Renowned Chinese gymnast Li Ning igniting the cauldron at the opening ceremony in a majestic display, after taking a stunt-like, cable-aided journey around the top of the Bird's Nest.
2 of 31Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Michael Phelps tying Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics by the slimmest of margins, beating out Serbia's Milorad Cavid in the 100-meter butterfly by one hundreth of a second.
3 of 31Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Jason Lezak (left) of the U.S. swimming the fastest anchor leg in the history of the 4x100-meter, enabling the U.S. to set a world record time of 3:08.24 and helping preserve Michael Phelps' march toward eight gold medals.
4 of 31Robert Beck/SI
Jamaica's Usain Bolt breaking his own world record in the 100 meters, running the race in 9.69 seconds despite visibly slowing down to celebrate before crossing the finish line.
5 of 31Peter Read Miller/SI
Bolt winning the 200 meters in 19.30 seconds, besting Michael Johnson's 12-year-old record, which many had considered unbreakable. With the win, Bolt became the first man to complete the 100-200 double since Carl Lewis in 1984. He also helped Jamaica's 4x100 relay team set a world record en route to his third gold medal in China.
6 of 31Robert Beck/SI
The U.S. men's volleyball team huddling in a moment of silence before their first game without coach Hugh McCutcheon, whose father-in-law had been stabbed to death at a popular Beijing tourist site. The team would rally in the wake of tragedy, winning a gold.
7 of 31Al Tielemans/SI
Chinese gymnasts coming under scrutiny for their ages as three were believed to be 14.
8 of 31Al Tielemans/SI
Nastia Liukin becoming the third American woman to win the gold medal in the all-around gymnastics competition.
9 of 31John W. McDonough/SI
The Redeem Team making up for previous failures by U.S. Olympic basketball squads, defeating Spain 118-107 to secure gold for the first time since 2000.
10 of 31John W. McDonough/SI
One night after tying Spitz's record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics, Phelps eclipsed the longstanding mark with his eighth gold medal with a victory in the 4x100m medley relay.
11 of 31KEMPINAIRE/DPPI-SIPA/ICON SMI
American David Neville (bottom) diving across the finish line to give the U.S. a sweep in the 400-meter run. Lashawn Merritt (not pictured) won gold and Jeremy Wariner (Lane 7) the silver.
12 of 31Bill Frakes/SI
Lolo Jones of the U.S. in agony after falling short in her gold-medal bid in the 110-meter hurdles. She had been pulling away from the field but clipped the ninth hurdle and lost her momentum.
13 of 31Robert Beck/SI
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh celebrating after becoming the first team to repeat as gold medalists in beach volleyball.
14 of 31John W. McDonough/SI
Liu Xiang walking off the track, unable to run in the 110-meter hurdles because of a nagging injury. His pullout sank the spirits of the 1.3 billion Chinese natives whose hopes he had carried.
15 of 31Simon Bruty/SI
Carli Lloyd's (11) striking in the extra time to send the U.S. soccer team to a surprising upset of Brazil in the gold medal match.
16 of 31John Biever/SI
Dara Torres losing gold by an agonizingly slim margin in the 50-meter freestyle. At the tender age of 41, Torres was outtouched by German sprint star Britta Steffen.
17 of 31Bob Rosato/SI
The U.S. women's basketball team winning its fourth consecutive gold medal while running its winning streak in the Olympics to 33 games.
18 of 31John Biever/SI
Yukiko Ueno spiriting Japan to a historic gold medal victory, hurling the last of her incredible 413 pitches over three days to send the heavily favored U.S. team to its first defeat in 22 Olympic games.
19 of 31Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva clearing 5.05 meters, setting her 24th career pole vault world record.
20 of 31Al Tielemans/SI
World-renowned striker Lionel Messi helping Argentina to a second straight Olympic gold, setting up the lone goal in his country's 1-0 victory over Nigeria.
21 of 31Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images
Rafael Nadal following up his French Open and Wimbledon titles from earlier this year with an Olympic gold medal. Incidentally, one day later, Nadal overtook Roger Federer atop the ATP rankings.
22 of 31John Biever/SI
U.S. swimmer Eric Shanteau swimming in the men's 200-meter breaststroke after being told by his doctors a week before the U.S. trials that he had testicular cancer.
23 of 31AP
A nightmarish day for the U.S. track team, during which both the men's and women's 4x100m relay teams bungled baton handoffs.
24 of 31Peter Read Miller/SI
The U.S. women didn't learn from the U.S. men's relay mistake earlier in the day, calling into question the program's leadership.
25 of 31Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Roger Federer finding a bit of sunshine in a turbulent season by winning a gold medal in doubles, with Stanislas Wawrinka.
26 of 31Peter Read Miller/SI
Bryan Clay joining the likes of Bruce Jenner and Jim Thorpe as Olympic decathlon champions in an event that an American has won 12 times in 22 Olympics but only twice since 1976.
27 of 31John Biever/SI
Chinese diver Guo Jingjing adding two more gold medals to her collection, becoming the most decorated female diver in Olympic history.
28 of 31John W. McDonough/SI
American fencers (from left) Sada Jacobsen, Mariel Zagunis and Becca Ward earning an impressive sweep in the individual sabre.
29 of 31Simon Bruty/SI
Waseelah Saad competing as the first female sprinter from Yemen. She ran while wearing a hijab.
30 of 31Al Tielemans/SI
Danielle de Bruijn of the Dutch water polo squad scoreing seven of the Netherlands' nine goals against the U.S.
31 of 31Al Tielemans/SI
Sasha Artemev's closing performance on the pommel horse, which helped the U.S. win the bronze in team competition, despite the absence of Olympic veterans Paul and Morgan Hamm.
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