PATRICK COLLINS, a veteran of nine Olympics, is the much-admired chief sports writer of the Mail on Sunday, whose views are always keenly sought
The Games of Beijing stood apart from all of their predecessors. They represented by far the most extravagant, grandiose spectacle that the Olympic movement has ever seen. We assumed that the Chinese would deliver something dramatic, but we never anticipated anything on this scale.
Other Olympics tend to be remembered for their heroes; even Berlin ’36 evokes visions of Jesse Owens rather than the stage on
which he performed. But while we shall remember Beijing for Phelps, Bolt, Hoy and the rest, the abiding memory will surely be of the scope, the scale … and the Bird’s Nest.
Beijing’s extravagance is possibly London’s greatest blessing.
Although the budget for 2012 has been subjected to scrutiny and criticism, it may now be regraded as a bargain, an object lesson in parsimony and prudence. Plainly, this does not allow it the right to spend heedlessly, on the grounds that China spent far more. But it will encourage it to become smarter, shrewder, more inventive.
It must encourage genuine spontaneity, it must flood the capital and the nation with giant screens, so that watching the Olympics will become a collective activity, rather than one conducted behind closed doors. In short, it must take the best of Beijing, and reduce it to human dimensions.
Star of Beijing
The obvious contender is the multi-garlanded Phelps. But my star was Usain Bolt.
The relay world record and gold medal was memorable. The 200 metres WR and gold was breathtaking.
But the 100 metres victory was perhaps the most staggering piece of theatre that the Games have witnessed. For that alone, he takes the honour.
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