I've been preoccupied with many things to devote much time to blogging these days, but I do want to reflect back on the Summer Olympics. China did exactly what it wanted to do: provide incredible venues for the Games, give us some ceremonies to remember, and totally dominate the medal stand. I can't say that I'll think back fondly on the closing ceremony (BTW, wasn't that Jackie Chan singing with that boy band?), but I can't imagine how London can top what Beijing was able to produce for its opening ceremony. I have to point out, however, that China could have done so much more by showing a willingness to be "open," instead of silencing dissenting voices and arresting those who dared pray.
But we must return to the opening ceremony. 2008 drummers in unison? That fantastic scroll? That perfect-looking girl lipsynching to the words sung by some buck-toothed girl? Those enhanced fireworks displays? The host nation may be a Communist, but the opening ceremony incoporated much of China's cultural, historical, philosophical, and (yes) religious history. Will London attempt anything like that, or will we just hear a lot of music by the Beatles, the Who, and the Stones? If the closing ceremony in Beijing gives us any indication, we'll be seeing lots of umbrellas and double-decker buses four years from now.
Many of the athletes became household names, but none more so than Michael Phelps of the U.S. and Usain Bolt of Jamaica. Phelps dominated the first week, winning eight gold medals in as many events. If you want to know how to beat somebody by 0.01 seconds, Phelps shows you how. He's the current cover-boy of Sports Illustrated, striking a pose similar to the one made by Mark Spitz in 1972 when he won a mere seven gold medals. If Phelps was the god of the waters, then surely Bolt was the god of the air. Every time he ran in a final, he won a gold medal and destroyed the world record. Apparently, he also has the power to improve a few Hollywood films. I had to stop and think: how fast can someone really run?
The U.S. team sports did very well. There's been much talk about the supposed "redemption" of the basketball team, but I have to think that they were fairly lucky to beat Spain out for the gold this time. I am much more impressed by the men's water polo team, who secured a silver medal when they weren't even supposed to get very far. I am much more impressed by the men's volleyball team, who won gold for a coach who had lost his father-in-law just as the Games were getting underway. I am much more impressed by both beach volleyball teams, who knew what it was like to turn golden while wearing skimpy clothing in the Beijing sunlight (well, the women wore skimpy clothes...). I am much more impressed by the men's gymnastic team, who lost two of their star players - the Hamm brothers - just before the Games began but were still able to secure the bronze medal (thanks largely to this dude's efforts).
Anyway, thanks, Beijing. We've seen how China does the Olympics, and now it's the Brits' turn.