more countries are now winning medals, so giving them a direct reference to the Olympic Games. In Beijing, competitors from a record 87 National Olympic Committees took medals, with competitors from Afghanistan, Mauritius, Tajikistan and Togo being on the podium for the first time, while Bahrain, Mongolia and Panama collected their first golds. Air rifle marksman Abhinav Bindra also won India's first individual title, a performance which hopefully will rouse the sleeping giant of Olympic sport, and a feat which also caused his mother, Babli, to joke: " Now I have lots of work ahead, as he is the country's most eligible bachelor." However, despite the range of activities among the 28 sports on the programme in Beijing, two individuals in two different sports thrust their formidable presence above all the other competitors. They were American swimmer Michael Phelps and BEIJING HIGHLIGHTS Below Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian in history after winning eight gold medals in the pool his record- breaking eighth swimming gold medal, 39.9 million American viewers were watching on NBC, its highest Saturday evening ratings for 18 years. There were 43 world and 132 Olympic records set. With the ever- increasing use of the internet, there were also five million unique visitors to www. olympic. org in the first week alone, twice as many as during the entire 2004 Olympic Games. What was notably heartening about 2008 is that
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. Competing in the two sports which are among the centrepieces of the Games, the pair became the names which will resonate whenever one talks about Beijing in the future. Phelps arrived in China, already the possessor of six gold medals from Athens. His target was to secure a further eight to make him not only the most successful Olympian of all time by overhauling the nine titles won by his compatriots Mark Spitz and ?