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Gold medallist China's Zhang Yufei during the medal ceremony for the Women's 50m Butterfly at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on September 29. Image Credit: Reuters

Hangzhou: Hosts China finished with a record-breaking 201 gold medals as the curtain comes down on two weeks of triumphs and tears at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Sunday.

The biggest Asiad ever will wrap up later in the day with a closing ceremony at the 80,000-capacity Olympic stadium, with China handing over to Japan for 2026.

The Asian Games normally happen every four years but Nagoya-Aichi has a shorter run-up because the Hangzhou event was postponed by a year due to China’s now-abandoned zero-Covid measures.

Taiwan’s Gu Shiau-shuang won the final gold when she triumphed in the women’s karate -50kg kumite class.

Sporting powerhouse

But it was the hosts who dominated the overall medals table, their 201 golds beating the 199 they collected at Guangzhou 2010.

Their exploits across 40 sports and 54 venues reinforced China’s status as Asia’s sporting superpower, topping the medals table at every Asian Games since 1982.

With about 12,000 athletes in total, this was the biggest Asian Games in history.

Having been forced to delay because of Covid, organisers will congratulate themselves on a job well done, in what was China’s return to staging a major sporting event following the pandemic.

“Technically we have had one of the finest Asian Games ever,” said Olympic Council of Asia acting director general Vinod Kumar Tiwari.

“We have had 97 Games records, 26 Asian records and 13 world records, so the standard has been very, very high and we are very happy with it.”

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China's Qin Haiyang dives at the start of the final of the men's 50m breaststroke event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on September 29. Image Credit: AFP

World records tumble

World records came in shooting and weightlifting, but it was China’s swimmers, led by Zhang Yufei and Qin Haiyang - named the Hangzhou MVPs - who stole the spotlight.

China won 28 golds in the pool, with Zhang and Qin accounting for 11 of them, to signal their threat at the Paris Olympics when it starts in less than 10 months’ time.

Nine sports, among them boxing, break dancing and tennis, served as qualifiers for Paris.

Japan were a distant second in the final medals table with 52 golds, down from 75 at Jakarta in 2018, and South Korea were third on 42.

India’s total medal haul of 107 was their best showing ever, with their archers and shooters in particular excelling.

North Korea returned to international competition after four years of isolation and came top in weightlifting.

China has now hosted the Asian Games three times after Guangzhou 2010 and Beijing 1990, and OCA honorary life vice-president Wei Jizhong, who has attended 11 Asiads, rated it the most successful.

“We don’t rank Asian Games against other Games on who was the best,” said Wei, who is Chinese.

“But in terms of the Games in China, I give it a mark of 99. Why 99? There is always room for improvement.”