roster & staff
Day 20: Goodbye Beijing!|
BEIJING (China) - On Sunday-evening, the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing came to an end with the Closing Ceremony, which was as spectacular and impressive as the Opening Ceremony on August 8.
After the last competition day of the Games was concluded with handing out the final 12 Gold Medals, all 204 participating countries were on hand during the Closing Ceremony in the evening.
Before the actual Ceremony started, there was a performance show based on the Fuwa, the five Olympic mascots.
Beibei (the blue-colored fish) stands for blessing of prosperity,
Jingjing (the black panda) stands for blessing of happiness,
Huanhuan (the red Olympic Flame) stands for blessing of bestows,
Yingying (the yellow Tibetan antelope) stands for blessing of health
and Nini (the green swallow) stands for blessing of peace.
The five have the colors of the five Olympic Rings and the first parts of their names 'Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni' translates into 'Welcome to Beijing'.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and IOC-President Jacques Rogge then entered the immense National Stadium ('Bird's Nest'), which again was filled with over 90.000 spectators.
After a fireworks display, a countdown started with '29', to symbolize the 29th Olympic Games.
Hereafter, the Chinese National Flag was raised and National Anthem was played.
A drum formation then started the musical Closing Ceremony, which was followed by the entrance of the flags of the 204 National Olympic Committees that participated.
Swimmer Maarten van der Weijden was the flag bearer of the Dutch National Flag.
Van der Weijden, who won the Gold Medal in the 10 km marathon swimming, won the election (38 percent) to carry the flag, which was organized by the Netherlands Olympic Committee on its website.
Next was the entrance of the more than 10.000 athletes, who participated in the Games.
Recognizable in the TV-broadcast was Dutch Softball Coach Mary-Ann Hatt and pitcher Judith van Kampen, who was talking with Belgium gold medalist Tia Hellebaut.
Also visible were Dutch Baseball-players Dave Draijer and Michael Duursma.
Next on the schedule was the Victory Ceremony for the Men's Marathon, which was held earlier today and won by Samuel Kamau of Kenia.
A total of 302 Gold Medals were handed out during the Games. The Dutch Olympic Team finished in 12th place with seven gold medals, five silver and four bronze for a total of 16.
Dutch Chef de Mission Charles van Commenée stated that he ''had a good feeling of these Games'' and that he ''was more than satisfied''.
After the volunteers of the Olympic Games were honored, it was time to raise the Greek National Flag and play the Greek National Anthem to honor Greece, where the Olympic Games originated and where the first Modern Olympic Games were organized in 1896.
Next, the British National Flag was raised accompanied by 'God Save The Queen', the British National Anthem, to honor Great Britain, which will host the next Olympic Games in 2012 in its capital London.
The Olympic Flag was then lowered, while the Olympic Hymn was being played, as the Olympic Games were coming to an end.
Hereafter, the original Olympic Flag was then handed over from the Mayor of Beijing to IOC-President Jacques Rogge, who handed the Flag to Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.
In his speech, Dr. Rogge stated that ''this were 16 glorious days, who will remain in our memory for ever'' and ''a truly exceptional Games''.
London then showed itself to the world with a musical and dance show, showing its creativity, including performances by dancers from the Royal Opera House.
Included in the British performance was a spectacular double-decker bus, which changed shapes to became a stage from which singer Leona Lewis, who was accompanied by guitarist Jimmy Page of legendary rock-group Led Zeppelin, performed.
Famous soccer-player David Beckham also was on hand in the British show.
An emotional moment came when the Olympic Flame was extinguished at 9:24 PM local time, ending the 29th Olympic Games.
Hereafter, a 'Memory Tower' arose in the center of the stadium, including dazzling acts by acrobatics.
This was followed by a song and dance show, which included performances by Chinese soprano Song Zuying, famous Spanish tenor Placido Domingo and wellknown Chinese actor Jackie Chan.
Of course, there was a lot of fireworks, which also concluded the Ceremony with an impressive show.
The 29th Olympic Games in Beijing attracted a record TV-watchers worldwide, as an estimated 4,4 billion people watched the Games.
The 2004 Olympics in Athens (Greece) were watched by 3,9 billion people.
And so, the 29th Olympic Games concluded.
An yes, tears were shed during the Closing Ceremony, as a wonderful event came to a conclusion.
An event with a lot of memorable, impressive, great, wonderful, exciting and spectacular sports moments.
During the day and evening, several montages were shown on CCTV, the host TV-station, with beautiful highlights of the past days.
And it showed again how beautiful sports (whatever sport it is) can be.
The Chinese have done a great job since the Olympic Games were officially opened on August 8.
On all venues, a lot of friendly and suppportive volunteers were working and made long days, but they always did it with a smile.
Of course, sometimes there were long waiting periods for the security checks, but that shortened when the event was underway.
China, which was a great host, can be proud of itself with this impressive Olympic Games.
For all of us involved, these Olympic Games will always have a memorable place.
From September 6-17, Beijing will host the Paralympic Games.
As the official songs told us daily:
,,You and Me,
From One World,
We Are Family!''
For a lot of athletes, the focus already was aimed at the next Olympic Games, to be staged in London (Great Britain) in 2012.
Unfortunately, softball and baseball won't be part of the 30th Games, so for the softball- and baseball-family, today's Closing Ceremony was extra emotional.
Nevertheless, we all have good hoped that both sports will return in the near future.
In October 2009, the International Olympic Committee will discuss the sports calender for the 2016 Olympic Games, for which Chicago (USA), Tokyo (Japan), Madrid (Spain) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) are the candidate-cities.
Both softball and baseball are campaigning for the reinstatement of their sports.
So, show your support for our sports in the coming months to bring softball and baseball back on the Olympic Games, where they belong to be.
Both sports are being played worldwide in more than 100 countries.
Both the softball- and baseball-tournament of the Games in Beijing showed the excitement of the two sports.
And besides that, the surprising winners in both tournaments (Japan in softball, Korea in baseball) underscored that the two sports are no longer dominated by a few countries (USA in softball, Cuba in baseball), but that it is really a global sport.
Already back in the early sixties, Europe had a lot of organised competitions in the member countries of the European Softball Federation and European Baseball Federation, as well as European Championships in several age-groups.
With this, Europe has been a frontrunner.
Also, the sports are big in the Americas, Asia and Oceania, so they deserve to be Olympic!
For all of us in the baseball and softball world, our task is now to show our sports belong in the Olympics.
For the Dutch Olympic Softball Team and Dutch Olympic Baseball Team, it will be back to the national competition in the next few days.
On Wednesday and Thursday, games are being scheduled between Terrasvogels and Sparks Haarlem in the Dutch softball-competition, while the baseball-season resumes on Thursday-evening.
Next Saturday, Terrasvogels travels to Prague (Czech Republic) for the European Cup-tournament, while Sparks Haarlem is going to Bollate (Italy) for the CupWinners Cup-tournament.
All together, ten players on the Olympic softball-roster will therefore be back on the field on Wednesday and have another tournament ahead of them.
The Dutch Olympic Team travels back home on Monday.
Photos will be added later
Go back to the schedule of the Olympic Games