Eight top sporting stories of 2008

As 48 hours remain of the year that brought us 8-8-8, here are, in my opinion, the world’s most celebrated sports stories….

8) 8-8-8: Beijing. Wasn’t it symbolic? Perfect? That their revered number “8” would be their land’s first-ever Olympics? At 8 p.m.? On the eighth day? Of the eighth month? Of the century’s eighth year? As we all look back at the 17 Olympic days, this we can conclude: No other event was bigger-spent, had a more overwhelming Opening Ceremony, and an almost flawless execution than in Beijing.

Graeme Mackinnon: Paralympians are heroes

Graeme (top) in the 1965 Grand Final of APIA vs. St. George

He is Australian and Cebuano. While he grew up ‘Down Under,’ he resided in Cebu for 14 years. From 1986 until 1990, then again from 1994 to 2003, Graeme Mackinnon was the dynamo of one sport in Cebu: football.

He helped form, among many, the Balls Disco Under-18 squad, the Springale program (with Mario Ceniza) and the M. Lhuillier Sports Development Foundation (MLSDF) teams from Carmen, Danao, Naga, Barili, Talamban and Toledo.

The Bird’s Nest: Finally, we land inside

BEIJING—Apart from not seeing the US “Redeem Team” embarrass everyone in basketball (though we did see Kobe and LeBron in separate sports venues here) and not capturing, with our bare eyes, the historic 8-for-8 achievement of a dolphin named Phelps, our China trip lived up beyond our expectations—especially with what we witnessed two days ago.

For there, fronting us, stood a colossal monument that is the one symbol of the 2008 China Olympics. Costing nearly $500 million, it was built with 36 kms. of unwrapped steel, weighs close to 50,000 tons and occupies a whopping area of 258,000 square meters.

But more than the astronomical figures, it’s the intoxicating beauty of a structure that, when the name “Beijing” will be mentioned from hereon, will appear beside those of The Great Wall and The Forbidden City as a global landmark: The Bird’s Nest.

Everywhere in Hong Kong, it’s Beijing

When you stroll along the world-famous harbor of Hong Kong, as I did with my family last weekend, your eyes will stare at familiar sights: dozens of high-rise metallic buildings that touch the clouds, green Star Ferry boats that transport 26 million people each year, and thousands of tourists that line the seafront posing for picturesque moments. But, there’s one new sight that was never visible in the past six weeks or 12 months or 24 years that now envelopes Hong Kong: The Olympics.

Pasted on one side of an imposing building along the harbor are five giant Olympic rings, each bearing an Olympic color: blue, yellow, black, green and red. At night, these lighted rings are visible from almost any part of Hong Kong—even from the faraway tourist attraction called The Peak.