BEIJING -- When the Beijing Olympic flame goes out and the medal tally freezes, it is more than the gold winners and the miracles they have created that the world will fondly remember.
Having won the hearts of billions of people worldwide with his astounding speed and triple Olympic golds, Jamaica`s "Lightning" Bolt stirred the heartstrings of the Chinese on Saturday by donating $50,000 to the children in earthquake-stricken Sichuan Province.
Liu Xuanguo (L front), vice general secretary of the Chinese Red Cross Foundation (CRCF), presents the certificate of donation to Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt (R front) during a donation ceremony in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 23, 2008. Usain Bolt, who won three gold medals in the men`s 100m, men`s 200m, and men`s 4x100m relay competitions of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, donates US$50,000 through the CRCF to the children in the earthquake-hit areas of China on Saturday, and invites six earthquake-affected children to travel to Jamaica.[Xinhua]
Usain Bolt said he wished people in the quake-battered province would "get through from the tragedy" and move forward with the inspiration of the Olympic Games.
"We came here, tried to perform well," he said at the Westin hotel in Beijing. "I hope people enjoy the Games, forget the past and move on."
"You have to move forward after the disaster. The Olympics ask people to move forward," said Bolt, who claimed gold medals in men`s 100m and 200m sprint as well as the 4x100m relay at the Beijing Games.
Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt (R) poses for photos with Huang Siyu (C), a girl from the earthquake-hit Yingxiu Town of southwest China`s Sichuan Province, during a donation ceremony in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 23, 2008. [Xinhua]
Pictures showing the smiley Jamaican with two wheelchair-bound girls from the quake-hit areas spread quickly in the Internet community shortly after they were published at xinhuanet.com. Many netizens put up postings to express their gratitude and admiration for the sprinter.
"Thank you, Lightning Bolt, we love you. We`ll never forget your kindness," said a netizen named "Jinpi Huihuang", whose posting was soon followed by thousands of others.
"May you achieve the best result at every game," most of them said.
Less than four months after the 8.0-magnitude quake devastated Sichuan, people cannot brush aside their pains over the loss of lives and toppled homes there, despite all the frenzy and jubilation the Games have brought.
The quake of May 12 killed nearly 70,000 people, left 17,923 others missing and destroyed the homes of more than 10 million people.
Two weeks ago, nine-year-old Lin Hao surprised the world by walking beside basketball idol Yao Ming and leading the parade of the Chinese delegation at the Beijing Olympics opening. On Saturday, Lin found himself in the arms of Brazilian soccer legend Pele.
The little hero from the quake epicenter Wenchuan County, who had saved two his classmates from the debris, got a yellow jersey of the Brazilian football team with Pele`s autograph on it.
Pele, born in October 1940, is in Beijing to represent his country that is applying to host the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. His original name is Edison Arantes do Nascimento.
The Beijing Games have been full of affection, ever since renowned Chinese film director Zhang Yimou brought Lin Hao to the athletes parade on August 8.
Despite the heavy losses incurred by the earthquake and demanding reconstruction work, a record number of 34 athletes came from Sichuan Province to the Beijing Games, with young gymnast Zou Kai snatching three golds and tennis duo Zheng Jie and Yan Zi taking a hard-won bronze.
Meanwhile, Zou`s teammate and double-crowned gymnast Yang Wei, from the central Hubei Province, promised to auction off his Olympic silver in rings and donate the money to Sichuan.
Throughout the Beijing Games, love and humanity have glittered, in and out of the competition venues, to overshadow even Olympic gold.
Oksana Chusovitina, 33, picked a silver behind DPR Korean vault champion Hong Un-jong on Monday, thus becoming the oldest woman in five decades to grasp an Olympic gymnastics medal.
"This medal is for my son, I could not have done this without him," said Chusovitina.
The former Uzbek gymnast prolonged her career and moved to Germany to raise funds for her son Alisher, who was diagnosed with leukemia six years ago.
Deeply moved by the motherly love behind many laureates, a Beijing bank employee wrote a letter to Xinhua to describe the power of love.
"I love Du Li. I Love Phelps. I love them for their affection to their moms," said Zhang Tianxing, citing how the Chinese shooter cried during a phone conversation with her mother after taking an Olympic gold, and how the American superfish wanted to give his mom a hug the moment he got out of the pool.
Zhang recalled how his mother, a peasant woman who worked day and night to feed a big family in the rural Henan Province back in the 1960s, bought him a pair of sneakers with the money that should have been spent on medicine for her acute stomachache.
"She said I could have been the fastest runner at school had I had better shoes," said Zhang in his letter.
He did not grow up to be a runner, but a bank employee in Beijing. But the bitter-sweet memories of his mother, now dead, have clung to him particularly at these Games.
For winners and losers, love is always there, from families, friends and strangers alike.
Love from his wife and Olympic gold winner Katerina Emmons was the best heal to Matt Emmons after he repeated his Athens misfortune to blow away gold in the last round of men`s rifle finals.
Colombian weightlifter Oscar Figueroa may never find out how many Chinese shed tears for him when all his attempts failed in the men`s 62kg class finals.
"The grief and helplessness in his eyes became apparent after several failed attempts. Everyone shouted `go, go` and prayed for a miracle," read a posting at sina.com shortly after last Tuesday`s competition.
When Figueroa broke into tears after one last futile attempt, the entire audience felt his pain. "Everyone was heartbroken until his teammate Diego Salazar won a silver," said Si Ren, a spectator who later shared his feelings with thousands of people on the Internet.
Toward the end of the Beijing Games, many Chinese are working out a personal archive listing their own heroes, quotable quotes and inspiring stories.
Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang, who pulled out of the 110-meter race on Monday because of foot injury, was in the netizens` list of top 10 tragic heroes as well as the 10 most attractive men at the Beijing Games, according to 21cn.com.
Liu said he would come back and run even faster after the pullout. His Olympic record of 12.91 seconds, set at Athens in 2004, was not broken by Cuban Dayron Robles in Thursday`s final.
Liu`s tragic farewell from the Games was witnessed by 90,000 audience who had expected him to defend his title, or at least to enter the finals. Among them were four rural workers who helped build the Bird`s Nest, where the track and field events were held.
Su Jian, an artist from the southern Guangdong Province, had financed their trip to Beijing and tickets to the Bird`s Nest, a commitment he made a year ago when they agreed to pose for a portrait.
Su`s painting was sold for 32,000 yuan ($4,570), with which he covered the workers` transportation, ticketing and sightseeing costs in Beijing.
A Beijinger offered them a three-bedroom apartment for free.