Posted August. 25, 2008 08:29,
The Beijing Summer Olympics came to an end yesterday with Korea recording its best performance in history.
The closing ceremony at the Beijing National Stadium concluded the grand event, with Korea securing seventh in the medal count with 13 gold, 10 silver and eight bronze medals.
China topped the medal count for the first time in Olympic history with 51 golds, 21 silvers and 28 bronzes. The United States, which finished first in the Athens Olympics four years ago, finished a distant second with 36 golds, 38 silvers and 36 bronzes.
Korea did better than its goal of at least 10 golds and a top-10 finish, with its 13 golds the best in its Olympic history. The country had won 12 each in Seoul (1988) and Barcelona (1992). Kim Jeong-haeng, the leader of the Korean athlete delegation, said, What made this years event significant was that we won the most number of medals outside home ground.
The first to strike gold was judoka Choi Min-ho (60 kilograms), who was soon followed by swimming sensation Park Tae-hwan in the mens 400-m freestyle and the men`s and women`s archery teams.
Toward the end of the Games, Korean fans rejoiced over their country`s golds in baseball and taekwondo.
The golds in swimming and baseball were Korea`s first in the two events. While Korean taekwondo competitors solidified their country`s dominance in the sport by going four for four in golds, Korean archers failed to win individual golds despite being heavily favored.
Little progress was made in track and field, and no medals were won in wrestling, a sport in which Korea has been traditionally strong. Weightlifting and badminton, however, picked up the slack for Korea.
At the closing ceremony, 10,500 athletes from 204 countries gathered while listening to the Olympic theme song You and Me sung by Chinese soprano Song Zuying and Spanish tenor Placido Domingo.
While the song filled the stadium, 104 dancers from Yunnan Province, home to many ethnic groups, staged a unique dance performance with a strong ethnic hue. In addition, 350 Shaolin monks put on a kung fu demonstration.
Chinas state-run media Xinhua News Agency said, The Beijing Games left a powerful impression on the world and came to an end with a spectacular festival.