There is no doubt that China, host of the 2008 Olympics, has pulled off a major coup in staging the most lavish and spectacular Games to date. It is clear that the country has arrived as a major world power. Many things could have gone wrong, but nothing did, and even a dismal human rights record and the long occupation of Tibet tended to diminish in the dazzle of success. For instance, £21 million has been pumped into British cycling in the past four years, providing the squad with the best of everything. It showed in a pot of gold. Australia, with less than half the population of South Africa, came sixth with a haul of 46 medals, 14 of them gold. This country, with a solitary silver medal, had its worst Olympics since Berlin in 1936 and came 71st in the log, only three places from the bottom.