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China up, no one down

A closing ceremony always brings with it a sense of emptiness, accentuated by the fact that most of the athletes have left for their homes, and the stadiums — which had become the hubs of many a success stories and disappointments — have fallen silent after a fortnight of frenetic activity. Ajai Masand reports. China's performance in Asian Games

india Updated: Nov 28, 2010 01:29 IST
Ajai Masand

A closing ceremony always brings with it a sense of emptiness, accentuated by the fact that most of the athletes have left for their homes, and the stadiums — which had become the hubs of many a success stories and disappointments — have fallen silent after a fortnight of frenetic activity.

But China, known for its grand planning and execution, ensured that there was joy and enthusiasm all over, with a ceremony no less than the opening in grandeur. Once again the Haixinsha Island, which welcomed more than 10,000 athletes from 42 countries on November 12, came alive and all the emptiness was forgotten as dusk fell.

All roads, it seemed, led to the stadium, built especially for the opening and closing ceremonies. It was unique in a way that never before in the history of the continental games has the opening and closing ceremonies taken place outside the main stadium.

But the Chinese are known for their innovativeness. Be it the swank metro-lines, the skyward-looking architectural marvels, the state-of-the-art stadia and, to top it all, the hospitality of the volunteers. Students drawn from the Guangzhou Higher Education Centre — the biggest learning hub in the province — and many more colleges, were polite and helpful to the point that they would go out of the way to assist one and all, despite the language barrier.

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that they were the real heroes of the Games. China's other heroes — athletes — were clinching medals with clinical precision inside sporting arenas, while the ever-smiling volunteers were 'clinching' hearts outside. As curtains rung down on the Games with an amazing display of pyrotechnics, lights, new-age gizmos — which China probably 'invented' for the closing ceremony — the focus was once again on the lifeline of the mammoth city, Pearl River, the waterway which has one of the most technologically advanced bridges in the world, spanning seven-and-a-half km and standing on just three towers on each side.

Colourful fountains flashed out of nowhere, Roman candles and many more of those 38,003 innovative fireworks worked magic in the sky and ship-shaped fountains, with a few hundred fountain heads, sprayed water 40 metres into the sky. And with more than 30 types of costumes and 11,000 props, it was a ceremony that paled even the grandest of shows on earth.

A crescent moon-like ship with singing children on board was gently lowered onto the waterway, even as 1,000 chorus singers with stars in hand entered the chorus arena.

An art performance was also dedicated to India, with singers Tanya Gupta and Ravi Tripati especially flown from India, enthralling the audience as River Ganga appeared on the sail-shaped screen followed by Indian architecture, including the Taj Mahal.

World record