August 24 - The Asian Youth Games came to a close here tonight after nine days of engrossing sporting action with a Closing Ceremony celebrating the achievements of athletes and volunteers as well as a variety of talented young performers from across the city.
As guitar music blared around the arena the stage was full of dancing teenagers keen for one more chance to celebrate the spirit of the Games before the flame was extinguished for four more years.
Karate, fencing and bicycles all formed part of a celebration which adopted a frenetic pace and also included much music, dancing and speeches.
In front of Sri Lankan Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne, the event ended with the flag of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) being passed to the host for the third Asian Youth Games in 2017 which will be in Hambantota.
In comparison with the Opening Ceremony eight days earlier the week's finale contained less metaphor and meaning as, following in the footsteps of London 2012, it focused on entertainment and a party atmosphere celebrating what had gone before.
The presence of many children of even younger ages than the Youth Games competitors was a clever gesture which underlined the importance, and the talent, of youth which has been so evident throughout the week.
OCA vice-president Timothy Fok closed the evening and said that "we have witnessed some wonderful moments both on and off the field of play, and you - the athletes - have made friendships that will last a lifetime.
"We have set an example for the world in how to promote cooperation and have set a foundation for global improvement.
"I have the pleasure of drawing the Games closed for four years until they open in Sri Lanka."
More than 2,400 athletes from 45 different National Olympic Committee's have taken part in 122 events across 16 sports over the seven day period.
Somewhat unsurprisingly China finished top of the medals table and won a total of 93 medals, including 46 gold from a range of sports, while South Korea placed second with 52 medals, 27 gold, after being particularly dominant in the pool.
Japan, Thailand and Chinese Taipei completed the top five while 29 countries won medals with an impressive 19 of them taking at least one gold.
Before the next Asian Youth Games in 2017 many of these same athletes will return here to Nanjing for the second Summer Youth Olympic Games which will see Asian athletes take on the rest of the world this time next year.
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