China emerges as the biggest winner at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games which closed in Sydney Sunday night.
The Chinese Olympic Delegation won a total of 28 gold, 16 silver, 15 bronze medals in the 16 days of competition, ranking third in the final medal standings, behind the US with 39 golds, 25 silvers and 33 bronzes and Russia, 32-28-28.
Forty-nine countries and regions won at least one gold and 70 won at least a medal.
Chinese athletes made Olympic history for the world's most populous nation by winning the most gold medals and also most medals, 59, ever at the Olympic Games since 1984.
In 1984 in Los Angeles, China won 15 golds, eight silvers and nine bronzes. In 1988 in Seoul the Chinese athletes won only five golds, 11 silvers and 12 bronzes. In 1992 in Barcelona they won 16 golds, 22 silvers and 16 bronzes and four years ago in Atlanta they took home 16 golds, 22 silvers and 12 bronzes.
Chinese athletes have a total of 80 golds, 79 silvers and 64 bronzes in five Olympics.
Before coming to Sydney, China were aiming only for a modest target of equalling last Games' 16 gold medals, based on the Chinese athletes' international performances in the past four years. The team was further struck with blow after 27 athletes had to skip the Sydney trip after being found suspicious of drug-taking.
Maybe because of that, not a singles case of drug-taking violence was found in the Chinese delegation, further proving that the Chinese sports authority is leading the world's anti-drug campaign in sports.
But thanks to the Chinese athletes' spectacular performance and never-say-die spirit in the world's premier sporting gala, China achieved unprecedented Olympic success in Sydney, as the Chinese anthem was played 28 times Down Under.
Also three Chinese athletes broke eight world records for 12 tiles. Six athletes set 11 Olympic records and one created an Olympic best and one equalled one Olympic record.
Local Chinese could walk out of the gymnasiums with full pride as their countrymen were sweeping aside challenge in badminton, table tennis, diving, gymnastics and weightlifting.
Table tennis players completed an Olympic history by sweeping all four gold medals in two consecutive Olympic Games. Wang Nan consolidated her world No 1 status by winning both the women's singles and doubles titles, a feat achieved only by her retired teammate Deng Yaping.
World No 1 man player Kong Linghui became only the third player to complete a table tennis grand slam by winning the World Championships, the World Cup and the Olympic singles titles. Teammate Liu Guoliang achieved the feat four years ago, and it is historical that country produces two grand slam winners within a decade. The first grand slam winner was Jan-Ove Waldner of Sweden.
China has a such an in-depth table tennis power that they also won three silvers and one bronze in Sydney.
Badminton is another sport China dominated. Coming home empty-handed at the Barcelona Games and winning only one four years ago, the Chinese shuttlers roared to four gold medals this time, in the mixed doubles, men's and women's singles and women's doubles.
If the women's singles and doubles titles were expected, the golds for the mixed doubles and men's singles were surprising to most pundits.
Chinese women weightlifters continued their rule in the event, sweeping golds in all four body weight classes they entered. If not for the International Olympic Committee's regulation that one country or region can only enter athletes in four of seven classes, the Chinese strong women, holding 18 of 21 world records, would have swept all seven golds.
Divers were given a scare on the opening two days when they lost two synchronized titles and the women's 10m platform title, the event they had been winning at every Olympics since 1984.
But they came back strongly taking all five remaining gold medals. Twenty-three-year-old legend Fu Mingxia and Xiong Ni both came out of retirement and successfully defended their Olympic titles, in the women's and men's 3m springboards. Fu became the first woman diver to win golds at three consecutive Olympics and Xiong was the fist diver to win medals at four Olympics.
The Chinese men gymnasts realized their long-cherished dream of winning the Olympic team title. They had been waiting for the moment for the last 10 years after winning five World Championships titles. The men's parallel bars and women's beam titles, also first time at the Olympics, were later added to the team success.
Sharpshooting contributed three gold medals to the Chinese collection. Successful title defence by Yang Ling and surprising golds by Cai Yalin and Tao Luna made China the winningest nation and established it as the leading shooting nation in the world.
Chinese women judokas won two golds and men's weightlifting, women's race walking and women's taekwondo each added one.
Among the 27 athletes winning gold medals here, 25 were making their Olympic debut.
And the Olympic debutante the Chinese women's hockey team surprised the fans and the foes. Barely making the Sydney Games, the team, boasting of never-say-die spirit and the Great Wall of defence, defeated world champions and runners-up en route to a fifth-place finish in the 12-team competition.
When celebrating the success, one should never neglect that among the 24 of 28 sports the Chinese athletes were taking part in Sydney, they won gold medals only in nine sports. In some sports such as table tennis, weightlifting and badminton, the road to more future success is limited unless the International Olympic Committee decides to add more events.
In track and field and swimming in which 78 gold medals constituting a quarter of total Olympic medal events, China won a single gold, reflecting that China is still lagging behind the world in sports overall.
Women's football, softball and volleyball teams, all silver-medallists four years ago in Atlanta, this time impressed not with their victories, but with the fact they are aging and lack of young players. The softball team finished fourth, volleyball team fifth, and the soccer team failed to enter final four.
Yuan Weimin, chef-de-mission of the Chinese delegation, said last Saturday the Chinese athletes are aiming for the 2004 Olympics right after they step down from the winning podium.
(China Daily 10/01/2000)