2008 Olympic Games, Beijing, China

The Games of the XXIX Olympiad returned to Asia once again in 2008. Beijing was selected over Toronto, Paris, Istanbul, and Osaka. The choice of China being selected met with a lot of criticism, due to the human rights record, but no country chose to boycott the Games. More than 200 countries would send athletes to these Games and 86 countries would claim medals. Forty-three world records and 132 Olympic records were set during the Games.

The Chinese spared no expense on venues for these games. Many of the venues were a little strange to take in, but all were aesthetically pleasing. In all 37 venues were used, and 12 were built specifically for these games.

The opening week of the Games saw the rise of Michael Phelps. With a little help from Jason Lezak and teammates, Phelps won 8 gold medals, the most gold medals of any athlete in any games, breaking Mark Spitz record. Phelps also recorded 6 golds in individual events breaking the record of 5 shared by Eric Heiden and Vitaly Scherbo. Phelps dominated most of his events, the closest being a relay where Lezak touched the wall mere moments ahead of the next team, and of course the most controversial being the touch in the 100 meter butterfly. Phelps official margin of victory was .01 of a second over Milorad Čavić. Photos seemed to show Čavić touching first, but Phelps touched more forcefully to cause the time to register.

The gymnastics were dominated by the Chinese. The Chinese men won gold in the team event and in every discipline except vault. On the women’s side the Chinese team also won the team gold, but American’s Nastia Luikin and Shawn Johnson would win gold and silver in the all around.

The track and field world was set back on its heels as a 6’5″ beast emerged from Jamaica. Usain Bolt absolutely destroyed the field in the 100 and 200 setting world records in both events.

American Bryan Clay won the decathlon; Kerri Walsh and Misty May defended their gold medal in women’s beach volleyball and Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser won gold on the men’s side.

The Chinese won the most gold medals with 51 and finished with 100 medals total adding 21 silver and 28 bronze. The US had 110 total medals 36g, 38s, 36b, with Russia third with 73, 23g, 21s, 29b.