As she ran her fingers over the Braille lettering on her fourth Paralympic gold medal, Natalie Du Toit said the Beijing Games had put all the scaremongers to shame.
"It's definitely been a success. Everybody was so scared that no one would understand English, the pollution and this and that. But the Chinese have really stepped it up," the single amputee swimmer told China Daily from outside the South African residence at the athlete's village on the eve of her final race.
"They are one friendly nation. I think that's been amazing," she said.
"The volunteers, again, are a case of how the village has really stepped up since the Olympics. They take wheelchairs out of buses, they wheel them along, and that's really been amazing.
"The whole city has come together really. You see it at the stadiums, watching sports. It's been beautiful."
Du Toit lost her leg in a traffic accident in 2001 in her native Cape Town. Instead of letting it kill her promising career as an Olympic swimmer, she made history seven years later as one of only two athletes to compete at both the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics.
Along with compatriot and double amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius, table tennis star Natalia Partyka of Poland and swimmers Matt Cowdrey (Australia) and Erin Popovich (US), she has become one of the faces of the Paralympics.
Sunday night saw her smash another Paralympic record at the Water Cube to claim one of her shakier events, the 50m freestyle S9, in 29.2 seconds. This puts her final tally from the Beijing Paralympics to five gold medals, a feat she also managed in Athens four years ago.
"World records are not that important to me," she said.
"My goal now is to get to London (2012 Olympics) and make top five in the Open Water (10 km Olympic swim).
"What I've done this year, if I can keep that going for three years, I think I can step up a lot of things. But I haven't really thought that far ahead."
After finishing fourth at the Open Water World Championships to finally book her ticket to the Olympics and realize a lifelong dream, Du Toit struggled with her cap and only managed 16th at the event on its Olympic debut.
"It's a great disappointment. I mean I struggled with it for quite a while and then I had the Paralympics, so I had to sort of get through it as quickly as possible," she said.
But an award might cheer her a bit. Chosen by an independent panel of judges, Natalie Du Toit and Said Gomez of Panama became the two winners of the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award.
The award's founder, Dr Whang Youn Dai and Miguel Sagarra, vice-president of the IPC, will present the two athletes with a pure gold medal during tonight's closing ceremony.