Date: 8-24 August 2008
Volunteers: 100,000 venue volunteers, 400,000 city volunteers
The Beijing 2008 Olympic torch relay, with the participation of more than 21,800 torchbearers, lasting 130 days, passing through 19 cities in 19 countries and regions and 106 cities in China's 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions and covering a distance of 150,000 kilometers, is remembered as the farthest reaching relay involving the largest number of participants in the history of the modern Olympic Movement.
For the Beijing Games, the Chinese delegation has an average age of 24.4 and is composed of 639 athletes participating in 28 sports, 38 disciplines and 262 events. Among all the athletes of the Chinese delegation, veteran athletes have achieved new glory in their careers, while newcomers are becoming the main force of China sports in Olympic arenas. Among all the Chinese athletes two-thirds were making their debut at the Olympic Games.
Sharpshooter Tan Zongliang, 37, is one of the three Chinese athletes making their fourth Olympic trip. The other two are basketballer Li Nan and Guo Jingjing, two-time Olympic champion in the women's springboard.
Also on the Chinese Delegation were 38 foreign coaches including men's basketball manager Jonas Kazlauskas of Lithuania.
Chinese President Hu Jintao declared open the 29th summer Olympic Games of Beijing in the National Stadium in north Beijing on August 8.
The exciting announcement came after a nearly-one-hour art performance highlighting China's 5,000-year civilization and modern achievements, and a 2.5-hour march-in by more than 10,000 athletes from 204 countries and regions.
During the two-week competitions, the Chinese delegation displayed impressive skills in athletic technique. By scoring the best ever result at the Games with 51 gold, 21 silver and 28 bronze medals, China achieved a major historic breakthrough and made significant contributions to the hosting of a high-standard and unique Olympic Games in Beijing.
In events traditionally strong for the Chinese, such as weightlifting, gymnastics, diving, table tennis, badminton, shooting and judo, athletes took 39 golds, accounting for 80% of the gold medals earned by China. Moreover, Chinese Olympians made historical breakthroughs in such events as archery, rowing, trampoline, fencing, sailing and women's gymnastics.
"We are very happy to display our dominance in weightlifting," said Ma Wenguang, team manager of Chinese weightlifting.
At the same time, Chinese gymnasts rebounded from a disappointing one-gold performance at Athens 2004 to reap nine titles in Beijing.
"We never gave up despite the setbacks at the Athens Games," said Huang Yubin, head coach of the Chinese gymnastics team. "We worked really hard in the past four years and I'm so happy that we were able to come back with more victories on home soil."
In addition, China tasted maiden golds in sailing, archery, trampoline and rowing, which helped realize its remarkable increase on gold medals tally.
"Our dream has eventually come true. We have waited for this gold medal for so long," said Yin Jian, who was crowned in the women's sailing RS:X category.
However, Liu Xiang, the defending 110m hurdles champion and China's only title hope in track and field at the Beijing Games, dramatically pulled out from the qualifying heats with an Achilles heel injury.
"He wanted to run so much. He never wanted to disappoint the fans who rushed to the Bird's Nest to watch him race. But he just could not hold on, it really hurts," said Liu Xiang's coach Sun Haiping, who broke into tears at the press conference following the star hurdler's surprising withdrawal.
The Chinese women's volleyball team, who had brought home China's only gold in team sports from the Athens Games, also missed out on the opportunity to repeat the glory before settling for the bronze medal.
"We were playing under tremendous pressure from the home crowds," said Chen Zhonghe, head coach of the Chinese women's volleyball team. "The Chinese delegation has won so many golds this time, and we knew that the delegation needed a gold in team sports desperately, but it's really difficult."
The Chinese athletes have displayed good spirit by not overly expressing elation when victorious or depression when defeated. Take markswoman Du Li for example. Although she had failed in the 10m air rifle, she made necessary and adequate adjustments and, by throwing off the shadow of her previous failure, managed to come from behind to win the gold medal in her second event, the 50m rifle 3x20.
The Chinese delegation has adhered to the stringent policy of anti-doping and followed the IOC rules for doping control to achieve participation free of any single positive case of drug use.
(Sources: Xinhuanet and BOCOG)