New events at the Games: the 10km swimming marathon and BMX
Dutchman Maarten Van Der Weijden won the men’s 10km marathon, while in the women’s race, the title went to Russia’s Larisa Ilchenko.
In BMX – short for Bicycle Moto Cross – it was France’s Anne-Caroline Chausson who became the first Olympic champion. For the men, this honour went to Latvia’s Maris Strombergs.
First Olympic medals and titles
Two hundred and four National Olympic Committees (NOCs) took part in the Beijing Olympic Games - a record! Some 87 of them celebrated their medal-winning athletes. For some NOCs, it was the first time that one of their representatives had won a medal or was crowned Olympic champion: Tajikistan won its first medals thanks to Rasul Boqiev in the judo and Yusup Abdusalomov in the wrestling; Afghanistan stepped up on to the podium thanks to Rohullah Nikpai in taekwondo; Badar-Uugan Enkhbat in boxing and Tuvshinbayar Naidan in judo were the first athletes from Mongolia to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games; just like Bahrain with Rachid Ramzy in athletics. For the African continent, Bruno Julie in boxing and Benjamin Boukpeti in canoe/kayak offered Mauritius and Togo respectively their first Olympic medals, while Panama took its first gold medal in athletics.
The oldest world record smashed in swimming
The women’s 800m record had been held by Janet Evans (USA) for almost 20 years. But in Beijing, Great Britain’s Rebecca Adlington smashed this record, which had been set in 1989 when she was only six months old. In 2008, in the 800m final, Rebecca Adlington improved on the previous time by more than two seconds, with a new time of 8:14.10. She took the gold medal in the 800m and in the 400m, and became the first British gold medallist in women’s swimming since 1960.
The oldest and the youngest participant in the Games
In Beijing, almost 50 years separated the oldest from the youngest athlete: Japanese horse rider Hiroshi Hoketsu took part in his third Olympic Games at the age of 67, whilst Cameroon swimmer, Antoinette Joyce Guedia Mouafo participated in the Games for the first time at the tender age of 12.
Age is not necessarily a disadvantage
With his ninth participation in the Games and at the age of 61, Canada’s Ian Millar won his first medal in the team jumping event. At 33, and with her fifth participation in the Games, Germany’s Oxsana Chusovitina won the silver medal in artistic gymnastics, while US swimmer Dara Torres took three silver medals at the age of 41.
Ultramodern sports facilities and thousand-year old history
The National Stadium, re-named the “Bird’s Nest”, and the National Swimming Centre, known as the “Water Cube”, were avant-garde models of sports architecture and the symbols of the new Beijing.
In cycling, for the road race, the organisers chose to follow the Great Wall and pass in front of the “Forbidden City” - two symbols of the thousand-year-old history of the city.
Thirty-seven venues, six of which were outside Beijing, hosted the competitions: namely Hong Kong for the equestrian events and Qingdao for the sailing; and Tianjin, Shanghai, Qinhuangdao and Shenyang for the football matches. Six of the sports facilities located on the city’s university campuses will be used by students after the Games.
Beijing, 8 August, 2008, Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXIXe Olympiad. The last runner of the Olympic Torch relay Li Ning prepares to light the Olympic cauldron.
Official opening of the Games by: President of the People's Republic of China Hu Jintao
Lighting the Olympic Flame by: Li Ning (artistic gymnastics)
Olympic Oath by: Zhang Yining (table tennis)
Official Oath by: Huang Liping (gymnastics)