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'Best ever' Asian Games lowers curtain

Updated: 2010-11-27 21:53
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GUANGZHOU - The largest ever Asian Games lowered its curtain in a festive closing ceremony on Saturday night as host China showed its overwhelming prowess by sweeping 199 gold medals.

'Best ever' Asian Games lowers curtain
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia, hails the Guangzhou Asiad "a huge success" and "the best ever" in history at the Haixinsha Island in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, on Nov. 27, 2010.  [Photo/Xinhua]

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia, hailed the Guangzhou Asiad "a huge success" and "the best ever" in history.

China, which also won 119 silver and 98 bronze, topped the table for the eighth straight time, smashing its best gold tally of 183, set in the 1990 Beijing Games.

Thirty-six out of the 45 participating teams medaled in the 16-day games, in which South Korea garnered 232 medals including 76 gold, beating Japan into a distant third with 48 gold among 216 medals.

After Beijing hosted the Olympics and Shanghai the World Expo, Guangzhou seized the Asian Games as an opportunity to showcase its tradition and modernity to the world.

China's third largest city invested a staggering 120 billion yuan (about 17.9 billion U.S. dollars) in projects including stadiums, roads and subway lines.

Different from the water-themed opening ceremony which paid tribute to the city's seafaring heritage, the finale was more like a singing and dancing gala.

Famous Asian artists such as China's Tang Can, India's Gupta Tanya and Rave Tripthi, Japan's Ryoko Nakano, Kazakhstan's Mayra Kerei performed folk songs of their origin.

The sail-shaped huge LED screen in the background interacted with the performance while changing lights helped transform the field of play into starry and blue sky, representative cultural and natural landscape of Asia, from which athletes and officials from all around the continent could found their familiar rhythm.

Hours before the closing ceremony, the Chinese women's volleyball team rallied from two sets down to beat South Korea to win the last gold of the Games.

Thirty-five Olympic gold medalists, including hurdler Liu Xiang and badminton players Lin Dan, emerged the brightest stars among the 1,454-member Chinese delegation.

With 2012 London Olympics approaching, China largely used the Asian Games as an opportunity for young aspiring athletes to get international competition experience.

Three world records were set in weightlifting and archery, together with 12 new Asian records in swimming and cycling.

Chinese lifter Li Ping broke the snatch and total world records in the women's 53kg weightlifting, while South Korea's Kim Woo-Jin garnered 1,387 points to beat the 144 arrows qualification round world mark in the men's archery.

South Korean super star Park Tae-hwan, MVP in last games, completed a golden triple in the pool by winning the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle. He also set a new Asian record over 200m.

Lin Dan, or "Super Dan", snatched the only title missing from his collection when he beat Malaysia's world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei in the men's singles final.

Liu Xiang stated his full recovery from a stunning Beijing Olympics exit by winning the men's 110m hurdles gold in a new Asian record of 13.09 seconds.

The limelight also fell on those who touched hearts and never say quit.

Hong Kong cyclist Wong Wan Yiu claimed the silver despite a rib injury sustained in an early crash. Equestrian Kim Kyun-Sub from South Korea realized his dream of winning gold to honor his uncle Kim Hyung Chil, who was killed at last Asian Games when his horse threw and crushed him.

The South Korea-Japan rivalry was one of the selling points of the games as China has already been a runaway leader for two decades. South Korea outperformed the arch rival for the fourth consecutive times by winning 28 more gold.

Bangladesh and Macao of China were thrilled about their first ever Asian Games gold while Bhutan is happy for just being there.

"We are very proud to be here, we don't have to win any medals, just to participate is a big thing for a country like Bhutan," said Tshewang Nidup, Bhutan's chef-de-mission.

The war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq concluded their campaigns by each winning three medals and finishing 31st and 32nd on the tally.

The otherwise perfect Games were tainted by two doping cases.

Judoka Shokir Muminov and wrestler Jakhongir Muminov, both from Uzbekistan, tested positive for the same banned stimulant, Methylhexaneamine.

The two athletes are not related and there was "no evidence" to prove the systematic use of drugs by Uzbek athletes, according to OCA medical committee chairman Dr. Mani Jegathesan.

The Guangzhou Games had the most sports ever contested in the games' 59-year history, as it included 28 Olympic sports and 14 non-Olympic which featured 476 events.

The games witnessed the debuts of cricket, dance sport, dragon boat, roller sport and go chess.

The Asiad sports are set to be reduced as next host Incheon has proposed cutting sports such as cricket and dance in response to the OCA's decision to downsize the games.

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