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Beijing bids farewell to Olympics

india Updated: Aug 25, 2008 01:26 IST
Indraneel Das
Indraneel Das
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

As the human spire rose from the earth, the cauldron was extinguished. The fire slowly faded and soon the Bird Nest was engulfed in darkness. With it came emptiness and the sound of silence inside the behemoth of a structure. The National Stadium, the symbol of Chinese power, quietly settled for life beyond the quadrennial showpiece.

Job well done, Beijing for once was basking in glory.

Forty-three world records, 132 Olympic records and China perched atop the medals tally, the hosts couldn't have asked for more. As the lights ebbed at the Bird’s Nest and the sound ended in staccatos it brought the curtains down on a 16-day celebration of sport that spread over the vast expanse of the cold desert, the grasslands, the coasts, hills and vales of China.

No other force on earth can bring together the world as the five colours of the ring — blue, yellow, black, green, and red (every flag in the world uses at least one colour of the five) - representing Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania uniting 204 nations in what is called the Olympic movement.

Like all good things, even this had to end. Not before some spectacular cultural show showcasing China's diverse ethnicity and century-old history though.

“Harmony, friendship and joy,” the theme of the closing ceremony turned competitors into friends. It also brought the world to its feet. Kudos to China.

Phelps, Bolt electrify Beijing, China atop

Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt electrified the Beijing Olympics, securing their places in Games' lore over 17 days of competition that saw hosts China confirm their arrival as a global sporting power.

America's Phelps amazed at the Water Cube, surpassing fellow US swimmer Mark Spitz's 36-year-old record of seven gold medals at one Games with a eight - seven of them with world record times.

Along the way the unassuming 23-year-old matched and then surged past the record nine career gold medals of Games icons Spitz, Paavo Nurmi, Carl Lewis and Larysa Latynina, taking his career tally to 14 including the six he won in Athens “You can't put it in words what he has done here,” Australian great Grant Hackett said.

Bolt donates $50,000

World's fastest man Usain Bolt has won the hearts and minds of China, this time off the track, when he made a personal donation of $50,000 dollars for children of the earthquake-hit Sichuan Province.

Bolt delivered a cheque to Red Cross Foundation of China on Saturday.

Two children from Sichuan, confined to wheelchairs due to quake-inflicted injuries, presented their paintings to Bolt as gifts.