24 August : Beijing tonight shimmered with all its splendour to drop curtains on a magnificent Olympic Games, raising the bar to a dizzy height that might prove difficult for subsequent hosts London to emulate.
The 16-day razzmatazz got a befitting signing off and when London Mayor Boris Johnson was handed over the Olympic flag by his Beijing counterpart Guo Jinlong, the onus was passed on to the British capital to match in 2012, if bettering is impossible, the benchmark set in Beijing. From organisational point of view, Beijing dished out a simply flawless Olympics to silence its malevolent critics, who cribbed about pollution, water contamination, traffic, food and anything and everything.
China’s might also found an expression in the medal tally with the hosts leading the chart, miles ahead of its American and Russian counterparts in terms of gold medals. India too had reasons to cherish the event as their Beijing campaign yielded an unprecedented three individual medals.
At the end of 16 days of intense, no-holds-barred rivalry among the best in the business for global bragging rights in 302 events, Beijing anointed two sports icons in American bionic aqua man Michael Phelps and Jamaican Flying Machine Usain Bolt.
Phelps ruled the pool and sunk every existing record to swim into history books while the brash, cocky Bolt left the world behind to emerged as the fastest man on earth and still could afford the time to look back and mock at lesser mortals.
And for those who doubted sport’s ability to dissolve border and bury hostility, the sight of Georgian and Russian athletes forgetting the political turmoil back home and hugging each other was an eye opener.
If the 8th August opening ceremony was a promise made, tonight’s closing ceremony was fulfillment of the same promise as Beijing had a night to remember.The pre-ceremony was a fun-filled affair with Fuwa, the mascot, as the central theme.
In a way, the humorous segment signalled lowering of the guard and letting down of the hair at the end of fortnight long intense competition.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge made an appearance after scintillating pyrotechnics dazzled the Bird’s Nest.
Drum players then took the centre stage and it was surreal to see some 200 bouncing and flying men run and roll over the stadium.Next entered the flag bearers of the 204 participating nations, with the Indian tri-colour in Vijender’s able hands, the same fists which earned his country its first boxing medal in the greatest sporting extravaganza.
Marathon victory ceremony intercepted the event, on the other side of which organising committee President Liu Qi and Rogge addressed the huge gathering before the Olympic flag was hoisted and Olympic hymns recited.
Mayors of Beijing and London entered the stage for the flag handover ceremony, which was followed by an eight-minute cultural performance heralding the start of the countdown to the London Games.
This segment featured British icons, including soccer star David Beckham, singing sensation Leona Lewis and legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
After Lewis and Page left the stage, Beckham appeared along with a violinist, a cellist and a child who handed the ball to the former England captain, whose trademark cross vanished into the sea of athletes.
Finally, the flame was extinguished but fireworks painted numerous pictures on Beijing’s night sky and six singers passionately lent their voice for "Beijing, Beijing, I love Beijing", followed by a spectacular circle dance before the razzmatazz came to a glorious end.