Beijing 2008

Beijing 2008

China’s capital Beijing hosted a truly spectacular Olympic Games in 2008. For the world’s most populous nation it was their first time hosting and an outstanding success.

IOC President Jacques Rogge closed the Games by saying, “through these Games, the world has learned more about China, and China more about the world…. These were truly exceptional Games!”

The Chinese excelled both on and off the sporting arena. The 37 venues, Olympic Village and thousands of friendly volunteers will be talked about for years to come.  

Australia at these Games

Six-time Olympic rower James Tomkins carried the Australian flag in the Opening Ceremony and the star of the team Stephanie Rice, with three gold and three world records in the pool, carried the flag in the Closing Ceremony.

Australia’s women dominated in the pool. Some ‘expected gold’ from world record holders didn’t eventuate but stirring wins in events like the 4x200m relay more than made up for it.

The most anticipated final in the pool was the men’s 1500m final as Grant Hackett was striving to make history and win the event for the third consecutive time. He gave it absolutely everything and came agonisingly close, missing the gold by 0.69 seconds from Mellouli of Tunisia.

There were plenty of brave performances and other highlights for the team.

Outside of downtown Beijing towards the Great Wall Emma Snowsill dominated the women’s triathlon for gold and Emma Moffatt produced the race of her life for bronze.

At the regatta centre there was double rowing gold when Drew Ginn and Duncan Free won the men’s pair and David Crawshay and Scott Brennan the men’s double scull. For Ginn it was his third Olympic gold from three attempts.

Kayaker Ken Wallace at his first Games won bronze in the K1 1000m and then stormed home two days later to win the K1 500m.

470 sailors Elise Rechichi/Tessa Parkinson and Malcom Page/Nathan Wilmot defeated the conditions and the world’s best sailors to win gold.

The main stadium was a happy hunting ground for the athletics team. Steve Hooker produced an Olympic record and kept Australia on the edge of their seats with his pole vault gold medal. Sally Pearson (then McLellan) showed scintillating form and determination in the 100m hurdles to win a surprise silver. Jarred Tallent fulfilled his potential with an amazing silver (50km) and bronze (20km) in the race walks.

The Games finished on a high for the Australian team. On the last night of the Games, diving sensation Matthew Mitcham produced the highest scoring dive in Olympic history to move to the top of the podium and deny China a clean sweep of diving gold.

In team sports Australia won minor medals in women’s basketball (silver), team eventing, men’s hockey (bronze), women's softball (bronze) and women’s water polo (bronze).

Australian Olympians At The Games

Flag Bearers

Olympian Name Ceremony
James Tomkins Opening
Stephanie Rice Closing

Australian Medallists At The Games

Olympian Name Sport Medals
Des Abbott Hockey
1
Glenn Ashby Sailing
1
Angie Bainbridge Swimming
1
Belinda Wright Softball
1
Bronte Barratt Swimming
1
Suzy Batkovic Basketball
1
Gemma Beadsworth Water Polo
1
Robin Bell Canoe/Kayak - Slalom
1
Tully Bevilaqua (Crook) Basketball
1
Jodie Bowering Softball
1
Scott Brennan Rowing
1
Grant Brits Swimming
1
Leith Brodie Swimming
2
Travis Brooks Hockey
1
Kiel Brown Hockey
1
Briony Bryant (Cole) Diving
1
Darren Bundock Sailing
1
Ashley Callus Swimming
1
Cate Campbell Swimming
2
Rohanee Cox Basketball
1
David Crawshay Rowing
1
Kylie Cronk Softball
1
Nikita Cuffe Water Polo
1
Lara Davenport Swimming
1
Hannah Davis Canoe/Kayak - Sprint
1
Liam De Young Hockey
1
Ashley Delaney Swimming
1
Luke Doerner Hockey
1
Jamie Dwyer Hockey
1
Nick Ffrost Swimming
1
Lyndsie Fogarty Canoe/Kayak - Sprint
1
Suzie Fraser Water Polo
1
Clayton Fredericks Equestrian - Eventing
1
Lucinda Fredericks (Murray) Equestrian - Eventing
1
Duncan Free Rowing
1
Bevan George Hockey
1
Drew Ginn Rowing
1
Taniele Gofers Water Polo
1
Hollie Grima Basketball
1
David Guest Hockey
1
Kate Gynther Water Polo
1
Grant Hackett Swimming
1
1
Rob Hammond Hockey
1
Kelly Hardie Softball
1
Tanya Harding Softball
1
Francis Hegerty Rowing
1
Amy Hetzel Water Polo
1
Laura Hodges (Summerton) Basketball
1
Steve Hooker Athletics
1
Lauren Jackson Basketball
1
Sonja Johnson Equestrian - Eventing
1
Megan Jones Equestrian - Eventing
1
Leisel Jones Swimming
2
1
Fergus Kavanagh Hockey
1
Mark Knowles Hockey
1
Emma Knox Water Polo
1
Bronwen Knox Water Polo
1
Jacqueline Lawrence Canoe/Kayak - Slalom
1
Stephen Lambert Hockey
1
Andrew Lauterstein Swimming
1
2
Felicity Galvez Swimming
2
Sandra Lewis (Allen) Softball
1
Linda Mackenzie Swimming
1
James Marburg Rowing
1
Eli Matheson Hockey
1
Alicia McCormack Water Polo
1
Cameron McKenzie-McHarg Rowing
1
Anna Meares Cycling - Track
1
Chantal Meek Canoe/Kayak - Sprint
1
Matthew Mitcham Diving
1
Emma Moffatt Triathlon
1
Simmone Morrow Softball
1
Tracey Mosley Softball
1
Patrick Murphy Swimming
2
Kerry Wyborn Softball
1
Eddie Ockenden Hockey
1
Malcolm Page Sailing
1
Kylie Palmer Swimming
1
Kirk Palmer Swimming
1
Tessa Parkinson Sailing
1
Sally Pearson (McLellan) Athletics
1
Erin Phillips Basketball
1
Adam Pine Swimming
1
Stacey Porter Softball
1
Warren Potent Shooting
1
Emma Randall Basketball
1
Elise Rechichi Sailing
1
Shayne Reese Swimming
1
1
Stephanie Rice Swimming
3
Brenton Rickard Swimming
2
Mel Rippon Water Polo
1
Rebecca Rippon Water Polo
1
Melanie Roche Softball
1
Shane Rose Equestrian - Eventing
1
Lisa Oldenhof Canoe/Kayak - Sprint
1
Matt Ryan Rowing
1
Jenna Santoromito Water Polo
1
Mia Santoromito Water Polo
1
Jessicah Schipper Swimming
1
2
Melanie Schlanger Swimming
1
1
Grant Schubert Hockey
1
Jenni Screen Basketball
1
Emily Seebohm Swimming
1
Justine Smethurst Softball
1
Andrew Smith Hockey
1
Belinda Snell Basketball
1
Emma Snowsill Triathlon
1
Christian Sprenger Swimming
1
Danielle Stewart Softball
1
Hayden Stoeckel Swimming
1
1
Eamon Sullivan Swimming
2
1
Alice Tait (Mills) Swimming
1
Jared Tallent Athletics
1
1
Matt Targett Swimming
1
1
Penny Taylor Basketball
1
Natalie Titcume Softball
1
Libby Trickett (Lenton) Swimming
2
1
1
Ken Wallace Canoe/Kayak - Sprint
1
1
Natalie Ward Softball
1
Matt Wells Hockey
1
Tarnee White Swimming
1
Kristi Harrower Basketball
1
Nathan Wilmot Sailing
1
Melissa Wu Diving
1

History

China’s capital Beijing hosted a truly spectacular Olympic Games in 2008. For the world’s most populous nation it was their first time hosting and an outstanding success.

IOC President Jacques Rogge closed the Games by saying, “through these Games, the world has learned more about China, and China more about the world…. These were truly exceptional Games!”

The Chinese excelled both on and off the sporting arena. The 37 venues, Olympic Village and thousands of friendly volunteers will be talked about for years to come.

China’s athletes won a staggering 51 gold medals, 15 more than the United States. The US won 110 medals in total compared with China’s 100. Russia was the third best nation, Great Britain produced their best result in a century to finish fourth with 19 gold. Germany was fifth with 16 gold and Australia was sixth with a tremendous 14 gold, 15 silver and 17 bronze.

During the Games countdown there was much debate and protest around the world regarding China’s human rights record, the pollution in Beijing and other political issues. However once the flame was lit in the Bird's Nest on the 8th of August and the blue sky appeared the attention turned to the 10,708 athletes from a record 204 National Olympic Committees.

The star of the Games was American superfish Michael Phelps who won a record eight gold medals in the Water Cube, breaking seven world records in the process. The disappointment of the Games was Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang who came in as the defending champion but an achilles injury forced him out before the first hurdle.

China’s NBA basketball superstar Yao Ming was another Games drawcard but his team were no match for the US ‘redeem team’ who made up for their disappointing showing at Athens 2004.

The equestrian competition was held in Hong Kong, the sailing events in the seaside city of Qingdao some 550 kilometres from Beijing and football matches were held in Beijing and surrounding provinces.

Both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies were spectacular with the 91,000 spectators in the Bird's Nest and the billions of TV viewers in awe at the spectacle.

The flame was lit by legendary Chinese gymnast Li Ning, who was hoisted high into the air to "run" along the roof's edge. When he reached the cauldron that had unfurled during the athlete's march through the stadium, a burst of flame lit up the sky.

The Ceremony ended with another magnificent fireworks display staged by a total of 600 engineers from hundreds of locations around the city, some as far away as the Great Wall of China.

Australia was represented by 435 athletes and 318 support staff across 26 sports in Beijing. They confirmed Australia’s position as an Olympic superpower finishing sixth on the medal tally with 14 gold, 15 silver and 17 bronze.  In total 124 athletes won medals. 

Games Trivia

Emblem

The "Dancing Beijing" emblem, depicting a Chinese seal inscribed with the character "Jing", from the name of the host city in the form of a dancing figure.

Motto

The motto for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was One World One Dream

Mascots

There were five Fuwa representing the Beijing Games: Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, and Nini. Together, the names form the sentence "Beijing huanying ni," which means "Beijing welcomes you".

Each Fuwa represented a continent and a colour of the Olympic rings:

Beibei was blue, representing Oceania and water and was designed to look like a decorative lots and fish.
Jingjing was black, representing Africa and the forest and was designed like a giant panda.
Huanhuan was red, representing Europe and fire and was designed to look like the Olympic flame.
Yingying was orange, representing Asia and the Earth and was represented as a Tibetan Antelope.
Nine was green, representing the Americas and the sky and looked like a Chinese swallow bird.

Beijing Mascots Fuwa

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Did you know?

Gold and silver medals must be made of 92.5 percent pure silver; the gold medal must be gilded with at least six grams of gold.