While China was hugely impressive in gathering 100 medals, it's not the first time a country has cracked the century mark at the Olympics. In fact, it’s been done 16 times previous to this, which seems remarkable.
The most recent country to get 100 or more medals was the U.S. in 1996 , although they had to endure two weeks in Atlanta to do it. It’s probably going to be a while before anyone beats the record. The U.S. won 233 medals at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, which were really part of a World's Fair and only spottily attended by foreign athletes. Canadians may recall that one guy from out of town managed a medal, that being Toronto’s George Lyon in golf. The story goes that Lyon was pleased with himself that he walked through the clubhouse on his hands. Let’s see Phil Mickelson try that.
If you’re trying to guess the second highest mark ever for a single nation at the Olympics, you’d be smart to think about the boycotted games of 1980 and 1984. The Soviet Union won 195 medals in Moscow in 1980 when the Americans stayed home in a huff, while the U.S. returned the favour a bit in 1984 by picking up 174 medals in Los Angeles.
FROM MOSCOW WITH LOVE
Maybe it’s just me. I don’t usually draw stares when I walk down the street. At least not that I never noticed. But I swapped a few Canada t-shirts on Sunday for a bright-red Russia Olympic shirt that is now my favourite article of clothing. Ever. It’s just brilliant.
I swear, however, that people look differently at me with this shirt. It’s bright, and pretty smart. But I kinda feel like anyone who looks American or Canadian is giving me the “what for” when they look me up and down. Could be rampant paranoia, which has been known to happen.
But a nice bloke sitting next to me at the closing ceremony on Sunday didn’t recognize me, even though we’d sat quite near each other in the Main Press Centre many times. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “Toronto Star. I don’t know, maybe when I saw you sitting here tonight I just saw the shirt.”
BLOWIN IN THE WIND
Because you don’t get much of a breeze inside the Bird’s Nest stadium, and trust me and my soaked shirts on that one, the Chinese apparently inserted fans inside the flagpoles so that the flags in the stadium would fly and not simply droop. A nice touch.
HALF A LOAF
It’s kinda like seeing McCartney without Lennon, but it was cool to see Jimmy Page blister his way through “Whole Lotta Love” on his guitar during the closing ceremony for the Beijing Games. He had Leona Lewis singing along with his strumming instead of his Led Zeppelin sidekick, Robert Plant. But half a Zep is better than none. Lewis, by the way, was told to change the lyrics of “Whole Lotta Love” so she wouldn’t mouth the words “gonna give you every inch of my love.” Notwithstanding that it doesn’t quite work when a woman sings it, the censorship seemed a little harsh. Then again, consider that in the 1960’s the Rolling Stones went on The Ed Sullivan Show and had to change their lyrics from “Let’s Spend the Night Together” to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.”