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14th Asiad Draws Down Curtain, China Pockets in 150 Golds
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The 14th Asian Games officially ended with a closing ceremony at the Asiad Main Stadium on Monday evening, with the baton handed over to Doha, Qatar for the 2006 Games. Asian sporting powerhouse China surpassed expectations, achieving the goal of finishing first in the medals table with 150 golds, 84 silvers and 74 bronzes.

The 14th Pusan Asian Games, Asia's first sports festival of the new millennium, ended with a bang on Monday evening in an 2 hour closing ceremony at the Main Stadium with the theme of "homecoming".

President of the Busan Asian Games Organizing Committee Chung Soon-Taek delivered his closing remarks:

"I declare the Asian Games closed and in accordance with the tradition, I call upon the youth of Asia to assemble in four years in Doha, Qatar, to celebrate the Asian Games there in accordance with the ideals of the Olympic Council of Asia. May the youth of Asia ever celebrate the Asian Games in the spirit of brotherhood and for the good of humanity."

In the closing ceremony, the Asian Games' flag and torch, and the flag of the Olympic Council of Asia, were transferred to the president of the 2006 Doha Asian Games Organizing Committee.

After taking 150 golds to top the medal table at the games, China proved they are still the dominant force in Asian sports. And Chinese swimmer Xu Yanwei turned out to be the most crowned athletes in the games. She won five golds altogether.

Host South Korea also had a strong showing, reaping 96 gold medals and placing

second in the overall medal standings. They beat neighbors Japan for the second straight Asiad.

Despite winning 44 golds to South Korea's 96, Japan emerged as the best performer in the games. Kitajima Kosuke, Japan's golden boy, posted a world record of 2 minutes 9.97 seconds in the 200m backstroke swimming event, which earned him the honor as the games' most valuable player.

The list of title-winning delegations was expanded, as 25 countries and regions stuck gold in the games against 23 in Bangkok in 1998.

What Busan Asiad Means for China?

China sent a strong contingent of more than 900 athletes to Busan. Compared with the medal hunt, the delegation claims they care more about training young athletes through international competitions.

The delegation's deputy head Li Furong says they achieved this goal.

"85 percent of our athletes are attending their first ever major international sports meet. They stood the pressure. I'm happy they made very good achievements."

Li Furong particularly mentioned a number of teenagers, who pocketed several gold medals, such as gymnast Zhang Nan, swimmers Xu Yanwei and Wupeng. He says they are among the main hopefuls for the 2004 Olympic Games. So the decision mainly to send younger athletes has paid off.

Also paid off is the hiring of foreign coaches and the introduction of advanced training techniques.

Another official of the Chinese delegation, Yang Shu'an says this is also partly the reason for China's victory in Busan.

"The Chinese delegation has invited a total of nine coaches from other countries. They helped a lot in improving our level and competition results."

Yang Shu'an cites the Chinese women's hockey team as an example. Directed by a South Korean head coach, the team has made steady improvements in training and competitions. This time in Basan, they won the title.

But Busan is not just remembered for successes. It also witnessed defeats of some Chinese competitors, including world and Olympic champions. In table tennis, China lost some titles they have long kept; in badminton, China lost in all men's events. China indeed ranks first in swimming and in track and field, but few of its champions in Basan gave world class performances. .

Deputy head of the Chinese delegation Li Furong says they will sum their lessons in Busan, and prepare for the next Olympics.

(People's Daily October 15, 2002)

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