Special report: 24th Universiade Bangkok 2007
By Sportswriter Zhang Suyue
BANGKOK, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Thailand, world renowned
land of smile, lowered the curtain of 24th Universiade in Bangkok on Saturday
with China topping the medal standings with 33 gold, 30 silver and 27 bronze
Athletes from 152 countries and regions attending the
closing ceremony witnessing five streams of water from the ground to put out the
flame in a gracious manner.
"As the fire was born from the ground to commence the
opening ceremony, we decided to conduct the fire-off ceremony in this highly
stylish way," said Dr. Arthit Ovrairat, director of Organizing Committee for
opening and closing ceremony.
"The Thai people have delivered what they have
promised to bring the largest Universiade ever in terms of number of sports
events and participants," said George E.Killian, president of International
University Sports Federation (FISU).
Bozidar Djelic, the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia,
took the FISU flag from Dr. Wichit Srisa-an, Minister of Education of Thailand,
at the ceremony.
Thanks to the haul of six diving titles in the last
two competition days, China, hosting the Olympics next year, finally overtook
her closest rival Russia to reclaim the overall champion.
Depending on their dominance in athletics and
shooting, Russia finished second on the standings with 29 gold, 26 silver and 38
bronze medals, followed by Ukraine with 27-22-17.
Japan, making full use of their gold mine in Judo,
climbed to the fourth place with 19-15-22. South Korea, who collected seven
golds in taekwondo, got the fifth berth with 16-19-19.
Remarkably, Thailand demonstrated her great progress
in sports, when it reached a historic high of the sixth place on the medal
standings with 15-7-9.
The host country, aiming at grabbing at least 10
golds, has sent all her best athletes to the Universiade, even withdrawing the
whole national badminton team from the World Championships in Malaysia.
Athletics competition, despite the absence of world
No. 1 United States, stole the spotlight owing to a rare case of re-run and a
break of 26-year-old Universiade record.
The talented Turkish runner Halil Akkas easily set
the new games record for men's 3,000m steeplechase at eight minutes 20.83
seconds. The previous record was made by America's John Gregorek in 8:21.26 at
the 1981 Bucharest Universiade.
The Americans, however, spared no effort in the
swimming pool, when they collected 10 out of the totaling 40 golds, enabling the
world strongest sports country to finish the eighth in overall rankings.
Leonid Ekimov of Russia and Anna Bessonova from
Ukraine became the most brilliant stars at the biennial sports gala, since both
of them claimed five titles in their respective competition of shooting and
The university sports games also turned out to be
pure clean, when FISU declared that the results of all doping tests taken had
"The quality of the installations combined with
perfect organization by high level professional made this event unforgettable
for all of us," FISU President Killian concluded in his closing speech.
While the music blared, a concert by Thailand's
leading contemporary bands and hip-hop groups started to entertain the guests
all over the world.
"Many thanks to Bangkok and Thai people, and see you
all in Belgrade in 2009," said the Serbian deputy prime minister.
It is time to say good-bye to the amazing Thailand,
but the ebullient display of youth will go on forever.