badminton done

Monday, August 18, 2008 12:20 PM

Hello Everyone,

It's been a couple of days now...I have been very busy of late, checking out more events, training, and just....being busy!

The badminton tournament ended last night. They played the mixed doubles final and bronze medal match, as well as the men's singles gold medal match. It was the end of a glorious tournament, and it ended in relative style. The current World number 1, Lin Dan, from China, brought home the gold. Many (myself included) consider him to be the greatest player ever. In the current badminton World, when there is more professionalism in the sport than ever before, he has dominated. He has been ranked number 1 in the World for the past four years, and for the past three years, he has won the three biggest events each year: 2006 World Championships, 2007 World Championships, and the 2008 Olympic Games. Nobody came even close to putting up a fight against him this week. He won the final with an impressive 21-12, 21-8 score over the World number 2, Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. It was a slightly anti-climactic ending to a final that everyone was hoping to be one for the ages, but looking at the fact that I was watching, in my opinion, the best player ever dominating the rest of the field, showing skills and physical prowess that nobody else on earth can match, I was pretty happy!

I have also been quite lucky to see some history in the making. The same day as the badminton final, in the morning, I attended the Cube, the venue for swimming and diving. I arrived just in time to see the start of the final of the men's 1500 freestyle. Like almost every other sport, this was my first experience seeing pro swimmers do their thing. I have watched tons of swimming on tv at past Olympics, and it seemed amazing. With close up, underwater views of the swimmers, the flags of the participants' countries super-imposed on their lanes, and the play by play account given by the announcers, it is really something. Being in that stadium blew all my perceptions out of the water (sorry about the pun)! As I walked to get the best view possible, everyone was cheering as the swimmers were introduced. A few seconds later, just before the race was to start, there was a silence that itself echoed through the massive hall. The beep of the buzzer went off, the swimmers dived into the pool, and the race was started. People started to cheer, but I thought to myself, "This isn't louder than the badminton final..", especially considering that badminton could hold 7500 spectators, while swimming could hold 17,000...It remained this way for about the first 10minutes of the 15minute race...I guess the 1000 meters don't really matter or something. For me it mattered, because a Canadian, Ryan Cochrane was leading up until this point! At this 1000 meter mark, that's when the place erupted and the action started. A Tunesian guy started to catch up and passed everyone to move into first. Also, an Australian who was shadowing Ryan the whole way, made his move and got ahead, leaving Ryan in the third position, but a Russian who was in fourth, was closing in fast. With each 100 meters completed, the cheering got louder and louder, until I thought the roof would come crashing down! The last 50 meters was the most dramatic of course, and the smaller race between Ryan and this Russian was VERY VERY VERY close, but Ryan Cochrane, by a finger's length, kept his lead and won bronze behind the Tunesian and then Australian. What a race!!! After that, I was all raced out, and crawled back to the village to rest until the badminton was to begin.

I took today off from watching any sports. It is very exhausting to travel from site to site, and emotionally draining to be there. It's almost impossible not to be drawn into each competition, especially knowing how these athletes feel out there. Despite being tired, I have one more big 'to-do' on my list, which is to go to the bird's nest stadium, and witness some athletics events. There are a bunch of semis and finals tomorrow evening that I will attend. I wonder what the atmosphere will be like there; that stadium can only house about 90,000 people!!!

Take care!



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