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Christophe Simon, Getty Images
Fireworks light up the sky at the end of the closing and hand-over ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games at the National Stadium on Sunday.

BEIJING — It all started off as "One World, One Dream."

But as the curtain closed on the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the memorable numbers are more than merely those two "ones."

They'll be remembered for Michael Phelps' eight gold medals, 16 days of competition, the 100 and 200 meters by Usain Bolt, 302 events, 10,709 athletes, some 20,000 journalists, a host city of 15 million, a host country of 1.3 billion and the Olympics budget of the People's Republic of China at an estimated $40 billion and counting.

The Beijing Games began with their highest of highs and lowest of lows, all within about 16 hours of each other. In the wake of the stunning, captivating opening ceremonies on Aug. 8 came the brutal stabbings of an American couple — with close ties to both the U.S. men's and women's volleyball teams — at the Beijing Drum Tower at noon the following day.

By the time the Olympics were over, the global audience had witnessed Phelps' unprecedented eight-medal run at the equally unprecedented-appearing Water Cube venue, an impressive team performance by the Chinese women gymnasts (or girls, depending on their still-unconfirmed ages), "golden" individual outings by U.S. gymnasts Nastia Luikin in the all-around and Shawn Johnson on the beam, Bolt running true to his name at the Bird's Nest in three world-record sprints (including the 4x100 relay), dropped batons and pulled hamstrings among the track disappointments and the United States' net volleyball gains with a pair of beach-version golds and a gold and silver indoors.

And to no one's surprise, the United States swept both the women's and men's basketball golds, with the star-studded men's team redeeming the bronze-medal woes of the 2004 Athens Games and quickly figuring out just how popular NBA superstars are in adoring China.

But to nearly everyone's surprise, the U.S. men were challenged throughout their gold-medal game by short-handed but determined Spain.

Baseball and softball said goodbye in Beijing, with America's pastimes now dropped from the Olympics schedule. And the United States couldn't go out on a golden note in either, with the baseball squad of minor-leaguers settling for bronze and the softball team upset by Japan as the American women were oh-so-close to a fourth consecutive gold medal.

Making their Games debuts were a pair of BMX cycling events, the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase and swimming's open-water marathon, with table tennis and fencing retooling a couple of their competitions.

As for Olympians with Utah ties, the state was represented with a full metallic set — gold (Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer in men's basketball; Ryan Millar and Rich Lambourne in men's volleyball), silver (Logan Tom in women's volleyball) and bronze (Kevin Jepsen and Matt Brown in baseball; Levi Leipheimer in cycling).

Here's a recap of how Utah Olympians fared at the 2008 Beijing Olympics:

MEN'S BASEBALL: A pair of current Salt Lake Bees players — infielder/designated hitter Matt Brown and pitcher Kevin Jepsen — helped the United States to its bronze medal, playing key roles in the final medal-round game. They'll catch up with the Bees as they complete the regular season on the road — although certainly nothing as far as Beijing — and as Salt Lake heads into the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

Meanwhile, a pair of former Salt Lake minor leaguers — outfielder Ryan Radmanovich and pitcher Steve Green — played for Canada, which didn't advance out of round-robin play.

MEN'S BASKETBALL: The Utah Jazz tandem of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer join another former Jazz duo — John Stockton and Karl Malone — as U.S. gold medalists, with the Americans downing a silver-medalist Spain team that featured another one-time Jazz guard in Raul Lopez.

Former University of Utah standout and No. 1 NBA draft Andrew Bogut helped Australia break out of an early tournament funk to reach the medal round, only to have Bogut turn an ankle early and the Aussies get overwhelmed by the Americans in the quarterfinals.

And Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko and his generally strong all-around play paced Russia, which couldn't manage to get out of pool play after five games.

MEN'S BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Bountiful native Jake Gibb and U.S. playing partner Sean Rosenthal went undefeated in pool play and advanced from their Round of 16 match to the quarterfinals before running into Brazil's side of Ricardo/Emanuel, the defending Olympic champions.

MEN'S CYCLING: Levi Leipheimer, who attended Salt Lake's Rowland Hall and trained in Park City for nearly a month leading up to the Beijing Games, earned a bronze medal in the men's time trials and a spot out of the top 10 in the road race.

Salt Lake City resident David Zabriskie paced U.S. teammates — including Leipheimer — early in the road race before dropping out and then posted a top 12 finish in the time trials.

WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS: University of Utah gymnast Daria Bijack competed for Germany in the preliminary rounds, with neither she as an individual nor her team advancing further.

MEN'S SOCCER: Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Chris Seitz was a reserve who didn't see match time with the U.S. men's team, which in turn didn't exceed past pool play.

WOMEN'S TRACK AND FIELD: Former Weber State distance runner and current Wildcat assistant coach Lindsey Anderson ran in the first heat of the first-ever women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, but the American runner didn't advance further. And Salt Lake resident and U. instructor Zuzana Tomas ran the marathon, with her body cramping up as she reached the National Stadium and dropping her back in the field of finishers.

MEN'S TRACK AND FIELD: A pair of former NCAA champions for BYU competed in the preliminaries of their respective events — Josh McAdams for the United States in the steeplechase and Nik Arrhenius for Sweden in the discus.

WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Opening the Beijing tournament just hours after learning about the stabbings of a former teammate's parents, former Highland High standout Logan Tom and the United States survived pool play with only one loss and avenged that loss with a semifinal victory over Cuba, sending the American women to their first gold-medal volleyball match since 1984. There, however, the U.S. settled for the silver after falling in four sets to Brazil.

MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Former BYU players Ryan Millar and Rich Lambourne one-upped their 1999 NCAA championship season with the Cougars by helping the United States to an undefeated Olympic run and a gold-medal victory over defending champion Brazil. The U.S., however, had to do it without early tournament help from head coach Hugh McCutcheon, a former BYU player and assistant, whose in-laws were the ones stabbed at the Beijing Drum Tower.

Another Cougar — current BYU libero Joel Silva — started for Venezuela, whose Olympics volleyball debut started and ended with pool play.


E-mail: taylor@desnews.com