BEIJING: The wait is over. The count-down is done. China is ready
for a new dawn, with the opening of the Olympic Games on Friday.
Equally, the world is ready for the ‘D-Day’ to greet a new sports
super-power that has already made an impact and influenced the
life-style in every house-hold around the world, with varied products,
‘Made in China’.
The world is waiting to see whether China can dethrone the
undisputed champion nation of the last few editions, the United States,
by topping the gold-medal tally. The gap had been bridged to a mere
four medals in Athens, and China is ready for the knock-out punch at
home, despite being a good host.
The power of China is known to the world. The new strength it has
acquired by putting man-power and machinery in place for a gigantic
project costing $40 billion is bound to enhance its image as a country
that is fast opening out to the world, yet retains its mystique.
The only failure eventually could be China’s inability to clear the
atmosphere of pollution, despite trying everything that it could. All decked up
The stage is set and Beijing is all decked up with world-class
venues, including the ‘Bird’s Nest’, the National Stadium, that has 36
kilometres of steel inter-twined as twigs, for breathtaking
While hundreds of athletes are anxious to carry their National flag
in the opening ceremony, scheduled at an appropriate time by the
Chinese at 8 hours, 8 minutes and 8 seconds in the evening on August 8,
2008, the 10,000-odd athletes are itching to get on with the action.
Had anyone said that it was 20 hours at 8 p.m., the Chinese may have even planned to have the opening ceremony in the morning!
Superb 100m clash
Anyway, even the birds may stop to watch the fun, when the ‘nest’
freezes for just over nine seconds to imbibe the most electric action
that would decide the fastest man on earth. It could well turn out to
be the mother of all races when Tyson Gay tries to assert the American
supremacy in athletics, against world-record holder Usain Bolt and the
other Jamaican, Asafa Powell, in the 100 metre dash.
The towering Bolt, measuring 1.96 metres in height, took 41.5
strides to get to the world record. Others take 45! He can afford to
have a slow start, or even skip a step, to give allowance for his
If we get carried away by the traditional focus on 100 metres, we
may be mistaken as the focus in this edition is all about Liu Xiang
retaining his 110 metre hurdles gold.
If he meets the challenge from Cuban Dayron Robles, Liu Xiang is
likely to send millions of home fans into a dizzy by winning the title
at home. Maybe it will require him to set a new world record. Phelps’s big attempt
How can anyone forget the second attempt by Michael Phelps to break
the seven-gold record of Mark Spitz in the 1972 Games in Munich. The
second ‘big fish’ from America after Spitz, Phelps had failed in Athens
by winning only six gold medals and two bronze !
With the U.S. pretty serious about retaining its monopoly at the top
for the fifth-edition in succession, and setting up a three-million
dollar training base at the Beijing Normal University, a 15-minute
drive away from the Olympic village, Phelps has his task cut out. Every
Russia may have been hit by a series of dope positive cases in
recent days, but you can trust the Russians, the dominant partner in
the erstwhile Soviet Union, to give a tough time for both the host and
the US. The Australian women swimmers will be keen to press their case
as a very sporting continent, while the Japanese will be equally sharp
to show that they are second only to China in Asia. India’s golden dreams
With China looking to win one more gold medal than the US, the
second most populous country in the world, India will be looking for
its first gold medal in the last seven editions.
Eight-time gold medallist India has slipped so badly in hockey that
it does not figure this time around. If this humiliation hurts, Indian
sports will be ready for a renaissance.
The onus will be on the shooters, led by the flag-bearer
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, tennis aces Leander Paes and Mahesh
Bhupathi, the boxers and the archers, to take that small step up from
the silver medal in Athens.
If you harness man-power, you can become a super-power. China is
ready to show-case the ultimate Olympics. We need to learn our primary
lessons, all over again.