This paper investigates the elite sport legacies of hosting the Summer Olympics for China (Beijing 2008) and Australia (Sydney 2000). The classic organizational life cycle approach provides the conceptual framework for this retroductive study. The data for both cases are sourced from official publications, academic research, and documents from various government departments and organizations. Additional data are drawn from three semi-structured interviews with key Chinese stakeholders. The analysis provides clear evidence that governments and their stakeholders use the opportunities afforded by a home Olympics to boost Olympic performance. China and Australia experienced a similar four-phase pattern of elite sport legacy life cycle: start-up, growth, maintenance, and decline. Both countries also shared many similar policy and management factors throughout each stage. An increased awareness of the sequential nature of elite sport legacy can help Olympic host countries make a more informed decision about their long-term strategies for elite sport success.