HONG KONG, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Opened with a spectacular in Victoria Harbor and closed with memorable moments, the 5th East Asian Games (EAG) lowered the curtain on Sunday and was regarded as a legend for hosts Hong Kong SAR, China.
International pop stars Sunday joined the farewell gala with the Chinese Orchestra in Hong Kong Coliseum for a unique international rendition of the Hong Kong EAG theme song "You Are The Legend".
In keeping with closing ceremony tradition, the Chinese special administration region passed the EAG baton to the Chinese city of Tianjin which will host the next Games in 2013.
"The Games were unforgettable. Hosts Hong Kong together with all the other delegations created a legend," said Chinese chef de mission Duan Shijie.
Nine days have passed since a creative opening ceremony that was given a gold medal by the International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge for its uniqueness and creativeness.
Just to confirm how accurate the Chinese idiom "double happiness at the door" was, host BMX rider Steven Patrick Marie Josee Wong was awarded the first gold medal of these Games on the same day.
After competitions in 22 sports with 262 gold medals granted, China retained its throne in the quadrennial events, amassing an overwhelming 232 medals -- 113 gold, 73 silver and 46 bronze - to leave second-placed Japan well behind with 62-58-70.
South Korea was still the third, as was it in the previous four editions, in 39-45-59.
The fourth to ninth went to Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Macao, DPR Korea, and Guam whose sole bronze medal was bagged by Gilbert Anthony Carbullido Pascua in men's under 62kg taekwondo event.
Among about 2,300 athletes, megastar athlete Liu Xiang was sure to be the jewel in the crown as the 26-year-old Chinese conquered both the 110m hurdles in a class of his own and the hearts of many fans in Hong Kong and beyond.
His ease on his favorite lane 3 at the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground and his big grin after the 13.66-second victory all passed an ensuring information that the former world and Olympic champion had walked out of shadow of his withdrawal from last year's Beijing Olympic Games.
Returning from the one-year layoff after the surgery on his right Achilles' tendon, Liu said he would take time to find his old form.
"I am working hard just for one goal -- to run within 13 seconds," said the former world record holder, who set the 12.88 seconds world mark in 2006 world championshps before it was shaved off one hundredth of a second by Cuban Dayron Robles two years later.
For Chinese sports officials, however, protecting Liu from another injury was the priority.
"I only have two requests for Liu. The first one is to keep his healthy public image and the other one is not to get injured again," said Duan.
Sharing the limelight was diving queen Guo Jingjing who was also a popular figure here but in a quite different way.
Local media were more interested in her personal life than her sporting excellence, backed up by four Olympic and 10 world championships gold medals.
Her reported romantic relationship with Kenneth Fok, elder son of Hong Kong Olympic Committee president Timothy Fok, remained the hottest topic during these Games, to which Guo chose to keep silence.
Guo, paired up with Wu Minxia, romped to the 3m synchronized springboard gold as China's "dream team" swept all the 10 diving titles on offer in the Kowloon Park Swimming Pool.
Also in the water, swimmers from China and Japan combined to take 39 titles as Cheng Wan-Jung from Chinese Taipei took the remaining one -- women's 400m individual medley -- in the 40-event swimming tournament.
Thirty six Games records were thrashed by swimmers while just three new Games marks were set in track and field, where China walked away with a bulk of 26 titles, Japan with 16, South Korea with two and the DPR Korea and Chinese Taipei had one each.
HONG KONG WONDER
Hosts Hong Kong, vowing to make these Games "be the legend" as its slogan went, went from impressive to stunning when their sports perfomance culminated in their miracle win in the men's soccer final, over a much stronger Japan.
"Glorious Hong Kong - reached its own Mount Olympus," the organizers exclaimed. "Never before, in the 16-year history of the regional sporting extravaganza, has Hong Kong won so many."
When the final day dawned, Hong Kong collected an amazing pile of 26 gold, 31 silver and 53 bronze to reach a total of 110 medals, over three times of what they gained from the previous four editions combined.
They clean swept squash titles, they won in judo, rowing, cycling, cue sports, windsurfing and they also pulled off heavy weight gold medals in table tennis and badminton, against giant China.
Apart from its sporting achievement, Hong Kong earned praises for its organization, too.
"It was really difficult for Hong Kong to stage a sports event in such a big scale, but they did a great job," said Chinese chef de mission Duan.
"The organizers made a full use of the existing facilities as they offered a thoughtful and regulated service," said Duan. "They are very professional and good at coordination."
"I think their organization gave us some new concepts in staging international events," he added.
The preparation for the quadrennial regional event was first hit by the global economic crisis. The organizers were constantly short of fund to make ends meet. The Hong Kong SAR government would bear half of the 240 million Hong Kong dollars budget while the government itself had to battle the H1N1flu pandemic.
Only two new stadiums were built and some existing facilities were upgraded, which obviously spared the organizers of post-Games utilization worries. The Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground will serve a community with 300,000 residents in the New Territories area and the BMX Park will become the training ground for Hong Kong cyclists after the Games.
Like the previous edition in Macao four year ago, Hong Kong as the host has not built an athletes' village and the athletes were arranged in hotels close to where their events take place in a bid to reduce travel time and ease pressure on the city's heavy traffic.