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Day 12: China biggest winner at Paralympics
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21:50, September 17, 2008

China emerged the biggest winner, both on and off the sporting arena, as the 13th Paralympic Games came to a close on Wednesday.

With one of the most dominating performances ever, the host nation won 89 gold medals and 211 in total to top the medal table. Britain was well behind China with 42 golds and 102 medals, and the United States finished second with 36 golds and 99 medals.

For the first time ever, the Chinese took part in all 20 sports and won gold medals in 11 sports. Four years ago, they reached the top of the podium in nine of 11 sports which they entered.

"Generally speaking, we have well accomplished our goal for the Games and lived up to the expectations of Chinese people," said Jia Yong, China's deputy chef de mission.

Many of the world's weaker sporting nations also made their breakthroughs in Beijing. A record 76 countries and regions won medals, two more than the previous high in Athens in 2004, and several delegations won either their first-ever gold medal or first medal of any color.

Canadian wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc, South Africa's amputee swimmer Natalie du Toit and Australian swimmer Matthew Cowdrey produced one of the greatest feats in Paralympic history, each bagging home five gold medals.

Led by these stars, athletes broke 279 world records and 339 Olympic records during the games.

In addition to their unparalleled sporting success, the hosts have also been widely praised for 12 days of near-flawless organization.

"These Games have been great Games. I think everybody realizes that," said International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven.

"I think the two Games have been of equal splendor but with distinguishing features," he added, referring to China's motto for the Paralympics, comparing it with the Olympics, "Two Games with Equal Splendor.

British organizers of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics (LOCOG) also praised the successful delivery of both events but promised an outstanding event of their own.

Sebastian Coe, head of the LOCOG, said the Beijing Paralympics would be remembered for "wonderful elite sport, superb organization, stunning venues and spectacular opening and closing ceremonies".

China has used the Paralympics to improve the lives of its 83 million disabled population by a number of actions, for example, setting up the country's first fleet of easy-access taxis and making tourist spots such as the Great Wall accessible to wheelchairs.

The legacies of the Paralympics were "huge and far-reaching" both in terms of improved access and changed attitudes, said Wang Wei, executive vice president of the Beijing Organizing Committee (BOCOG).

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 89 70 52 211
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
6 South Africa 21 3 6 30
       Full medal table of the Games
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