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Beijing Olympics: Showstopping closing ceremonyIt was yesterday hailed the greatest send off ever - as Beijing closed the 2008 Olympics in spectacular

style. In a jaw-dropping ceremony at the Birds Nest Stadium, four billion watching on TV across the world were again left spellbound by a perfectly choreographed display of acrobatics, dance, fi

reworks and music as Chinas first ever Games bowed out. Oscar-nominated film director Zhang Yimou had promised a closing ceremony which would make the world remember China - and he did not disappoint. The multi-million pound two-hour show went without a single hitch - just like the amazing opening ceremony. International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge thanked China for a truly exceptional celebration of sport. He told the 91,000 crowd: Tonight, we come to the end of 16 glo

rious days

which we will cher

ish forever. We will long remember the achievements we witnessed here. Thank you to the people of China. Chinas President Hu Jintao took his seat alongside Mr Rogge at the start of the ceremony - the excited crowd going wild, waving flags, clappi

ng and cheering. Two hundred drummers filed out behind two giant heavenly drums while 200 bouncing and flying men took to the air in fluorescent costumes, drawing inspiration from the modern extreme sports of the Games. Then an army of 1,148 silver bell dancers raced into the arena with acrobats flying hundreds of metres above them as giant illumin

ated drum carts - each representing different aspects of the Chinese culture - rode out. The flags of each of the 204 competing nations, carried out to a drum roll by medal-waving athletes, were met with deafening cheers. Britains triple gold medal winner Chris Hoy proudly carried the Union Flag. Team chiefs and of

ficials waved and clapped as the athletes joined them alongside some of the Games 1.7 million volunteers - invited as a special thank you. The 29th Olympics had kicked off with concerns over Chinas pollution, corruption and human rights. It ended with dazzling fireworks but even more brilliant memories of sporting triumph - Jamaicas Usain Bolt powering his way to three gold

medals, the superhuman e

fforts of eight-gold medal American swimmer Michael Phelps - and Britains best medal haul in 100 y

ears. A Beijing Games spokesman said: These were the most watched games in history. We hope this has given the world the best possible view of our country.