The curtain came down on the 2008 Olympic Games yesterday but not before the day had thrown up some pleasant surprises.
A country that has produced some great long-distance runners had to wait for Beijing to win its first marathon gold. Samuel Wanjiru did that honor for Kenya, and in Olympic record time too.
China was expected to lead the gold medal tally, and it did, taking 51 of them to end up with a total medals' tally with the wonderful round figure of 100. China's gold haul is the biggest after the erstwhile Soviet Union's 55 gold medals in Seoul 1988.
Though the US was second on the gold tally, the first time it slipped from the top since 1992, it beat its own record of total number of medals winning 110 medals.
The 17-day Beijing Games saw 43 world records and more than 120 Olympic records shattered.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was pleased with the Games and the hosts, with IOC President Jacques Rogge saying at the closing ceremony: "Thank you to the people of China, to all the wonderful volunteers and to BOCOG (Beijing Games organizing committee)."
He said the world will cherish the 17 glorious days of the Games "forever".
China's central leadership congratulated the country's athletes for their "achievement". The Communist Party of China's (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council sent a joint congratulatory message that said: "The motherland and the people feel proud of you. We extend warm congratulations and heartfelt compliments to you, who have won immense glory for your country and people."
It said the Chinese sports delegation has "achieved a major historic breakthrough," "written a new chapter of China's sports development," and "made significant contributions to the hosting of a high-standard and unique Olympic Games in Beijing".
"The Chinese delegation has demonstrated the Olympic spirit both on and off the field, showing China's unyielding spirit, solidarity and pursuit of peace and progress," the message said.
But the celebration is not China's alone. Every country that took part in the Games had reason to rejoice, for many a country won its first Olympic medal in Beijing
Britain's athletes gave the country a lot to cheer about before hosting the 2012 Games. Britain's gold haul and its overall position on the medals' tally were the best in a century.
（英语点津 Helen 编辑）
Brendan joined The China Daily in 2007 as a language polisher in the Language Tips Department, where he writes a regular column for Chinese English Language learners, reads audio news for listeners and anchors the weekly video news in addition to assisting with on location stories. Elsewhere he writes Op’Ed pieces with a China focus that feature in the Daily’s Website opinion section.
He received his B.A. and Post Grad Dip from Curtin University in 1997 and his Masters in Community Development and Management from Charles Darwin University in 2003. He has taught in Japan, England, Australia and most recently China. His articles have featured in the Bangkok Post, The Taipei Times, The Asia News Network and in-flight magazines.