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Smoke and mirrors

The Beijing Games may have been fabulously well organised but two aspects of the Opening ceremony stuck in some people's throats. Not only did it emerge that some of the fireworks were actually computer generated but a little girl singer was actually miming along to the voice of a less pretty girl.


Dream turned to nightmare for the American volleyball team as the coach's father-in-law was stabbed to death by a deranged Chinese at a tourist spot. The victim's wife was also seriously injured in the unprovoked attack, while the culprit committed suicide at the scene of his dreadful crime.

Shoot to kiss

A military conflict broke out between Russia and Georgia during the Games but two Olympic shooters, Russian Natalia Paderina and Georgia's Nino Salukvadze hugged on the podium as they picked up silver and bronze medals for the 10m pistol event.

Fighting families

The Lopez family left Beijing with three medals, one apiece for eldest brother Steven, bronze in the 80kg Taekwondo, Mark with a silver in the 68kg event and bronze for sister Diana in the women's 57kg event. French brothers Steeve and Christophe Guenot, security guards on the Paris regional train network, also won gold and bronze respectively in Greco Roman wrestling.

Old Olympian

After picking up her first medal at Los Angeles in 1984, American pool 'grannie' Dara Torres picked up three silver medals at Beijing 2008 despite her ripe old age of 41-years-old. Torres came second in the 50m freestyle, 4X100m relay and the 4X100m medley to take her career tally of Olympic medals to 12.

Young Olympian

Spain's Ricky Rubio became the youngest basketballer to take part in a final at the age of 17 years and 308 days. The Badalone prodigy scored six points in the defeat to the United States, a thrilling game that ended 118 to 107.

Wrong lane

There was a great deal of confusion, not to mention disappointment, after the men's 200m as Dutch Antillian Churandy Martina and American Wallace Spearmon, second and third across the line, were both disqualified for lane infringements in favour of eventual silver and bronze medallists Shawn Crawford and Walter Dix, both of the US. The victory of Jamaican colossus Usain Bolt was uncontested.

Bad loser

Furious after his semi-final defeat in the Greco-Roman 84kg category Sweden's Ara Abrahamian claimed the refereeing had been partial and in protest he placed his medal in the ring. He was punished for his petulance by being officially excluded from the Games.

Very bad loser

Another fit of fury saw Cuban taekwondo competitor Angel Matos and his coach banned for life from all competition. Matos had an injured foot and was disqualified after going over the time limit for medical treatment. Realising what had happened he rose from the floor and kicked the referee in the face.


American shooter Matthew Emmons went to Athens as champion and was about to retain his title needing only a six from his final shot. He famously landed the bullet in the wrong target and walked off to drown his sorrows in a bar, where incidentally he met the woman who became his wife. In 2008 Emmons was back for another go but with a single shot between him and a new title his gun, to everyone's horror, went off unexpectedly.


Many were the athlete's who arrived at the Games with a gold medal well within their sights. Croatian high jumper Blanca Vlasic, American sprinter Tyson Gay, Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang, a string of Cuban boxers and Britain's marathon runner Paula Radcliffe all however went home with their tails between their legs.

Copyright 2012 Agence France-Presse.