By Laura Maggs and Chanel Pallent
The 2008 Beijing Olympics are in full swing following a spectacular opening ceremony held on Friday, 8 August. The event was built around the ancient Chinese Confucius saying: “friends have come from afar, how happy we are” and was an openly flamboyant bid to win international acclaim.
The ceremony itself took place in Beijing’s “Birds Nest” Stadium and combined tradition and ancient Chinese history as well as modernity and technological advancement. A large chunk of the four hour event was dedicated to showcasing China’s greatest contributions and inventions, from paper and the art of calligraphy to gunpowder and the martial arts. Our very own Drum Café was invited to perform, bringing a touch of Africa to the diverse cultural hotpot.
With the Games underway, South Africa has yet to shine in this year’s Olympics. Although we haven’t been raking in medals, our arrival at the games was one to be proud of. At the opening ceremony, swimmer Natalie du Toit led the South African squad into the stadium, proudly waving the national flag. Du Toit, whose left leg was amputated in 2001, is the first disabled athlete to qualify and compete against able-bodied competitors at the Games. Du Toit took part in the 10 kilometre marathon swim and finished, comfortably, in fourth pace.
China, the host country itself, has already claimed an outstanding ten gold medals. The USA is in the lead with a total of 11 gold medals, a full seven of which were won by swimmer, Michael Phelps who has certainly made an impact in his division. Although there have been no major setbacks, at one stage fears were kindled over suspicion of doping in the men’s 100m sprint event. Otherwise, officials are confident that this year’s Olympics will progress smoothly. The Games are to last until 24 August.