Among all the scoring controversy and the theories of the Chinese getting unfair results skewed to help them win, there's one star not on the China team that the Beijing officials wanted—no—needed to win: Michael Phelps.
Everything in these Olympics has been about "Westernizing" the culture. The whole area of the games (geographically) was to create a good, or even great, legacy for Olympic history and China's history overall.
China has pulled out all the stops to reduce the presence of propaganda and politics at these games. They have limited their philosophical and political views and judgments of the rest of the world, inviting all with open arms to the Games in Beijing.
They needed the legacy of Phelps' record eight gold medals. They were rooting more than the millions of fans across the USA and the rest of the world. Phelps single handedly circumvented most gripes of the heat, pollution, and anything else that could possibly have been griped about.
The back story, for those of you who might not know, is that Michael Phelps, 23, of the United States of America won eight Olympic gold medals this past week in Beijing, besting Mark Spitz's 1972 record of seven.
It's never been done before and honestly it's most likely an athletic feat I'll never see repeated in my lifetime. This is the one thing that Bejing officials wanted more than a Chinese medal race win.
Thank you, Michael Phelps, for making these games completely worth watching. The performances of Dara Torres and Nastia Luikin have made for good stories, too. Still, nothing compares to the amazement you accomplished, and the legacy that you will leave behind.