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Commentary: 40 days that made history
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21:45, September 17, 2008

When the flame of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games was extinguished on Wednesday night, it not only brought down the curtain on the 12-day sports gala for the world's elite athletes with disabilities, but also signified the formal ending of an "Olympic season" for the host nation.

It is beyond doubt that this spectacular and glorious season, lasting exactly 40 days since the grand opening of the Beijing Olympic Games on the evening of Aug. 8, will live long in human history -- not just for being part of it, but for making it, in many ways.

Hundreds of new records, unprecedented participation and media attention, personal feats of Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Oscar Pistorius -- all these made Games history and joined the ranks of perpetual greatness. But there were more historic breakthroughs achieved out of the Games venues.

The Games created milestones for the International Olympic and Paralympic Movements. By coming to this most populous and fastest-developing country in the world, the 112-year-old modern Olympics won the hearts of 1.3 billion people, who warmly embraced the Games' spirit of "solidarity, peace and friendship."

And for the first time in its 48-year history, the Paralympics saw an Olympic host pledge "Two Games with Equal Splendor" and go all out for "transcendence, integration and equality" for the disabled.

The Games made the Chinese people think differently. Having bid for the Games to fulfil a century-old dream, they toiled for seven years and looked over every details to ensure the Games' complete success. But when the Games did end in tremendous success, they found that it was not the outcome, but the process that brought them the most pride and confidence.

After going through a chain of natural disasters and unexpected disturbances since the beginning of the year, the Chinese have come to realize that there is no difficulty they can't overcome as long as they stand united and have faith in themselves. They have also learnt to accept scrutiny by the outside world and stay cool in the face of praises or censures.

And the Games refreshed China's image and role in the world. China "stormed to world centre stage" with the hosting of the Games, some international media observed, and the presence of more than 200 foreign leaders and dignitaries at the Games' opening and closing ceremonies testified to that perception.

For a country which a century ago was still badly colonized by world powers, and remained in political turmoil and came to the verge of economic breakdown just three decades back, the success of the Games will sure consolidate its determination to stick to the correct development path of reform and opening up, and be a more responsible and contributing member of the international community.

The Games also helped the world to better understand China and its people. Such understandings arose from the hospitality and dedication of the 17 million Beijing residents and 1.7 million Games volunteers, from Beijing's earnest fulfillment of its commitment to "People's Olympics, High-tech Olympics and Green Olympics," and from a series of eye-catching changes including free news coverage in China for foreign media and demonstration zones in Beijing parks.

And most of all, the world has better understood China through the theme of "One World, One Dream" shared by both Games. This one dream, as interpreted by Chinese President Hu Jintao, stands for mankind's persisting quest for a better future, with harmony -- between nations, peoples, and man and nature -- lying at the core.

While generating passion and glory and lighting up dreams and hopes, the past 40 days also witnessed continued wars and conflicts, violence and bloodshed in some parts of the world. But it was exactly this upsetting reality that made the Games' theme all the more appealing and the Games' legacy even more powerful.

It might be too early to gauge the impact of the Beijing 2008 Games, which many believe will influence China and the rest of the world in many years to come. But there is one thing for certain -- those who took part in or bore witness to these Games, in whatever ways, would be able to proclaim with pride: "I have seen history in the making."

Source: Xinhua

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2 Great Britain 42 29 31 102
3 USA 36 35 28 99
4 Ukraine 24 18 32 74
5 Australia 23 29 27 79
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