For many different reasons, the 2008 Beijing Olympics was one of the more unique entries in Olympic history. It was the first time the most populous country on Earth hosted the largest celebration of sportsmanship with athletes from all over the world.
The Beijing Olympics will always be remembered for its many record-breaking competitions & athletes. From the number of medals, a single athlete won, to the fastest runner and the first athlete from a country to win a medal, these moments defined the essence of the 2008 Olympics: the games that celebrated the excellence and the magic of sports.
Since the Olympics are here again, revisit some of those moments with us, as we now show some of the highlights of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Usain Bolt becomes the fastest runner
Recall the 2008 Beijing games, and you’ll have to remember Jamaican runner Usain Bolt. Only twenty-one at the time, Bolt found the time to smile at the cameras at the finish line as he established a new record for the men’s 100m dash: finishing at an impressive 9.69 seconds. Until then, no runner had ever achieved such a fast mark.
The new mark smashed the previous one by three hundredths of a second, quite unbelievable for a runner that didn’t start that sprint very well. Usain Bolt had the second-slowest reaction of all eight competitors, but thanks to his height and long limbs, the Jamaican runner finished first with only 41 strides.
Thanks to those strides, a new record was broken. Usain Bolt not only broke the record in the 100m, but also in the 200m. He not only won the gold medal again but also broke another record: Usain Bolt broke Michael Johnson’s twelve-year-old world record mark that was unbeaten since the 1996 Atlanta games.
Michael Phelps is the king of the pool
All swimming competitions of the Beijing Olympics were held at an iconic place: The Water Cube, a complex shape with water bubbles, built very appropriately for the pool sports.
Despite its massive — and impressive — shape, its reputation as a cutting-edge pool was eclipsed by one swimmer, Michael Phelps. Or, as we should say, the king of the pool due to his impressive numbers.
Michael Phelps swam seventeen races over nine days, winning eight golds and setting seven new world records. He broke the medal record that belonged to Mark Spitz since the 1972 Olympics. The last stroke came in the 4x100m relay final when Phelps was exhausted at the 100m butterfly. Being at seventh place halfway, he made his huge wingspan prevail, and won the race — and the gold — to the U.S. team.
Rohullah Nikpai puts Afghanistan on the medal board
The Beijing Olympics will be remembered not only for the massive records that top athletes broke, but also where some newcomers stole the show and became heroes & models for their home countries, plus converting into symbols of the Olympic spirit.
This is the case with Rohullah Nikpai, a taekwondo fighter representing Afghanistan, a country that had been severed by foreign invasions and wars for more than two decades. And that image started to change in that competition.
It was August 19th, 2008, and Rohullah, one of the only four athletes from Afghanistan competing in the Beijing Olympics, went on for the bronze medal match of the tournament. He defeated then-world champion, Juan Antonio Ramos, from Spain and won the first medal ever for an Afghan athlete. And that made Rohullah gain his space in Olympic lore, showing the real nature of the Olympics: integration of the people.
Any other moments from the 2008 Beijing Olympics we forgot? Drop them in the comments below!