Saying goodbye to Beijing

BEIJING (CIOC) – It was fitting that on the morning of the last day of the Beijing Olympics Games, a contingent of the Cayman Islands Olympic Team would travel to China’s most famous symbol of human greatness for hundreds of years – the Great Wall.

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Crowds applaud and celebrate as they watch a screen showing London Mayor Boris Johnson televised live from Beijing, China during the official Olympics handover ceremony, at a London 2012 concert held in central London, Sunday Aug. 24, 2008. The free concert to celebrate the moment when London becomes the official host city for the summer Olympic Games of 2012 was attended by thousands of people. Photo: AP

It was a poignant moment to reflect on the athletes’ accomplishments at these Games as well as the greater achievements of bringing so many diverse nations together to compete on an even playing field.

First time Olympian Ronald Forbes compared the ingenuity to build the Great Wall to the effort that it takes to get to the Olympics.

“You can feel the effort that it took to get these games together,” says Forbes. “China is a place that doesn’t hold back when it comes to effort and that is one of the things that the Great Wall signifies when you see if first hand.”

During the closing ceremony Forbes was thinking about his entire experience in China, his races, his victories, his disappointments and the people he met at the Games.

“I will also be thinking about what the next Olympics will be like; not only being more experienced and being more ready, but also having the experience of being here at the Games, knowing that not everyone in the world can get to experience that from an athlete’s standpoint,” said Forbes.

Brett Fraser, a first time Olympian swimmer, was also grateful for the opportunity to meet other great athletes that have broken world records.

Stretching over 6,000 miles, the Great Wall is breathtaking says Coach Kenrick Williams.

“It is really magnificent to see what humans can do if they push themselves to the limit,” says Coach Williams. “It is just underscored what the Olympics is all about – human greatness, pushing themselves to the limit – just like Cydonie and just like Ronald. They pushed themselves to the limit.

“I hope by the time we get to 2012, that will be our 6,000 miles.’

Chef de Mission Lori Powell reflected on each of the four athletes who competed at this year’s Games as well as the goodwill generated among many nations: runner Cydonie Mothersill, hurdler Ronald Forbes and swimmers Shaune and Brett Fraser.

“All four of them did amazingly well,” says Powell. “Cydonie made the finals – our first for the Cayman Islands. They have been great ambassadors for our country. The Cayman people are known for their friendliness and everyone wants to just be around them and they have had a great experience. We all have.”

Powell acknowledged that she didn’t know what to expect, but she has been impressed by what China has achieved during the Beijing Games.

Three athletes set national records and personal bests and another made the finals.

“It is amazing how China has put together the Olympics and how organised they were,” says Powell. “How they have showcased themselves to the world in such a happy and positive way.”

“I think it is going to be very hard for any other Olympics to top these Olympics. The bar has been set very high for London or any country to follow.”

Living in Beijing for two years, British Attache, Matthew Bishop explained these Games were very important to China.

The country invested over $40 billion for the Games. There were over 100,000 volunteers on the Olympic grounds and 500,000 citywide, operating the Olympics from security, to cooking, to translation, chauffeuring and cleaning. For his part, Bishop felt honoured to work with the Cayman Islands team.

“What has impressed me most has been the friendliness and openness of the Cayman team and I hope sometime I will get the chance to go visit Cayman,” says Bishop.