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Monday, August 25, 2008

Reuters: Top 10 moments of the Beijing Olympics

Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:18am EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Following is a selection of the top 10 moments from the Beijing Olympics:

1) Usain Bolt breaks the 100 meters world record. Bolt already owned the record and in front of a packed Bird's Nest stadium he ran 9.69 seconds. He thumped his chest in triumph over the last few meters before his 'marksman' celebration which became one of the lasting images of the Games.

2) Michael Phelps roars in triumph and relief after American team mate Jason Lezak overtook France's Alain Bernard on the final leg of the 4x100 freestyle relay to keep alive Phelps's dream of beating Mark Spitz's record from 1972 of seven golds in a Games - a dream he was to realize.

3) Liu Xiang dejectedly walks away from the track as he realizes he has to withdraw from the defense of his 110 meters hurdles title because of a leg injury. Liu was the most popular sportsman in China and his grimacing departure clouded the Games for millions of home fans.

4) Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva turns the Bird's Nest into her private theatre with a gold medal and world record-breaking pole vault performance that captivated the 91,000 crowd. After she spent most of the competition lying under a towel, she broke her own world mark with a leap of 5.05 meters.

5) The Opening Ceremony. It emerged that some of the performance seen on television had been enhanced by computers, a child singer was replaced by a supposedly prettier face to mime to her voice and representatives of China's ethnic minorities were no such thing. But it was a jaw-dropping beginning to the Games, culminating in former gymnast Li Ning being swung up the roof of the stadium and 'running' around the top level before lighting the cauldron.

6) German weightlifter Matthias Steiner kisses a picture of his late wife Susann on the gold medal podium, choking back tears over the promise he made to her that he would keep their Olympic dream. The super-heavyweight made the pledge to Susann at her bedside in hospital as she lay dying after a car crash in 2007.

7) American Matt Emmons blows a 3.3-point lead on the very last shot of a 120-shot competition to throw away the gold medal in the "marathon" event of shooting. Four years ago in Athens he had fired at the wrong target and squandered a 3-point lead.

8) Usain Bolt breaks Michael Johnson's 200 meters record. Charging towards the finish line, Bolt has his eye on the clock all the way and once again celebrates his triumph in style -- this time, after he completed his run.

9) Rohullah Nikpai wins Afghanistan's first Olympic medal with a bronze in the men's 58-kg taekwondo. Proof that no matter how tough the conditions you have to train in, Olympic success is achievable if you have the talent.

10) Estonian Gerd Kanter celebrates his discus gold medal by sprinting down the 100 meter track at the Bird's Nest and mimicking Bolt's marksman routine. High school jinks in a week when fun was put back into track and field.

(Compiled by Simon Evans)