach volleyball rocked. As did Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson, among the other great US tumblers.
For all the great moments and 'thrills of victory', the Olympics can be hard to watch someone fail. Seeing Lolo Jones get tripped up over that last hurdle was tough. And that shooter who's gun went off accidentally, counting as a miss just as he was poised for certain gold in the event. The sacrifices these athletes must make to be get to this level of competition is incredible. Years of their lives. Hard work, discipline, insane training regimes, complete focus on a single goal. The ultimate prize - gold. An instant of competition that's over in less than 10 seconds, a few dives, or a few laps in a pool. It's hard to imagine working so hard for a single opportunity to succeed or fail.
Michael Phelps, when asked how he was able to win an unprecedented 8 gold medals, replied, 'I just imagined it, then set up a training regime to make it happen.'
Of course, imagining it is important, but it's just a place to start. From there, it takes unflinching determination and hard work on a daily basis. Direct translation - thousands of miles of swimming, grueling strength training workouts, sprints until your legs won't move, doing whatever it takes to be the best in your chosen field/pool/track. You have to admire every single athlete in these Games.
It's obvious that Beijing spared no expense, from that crazy 'bird's nest' stadium to those over-the-top but way cool opening and closing ceremonies. They knew the world's eyes would be on them and they'd be darned if they'd let a little smog dim the view of their proud culture.