Stazjia’s Commentary

Beijing Olympics – it’s all over now

Posted on: August 25, 2008

Acrobatic artists perform on the memory tower in the National Stadium during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.

Acrobatic artists perform on the memory tower in the National Stadium during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.

I always feel sad when the Olympics are over. I’ve loved pretty much all of it except football and boxing but you can’t like every sport. Of course it’s great that Team GB exceeded all expectation for winning medals and came fourth in the medal table. They won 19 golds 13 silvers, and 15 bronzes giving a total of 47 medals in all. Now the focus shifts to improving on that total in the 2012 London Olympics.

Commentators are saying that the GB athletes arriving home today have no idea how wildly excited most people are about their achievements. They say it won’t really hit the athletes until they see the reactions to them. They are having a news conference at Heathrow then going home. There will be a celebration of their victories in October. I think the fact it’s being held in October indicates that the authorities didn’t expect anything like this number of medals and weren’t prepared for a large scale celebration.

Photo taken on Aug. 24, 2008 shows the eight-minute performance prepared by London, host city of the next Summer Olympic Games in 2012, at the National Stadium (Bird's Nest) in Beijing.

Photo taken on Aug. 24, 2008 shows the eight-minute performance prepared by London, host city of the next Summer Olympic Games in 2012, at the National Stadium (Bird's Nest) in Beijing.

It’s nice for it to be a happy surprise rather than another dismal disappointment although with a few notable exceptions, athletics wasn’t good for us. Is that because we are producing fewer outstanding athletes or that our training and coaching systems for athletics aren’t as good as they are for cycling, swimming, sailing and rowing? I can’t believe that we can produce outstanding performers in these sports but not in track and field. I am sure that there is going to be an inquest into why track and field athletes, by and large, failed to perform to the high standards set in other Olympic sports by British competitors.

Apparently, in swimming and cycling the selection process is ruthless. If an athlete isn’t improving, they are removed from the financed training program and their place given to someone who can improve and benefit from the program. This brings up another point – much as most people admire Paula Radcliffe for her guts and her outstanding achievements – why was she allowed to compete when she obviously hadn’t recovered from her stress fracture? She admitted she hadn’t been able to do the necessary training. Would any less famous athlete have been allowed into Team GB in those circumstances? I don’t think so and nor should they be. Her place could have been filled by another marathon runner who might have had no more chance of a medal but she could have gained valuable experience for the 2012 games.

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