Magical China reach new high

Magical China reach new high

Hosts' record medal haul emphasises their total dominance

Perfection is awe-inspiring. Slightly less than that means there is still room for improvement. And that is exactly what the Chinese were looking at after their all-conquering run ended at 199 gold medals on Saturday.

On the concluding day of the Games, China had chances to reach two hundred from their overnight tally of 197, with their athletes featuring in the men’s and women’s marathon, sepak takraw and women’s volleyball. But they could win only two on the day, through women’s marathon and volleyball, as the country fell tantalizingly short of the magical figure.

Still, China were miles ahead of the rest of the continent. South Korea, the second-placed team, were 123 gold medals behind at 76. In fact, all the other nations put together won 278 gold medals, showing how dominant the Chinese are in the continent -- indeed in the world itself, looking at the way they sealed the top spot at the last Olympic Games.

“China has ranked first eight times at the Asian Games now. It shows the high competitiveness of the Chinese people, our economic strength and sports management and facilities we provide,” said Cai Jiadong, secretary-general of the Chinese contingent.

A big share of China’s gold medals came from swimming and shooting -- 24 and 21 respectively. They won all the seven titles in table tennis, ten in rowing, ten in diving, eight in weightlifting and nine in wushu. The introduction of four new sports also helped the Chinese, with the hosts sweeping all the ten gold medals at stake in dance sport and three in dragon boat racing. They did suffer a few blows in other arenas. Lack of success in football still hurts while in athletics, despite winning 13 gold medals -- one short of their Doha tally -- many chinks were visible in their armour.

Perhaps referring to it, Cai said other countries were improving. “We cannot say that it is all about China. Other countries too have made progress. India and Korea have made rapid development in sports.

China’s performance will be the model for other countries,” he hoped.China were also using these Games as a preparatory exercise for the next Olympic Games, with the hope that the stars spotted here could be groomed with London 2012 in mind. Cai said in that respect, it wasn’t a great show.

“Of the gold medals we obtained, 74 are from non-Olympic sports. In Olympic events, China performed well in some, while we weren’t up to the mark in others.  The situation seems not so optimistic for our preparation for the London 2012 Olympics,” he said.

Call it pessimism or understatement, the message was quite clear -- China is not ready to relax. And that is not good news for the rest of Asia!

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