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Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Top 8 Olympic MOMENTS

Eight moments to remember By Alan Abrahamson, NBCOlympics.com

BEIJING -- The magic of the Olympics is in those moments that make memories. Here, in the spirit of the 2008 Olympics and the number that's said to be auspicious in Chinese culture, are eight to take away from these Beijing Games:

No. 1 Phelps' primal scream
Jason Lezak, swimming the anchor, turned in the fastest relay split of all time, 46.06, to give the American men's 4x100m relay team the gold medal over the French in the most exciting, harrowing, unbelievable relay race ever -- immediately and indisputably one of the greatest sports moment ever. The victory marked the second of the eight gold medals Phelps would win at the Beijing Olympics. And up on the deck, Phelps -- amid teammates Garrett Weber-Gale and Cullen Jones -- let loose with a scream of sheer exultation.

No. 2 Usain Bolt's 100m celebration
It's not supposed to be possible to win the glamour event of the Summer Games when, seven full strides from the finish line, you break form, lower your arms to your side, look around and then, as you cross, do a chest-bump thing to signify not only that you've won but done so in world-record time, 9.69 seconds. Usain Bolt of Jamaica did all of that -- the first of three finals, all gold medals, all world records.

No. 3 Kyle Bennett's gnarly crash
In a preliminary round BMX moto -- moto is what they call a heat in BMX, which made its Olympic debut in Beijing -- Bennett was involved in a five-rider pile-up at the first turn. That turn produced crashes in eight of the 12 semifinal heats. Bennett's wreck left him with a dislocated shoulder. He was down for a long time, then got up, waved off the doctors and, his arm out of the socket, rode the rest of the course, steering with one hand, finished the race.

No. 4 Dwyane Wade to Kobe Bryant
The U.S. men's basketball team, out for redemption, laid a 23-point preliminary-round beating on Greece -- retribution for a loss at the 2006 FIBA championships. The victory produced a play that underscored the athleticism, talent and bravado of the NBA stars on the U.S. team. In sequence: Dwyane Wade steals the ball. Wade's momentum carries him out of bounds along the wing edging toward halfcourt. He nonetheless has the quickness and court awareness to fire an alley-oop -- sideways, no less -- to Kobe Bryant. Who finishes with a monster slam.

No. 5 Roger Federer's joy
The Swiss tennis star, with Stan Wawrinka, won Olympic gold in men's doubles. After all the money, all the titles, the fame, the glory -- Federer fought tears during the medals presentation. "Here you have the man who is arguably, with Sampras, the best-ever tennis player in the world. He has won everything. But the medal, the gold medal, he didn't have," International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said.

No. 6 Alicia Sacramone falls off the balance beam
It was a move she had done countless times: up and onto the beam. This time, though, in the team finals, Alicia Sacramone went up and lost her balance and came right back down. She would go on to miss a tumbling pass as well. The U.S. team would ultimately win silver -- the Chinese took gold -- and while the Americans did not lose because of Sacramone, she said, "I think I would feel a little better with myself if I didn't make those two mistakes."

No. 7 Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor were all wet
Playing in a pelting rain, the two American beach volleyball stars repeated as Olympic champions, defeating a Chinese pair, Tang Jia and Wang Jie for the gold medal. On the medals stand, after the match that forever made plain that beach volleyball is athletic competition of the highest rank, way more than just sunglasses and cheerleaders, the two held hands while proudly singing The Star-Spangled Banner.

No. 8 Men's volleyball wins for country and coach
At the start of the Olympics, U.S. men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon's father-in-law was stabbed to death in Beijing. McCutcheon stepped away from his job to take care of his family. But his team, stirred by the tragedy, began an incredible run which ended with a 20-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-23 victory over defending champion Brazil -- a team that they were never expected to beat. "It hasn't been easy, not that it was ever going to be easy. But when you throw in the emotional load that the team has had to bear collectively, for them to come through and be this good is a wonderful achievement," McCutcheon said.

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