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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 August, 2004, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
China Olympians return as heroes
Chinese Olympic athletes pose for photos after getting off a plane upon arrival from Athens at Beijing airport Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2004
China won a record 32 gold medals at Athens
Members of the Chinese Olympic team have returned home to a heroes' welcome.

They were greeted at Beijing airport by a senior party leader, a brass band and a traditional drum and cymbal troop, as well as crowds of well-wishers.

The athletes won 32 gold medals, a record for China, which came second only to the United States in the overall medals table.

China will host the summer Olympic games in 2008.

Feng Kun, who captained the country's gold medal-winning volleyball team, used patriotic language as she spoke on the athletes' behalf.

These results are the product of the concern of the party and government, and of the strong support of society
Feng Kun, volleyball captain

"These results are the product of the concern of the party and government, and of the strong support of society," she said.

"They do not just belong to the individual athletes who won the medals, but also to the motherland and the people."

Gold medallist in the 110m hurdles, Liu Xiang, said he felt "awesome".

Asked if he would now go and train in the US, he replied: "No, I won't. I'll keep working with my coach here because, after all, I'm no worse than they [the Americans] are."

China has seen the Athens games as a good training ground for the 2008 Olympics, in which it hopes its athletes will do even better on home turf.

Liu Qi, Beijing's Communist Party secretary, said the world's focus had now switched to the Chinese capital ahead of the next games.

"Holding a good 2008 Olympics is our solemn promise to the international community, and is a heavy responsibility on our shoulders and glorious historical duty," he said.

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