Summer Olympics 2008 Highlights
The Summer Olympics 2008 highlights include a multitude of upsets, firsts and world records, along with one spectacular ceremony to open the games in Beijing, China. In honor of the number eight being lucky in Chinese culture, these eight highlights from the 2008 Summer Olympics are perhaps the most memorable and most exciting from the Beijing games.
- The opening ceremony. Starting at 8:08:08 p.m. on August 8, 2008, the Summer Olympics in Beijing began with one of the most lavish and spectacular opening ceremonies of all time. With a price tag of over $100 million to produce, the Summer Olympics 2008 opening ceremony featured 15,000 performers and numerous special effects over the four-hour event at Beijing National Stadium.
- Michael Phelps. Arguably the top highlight of the 2008 Summer Olympics, American swimmer Michael Phelps took home eight gold medals from Beijing, breaking the record for the most gold medals of all time by a single athlete. The swimmer also set seven world records and an Olympic record in the process.
- The US basketball team. Dubbed the "Redeem Team," the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team fought back after a bronze-medal finish in 2004 to win the gold in Beijing. Not only did Team U.S.A. dominate China in the opening game, the all-star roster, including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, upset the defending world champion Spain in the gold-medal finals.
- Usain Bolt. Running at speeds that would make a bolt of lightning jealous, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt cleaned up at the 2008 Summer Olympics, winning three gold medals. Bolt was the highlight of the competition, winning individual gold in the 100-meter and 200-meter events as well as sharing in Jamaica's gold in the 4×100 meter relay.
- Chinese women's gymnastics. The host nation of China dominated the gymnastics events at the 2008 Summer Olympics, taking in a total of eighteen medals, including eleven golds. While the feat was initially one highlight of the Beijing games, it soon turned controversial after an investigation revealed that members of the team were underage and not eligible to compete.
- Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor. American female volleyball players Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh retained their rank as the top players in the world by winning their second consecutive gold medal at the 2008 summer games. Playing through rain, the pair went undefeated in the tournament, extending their unbeaten streak to a phenomenal 108 matches.
- Japan defeats the U.S. in women's softball. In perhaps one of the biggest upsets at the 2008 Summer Olympics, the women's softball team from Japan upset the United States in the finals, winning three to one. The stunner was tough to swallow for the American team, who had consistently won the gold since softball was introduced to the games in 1996.
- Dara Torres. Although Michael Phelps was the highlight of the swimming events in Beijing, 41-year-old female swimmer Dara Torres held her own at the 2008 Summer Olympics. The veteran added three silvers to her medal collection, becoming the oldest person to win an Olympic medal.