Beijing, Aug 24 (UNI) China signed off a spectacular Olympic Games with a dazzling closing ceremony that turned the Bird's Nest into a grand stage for a party.
For a country which won its first gold medal just two decades ago to topping the tally at home, China could not have had a better reason to celebrate and rejoice. They did it with a finale quite different from the opening of the Games two weeks ago.
For India, who finished on the leaderboard among the top fifty nations for the first time, bronze medal winner boxer Vijender Kumar proudly carried the tri-colour as he led the small contingent into the stadium.
If the opening ceremony was choreophraphed, the closing was unrehearsed with just about half the participants at under 7,000 performers. Once again Zhang Yimou, showed he was not just a good filmmaker but a great organiser of a mass performance.
None of the 15,000 people, who were there at the opening ceremony, were on show tonight. It was a totally new star cast.
But martial arts and China cannot be too far apart. So, there was another kungfu display, featuring 350 practitioners from a local martial arts school, in addition to 60 Chinese violin players from the Jiangsu province.
Elements of southwestern China's Yunnan culture were also showcased. China promised a happy atmosphere and that's what the full crowd at the Bird's Nest were treated to.
There was plenty of music. The highlight was world-famous Spanish tenor Placido Domingo taking the stage in a duet with Chinese soprano star Song Zuying.
There was a brilliant crossover of cultures after the official handover of the Games flag to the city of London.
London's symbolic red double-decker bus was driven around the Bird's Nest. When it slowed down at a bus stop, the three groups of dancers surrounded the double-decker.
The bus's top half then folded down to show a hedge cut into shapes of the London skyline such as Tower Bridge, Battersea Power Station and the Houses of Parliament.
English pop singer Leona Lewis emerged from the roof to sing a song and then guitarist Page appeared to perform with Lewis, a new version of Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love.' As the song neared its end, football icon and former England captain David Beckham stood on a lift with an English girl and kicked a football into the crowd of spectators in the stadium.
And that switched everyone's attention to the handover party outside Buckingham Palace.
While London may have stolen the limelight for a brief eight minutes with its light, fun show, the day belonged to China.
If the Beijing Olympics was intended to give a new image for a nation that has not been trusted by the world, the Games indeed met the purpose.
The Chinese never had it so good and they did not party to end, they wanted it to continue as long as possible but as the old adage goes, 'every good thing comes to end' and so was the case with these Games.
Beijing has raised the bar and it is going to be a tough pole vault act for London when it hosts the Olympics in 2012.
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