Inspiring moments from Olympic history

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 August, 2008, 12:00am

The slogan may be 'One World, One Dream', but there have been many memorable moments and great athletes over the years at the modern Olympic Games. Here at CitySeen, we are definitely ready to leave the politics of the Beijing Games behind and just stick to sport. For fun, we've decided to ask various local personalities what athletic hero from Games past and present they most admire and respect, and what outstanding achievement of theirs deserves a gold for inspiration.

Dee Poon, fashion retail executive

'I think the crowning moment of the Olympic Games has to be the opening ceremony. It is a time where people from the entire world come together to celebrate sport and all the nations. I always feel a rush of patriotism when the China team - actually when any team - come out. It's a beautiful feeling when the world puts their differences aside and stand together. There is also such a buzz and energy.

'As for an athlete, I grew up watching the NBA and come from a family of avid basketball players. Although not an Olympic moment, my favourite sports highlight is a picture on my wall of my grandfather wearing a T-shirt with a China flag pinned on it playing against, and being fouled by, several American players.

'I have no idea what the nature of the game was, but am pretty sure it was probably informal. I don't even know if they won that game, but one of the events I am going to see this year is the China vs US basketball game.'

Alyson Hau Ka-ming, RTHK radio host

'The most memorable and striking moment at the Olympics in recent years, for me, would definitely be seeing Liu Xiang win the gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games. I was in awe! While most people had this misconception that Chinese hurdlers could not genetically be this outstanding in track and field events, that 'miracle' proved to the world that nothing is impossible. I can still remember Liu's facial expressions after winning the 110 metres hurdles gold. There certainly is a lot of pressure on his shoulders now, especially having this year's Olympic Games taking place in our own country. Whether he continues his reign or not, Liu Xiang has already become a role model and an inspiration for all Chinese athletes.'

Martyn Sawyer, group general manager, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels

'That's an easy answer: Daley Thompson, [Britain's] decathlon gold medallist in the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games. He is my age (one year younger actually) and at the time represented everything that was right about British sport. He stood out, even at a time when greats such as Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram were at the top of their game, as a supremely talented, humorous and irreverent showman.

'The decathlon is, in my opinion, the finest example of Olympic endeavour and the pinnacle of athletic achievement. The supreme battle between Thompson and West Germany's Jurgen Hingsen during the 1980s was one of sport's greatest rivalries.'

Pino Piano, director of Gaia Group

'I used to be a runner in my youth and we were shown film clips of past heroes. The one I admired the most was [Ethiopian] Abebe Bikila, winner of the Rome and Tokyo Olympic marathons. He wore no shoes in Rome. And every time when I ran and I was in pain, I remembered him and the pain he must have suffered on his feet for 42km.'

Pete Spurrier, publisher of Blacksmith Books

'In general I'm turned off by the commercialism and nationalism of the Olympics, but one thing that has stood out for me this year is the determination of Iraqi athletes to compete. As if training amid the chaos of Baghdad wasn't hard enough, the chairman of their national Olympic committee was abducted by gunmen in 2006 and never seen again.

'The seven athletes who qualified for Beijing then faced having all their ambitions dashed by a dispute between their government and the IOC. As it is, the Iraqi team now comprises one discus thrower, a sprinter [and a double sculls rowing team], but these people embody for me the spirit of determination in the face of adversity. China and the US will dominate the medals table, but the Iraqis have achieved their own victory simply by being there.'