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Athletes so sad to leave Beijing

Beijing will always hold special memories for Jake Wetzel and the rest of the gold-medal-winning Canadian men`s eights rowing team, as their victory made them local celebrities. But neither will he forget the friendliness and help of the volunteers he has met here.

"Beijing is not an easy city to get around if you don`t speak Chinese," Wetzel said. "But if you get lost, there is always a volunteer close by ready to help."

Canadian badminton player Anna Rice is similarly impressed.

Anna Rice of Canada eyes the shuttlecock during their women`s singles round of 32 badminton match against Jeannine Cicognini of Switzerland at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 10, 2008. [Agencies] 

"Competing in the Olympics is always a thrill for athletes, but the thousands of volunteers here have made the Beijing Games so special," she said.

Honduran taekwondo player Miguel Adrian Ferrera Rodriguez agreed.

"I feel I`m being treated better here than I would even in my home country," he said.

Local residents have also made a good impression on the young athletes.

"Beijing is clean and people are friendly and eager to help," Canadian baseball player Ryan Ramanovich said.

Many athletes said they will also miss Beijing`s history and culture.

"Australia has only existed for 400 years, but China has a history of 5,000 years," Australian rower Stephen Stewart said.

Greek swimming coach Georgios Vallas said he is intrigued by Beijing`s mix of the modern and traditional.

"I had no idea Beijing was such an international city after opening up just a few decades ago," he said.

Vallas said he is yet to visit the Great Wall, but "that`s a great reason to come back".

Date:2008-8-24 7:52:00     
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