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The Five Greatest Athletes of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
Who are they and why?
1. Michael Phelps (Aquatics/USA): Considered the best athlete in the world by many Olympic experts, Michael holds the current world record in seven swimming events: 400m individual medley (4:03.84 ), 200m freestyle relay (1:42.96), 4x100m freestyle relay (3:08.24), 200m butterfly (1:52.03), 4x200m freestyle relay (6:58.56), 200m medley individual (1:54.23), 4x100m medley relay (3:29.34). On August 16, 2008, he also set an Olympic record in the 100m butterfly (50.58). A national hero of Maryland and the United States, he won 16 Olympic medals. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, he broke Mark Spitz’s 36-year-old record with eight Olympic gold medals. From 2004 to 2008, Michael Phelps won more Olympic gold medals than many countries (including Ireland, Luxembourg, Iceland, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal and Malaysia). Unlike Mark Spitz, Michael did not participate in the Pan Am Games. Mike Celizic (sportswriter) wrote: “Phelps has done things we’ve never seen before and are unlikely to see again. And he’s done it every time he’s left the starting blocks. His 14 gold medals for his career is the record. Beijing, he won eight gold medals, five of them on his own and three as a member of two relay teams. He won two gold medals on the same day, and seven medals came with a new world record”.
2. Rafael Nadal (Tennis/ Spain): The 22-year-old is one of the greatest tennis players in history. He became the first Spaniard to win the gold medal in Olympic tennis. The Spaniard Rafael Nadal beat the Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, who won the bronze medal in the men’s singles tennis tournament at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens (Greece). In 2008, Rafael also won the French Open and the Wimbledon tournament. Like most Spaniards, Rafael Nadal played football (soccer) in his youth. “I continued to play football as well as tennis, but little by little I played more and more tennis with my uncle, says Nadal. But I always preferred football. He was my true love When I was young”. In addition to his native language, he only speaks English well enough to hold an informal conversation. He says, “Sorry, my English is not so good. I only speak a quarter of English. Maybe a quarter of a quarter. Not good.” .World tennis number one Rafael Nadal was born on June 3, 1986 in Manocor, Mallorca (Spain).
3. Usain Bolt (Athletics/Jamaica): He is an Olympic idol in the world. At the Beijing Games in 2008, Usain won two gold medals: 100m (world and Olympic record) and 200m (world and Olympic record). He set his first world mark on August 16, when he ran the 100 meters in 9.69 seconds (breaking his own record). Just four days later, Usain set a new world record of 19.30 seconds in the 200 meters, beating the old mark of 19.32 set by Michael Johnson (USA) in 1996. Usain Bolt was born on 21 August 1986 in Trelawny, Jamaica. Tim Layden -an American sports journalist- wrote: “He was offered scholarships by several American universities but refused”. Unlike many famous athletes, Usain trains and resides in Jamaica, birthplace of Donald Quarrie, Donovan Bailey, Patrick Ewing, Lennox Miller, George Kerr, Asafa Powell, Tessa Sanderson, Marlene Ottey. Usain Bolt likes Jamaica – it’s about the size of Connecticut – and the Caribbean countries. “I can’t live outside of Jamaica,” he says.
4. Yelena Isinbayeva (Athletics/Russian): She won back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the pole vault (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008). During this century, she broke 24 world records and several European records. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, she broke her own world record with a jump of 5.05 meters. This athlete won five world championships from 2004 to 2008. Olympic pole vault champion Yelena was born on June 3, 1982 in Volgograd, Russia. His trainer is Vitalii Afanasievich Petrov.
5. Lionel Messi (Football/Argentina): Like Ronaldinho (Brazil), Lukas Podolski (Germany), Luis Figo (Portugal) and Victor Naofor (Nigeria), Lionel Andres Messi, better known as “the Flea”, is one of the best players in the world. Under Lionel Andres Messi, Argentina qualified for the final of the Beijing 2008 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. In 2005, he led the Argentine team to the FIFA U-20 World Championship in Holland . Argentina beat Nigeria 2-1 in the final…
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