Mission accomplished for Team China
Beijing - China finishes the 2008 Beijing Games sitting proudly on top of the medals table with a final tally of 51 gold, 21 silver and 28 bronze.
While China's 100-medal total is surpassed by the United States, which won 110, of which 36 were gold, the host nation can rightly look back on an Olympic Games in which it met its sporting expectations.
This is the first time in 72 years that a country besides the US or Soviet Union has claimed the most gold medals at a Summer Games and signals a future where China looks like being the world's sporting superpower.
It has been a meteoric rise for China, which finished second in the 2004 Athens Olympics table, four golds behind the US tally of 36.
The country only won its first Olympic gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games while at Sydney 2000 they won 28.
It is only the seventh time that a country has achieved 50 or more gold medals. In 1988, the Soviet Union won 55 gold medals and in 1972, they won 50. The huge total they won in 1980 (80) and the 83 the US won four years later are tainted because of huge boycotts of the Games.
In 1908, Britain won 56 medals in London, but only 22 nations participated, while in 1904 in the US, only 12 nations competed as the hosts won 79 medals.
In Beijing, China won more medals than any other nation in gymnastics, diving, badminton table tennis, artistic gymnastics, trampoline, shooting and weightlifting.
Chinese athletes were particularly dominant in diving, where they picked up seven out of a total of eight gold medals and in table tennis, where they won four out of four gold medals and added two silver and two bronze.
They also looked impressive in the gymnastics competition, where Zou Kai won three gold and Yang Wei, Chen Yibing, He Kexin and Li Xiaopeng were all double gold medallists.
The one disappointment they had was in the 110m hurdles, where defending champion Liu Xiang failed to even compete his heats after pulling up injured.
Chinese fans will also not have been too happy with the finish of their basketball team around NBA star Yao Ming, who lost in the quarter-finals.
China also won at least one medal in 26 sports, just one short of the 27 set by the Soviet Union at the boycott-marred 1980 Moscow Games. Overall, the country saw its medal tally rise by almost 59 per cent.
While it is normal that a host country sees its medal tally rise compared to previous Olympics - Greece's medal haul rose 23 per cent in 2004 from four years earlier and 2000 hosts Australia jumped 41 per cent - China's increase is huge and it's ability to maintain this level is not doubted.
"The world has to learn to live with a change of geopolitical nature," said International Olympic President, Jacques Rogge in Beijing, adding that China's sporting success would "last as long as their sports system lasts." (dpa)
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