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Games declared closed at spectacular ceremony

india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 08:37 IST
Highlight Story

At a spectacular closing ceremony, which was sight to behold at the Al-Khalifa Stadium, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), declared the 15th Asian Games closed in Doha on Friday night.

Amid a riot of colour, tradition and the enactment of Arab region's most loved literary works like Alibaba and 40 thieves, the 45-nation 15-day competition ended.

China won 316 medals at a games in which 8,050 athletes took part. The country was unchallenged throughout the games, winning 165 gold, 88 silver and 63 bronze medals.

India finished eighth with 10 gold, 18 silver and 26 bronze for a tally of 54.

Thousands of people streamed into the stadium for the closing ceremony at which all Qataris said "thank you" and farewell to the athletes, officials and spectators who made the 'Games of your Life' memorable.

People from the 45 countries and regions that took part strode eagerly through the gates to get to the show in good time. Accompanied by a dramatic, full orchestral score the most memorable sporting moments of the games were once more shown to a responsive and appreciative audience.

As the clock ticked towards the hour, the crowd was invited to welcome The Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Kalifa Al-Thani, who took his seat with members of his family and other dignitaries, ready for one last, show-stopping spectacle.

The closing ceremony celebrated Arabian culture.

Names like Liu Xiang, Park Tae Wwan, Shami and, Bilal, have dominated the attention. Now, in the time of the 'One Thousand and One Nights', it was the turn of Ali Baba, Aladdin, Sinbad; Scheherazade.

Though darkness descended on Doha, it was anything but a black night. Shimmering costumes of purple, yellow, blue, red and green; indeed, every colour imaginable, hung on the rails as they showed to the world.

Backstage, a group of children from the Ministry of Education Services who enacted little genies in the show generate a playground atmosphere. Some played with a football - being Bilal no doubt - others ran excitedly, girls compared costumes.

Towards the end of the ceremony, a cast from the host city of the 16th Asian Games, Guangzhou in China, made a brief hand-over section - a teaser of things to come at the 2010 games.

Quite aptly, China, the next games' host, finished first in Doha. By the close of the games, China had won its 990th gold medal in the games' history, and the continental sporting superpower is set to break the 1,000 mark in Guangzhou.

South Korea, which trailed second-placed Japan in the first few days of the 15-day extravaganza, eventually finished second overall with 193 medals that comprised 58 gold, 53 silver and 82 bronze medals.

Japan was third, having won 50 gold, 71 silver and 77 bronze for a final tally of 198 medals.

South Korean swimmer Park Tae Hwan was named as the Most Valuable Athlete of the games, while ace Indian pistol shooter Jaspal Rana, who won three gold and one silver, was third.

Park, who clinched three gold medals in the men's 200 metres, 400m and 1,500m freestyle races and also set up two Asian records, received 231 votes from journalists covering the games for the honour. The prize comprised a trophy, a LCD TV and a $50,000 cheque.

Chinese gymnast Yang Wei was second with 132 and Rana third with 129 votes.

The games, which were launched in 1951 in New Delhi and held every four years, have grown into the second largest multi-sport event after the summer Olympics.

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