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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 20:57 GMT 21:57 UK
Greece bids Games farewell
Athens closing ceremony
The 2004 Olympic Games officially came to an end in Athens with a spectacular closing ceremony on Sunday.

Greek music and dance kicked off an evening of celebration before the flame was extinguished and the flag lowered.

A firework display welcomed the athletes into the Olympic Stadium, with double gold-medallist Kelly Holmes carrying Great Britain's flag.

The torch has now been passed to China as Beijing prepares to host the Games in 2008.

Their athletes will be relishing the prospect of performing on home soil after collecting a record medal haul in Athens.

They finished second in the overall medal table behind the United States, with Great Britain finishing a creditable 10th.

Despite pre-Games fears over construction and security, the Athens Olympics have generally been hailed as a success.

They really did a fantastic job - I am very, very happy about the Games
IOC president Jacques Rogge
In his closing speech, International Olympic committee president Jacques Rogge told the city: "You have won.

"These were unforgettable, dream Games."

And Athens Games boss Gianna Angelopoulos added: "The Olympics came home and we've shown the world the great things Greeks can do."

The opening of the Games was overshadowed by the missed drugs tests of Greek stars Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou.

And among a steady stream of failed drugs tests during the two-week event, three Olympic champions were stripped of their titles.

ATHENS 2004 REMEMBERED

But Rogge said the 2004 Games would be remembered for the improvement in drug testing which allowed honest athletes to prevail.

"These Games were held in peace and brotherhood," he said.

"These were the Games where it became increasingly difficult to cheat and where clean athletes were better protected."

Earlier in the Games, Rogge had described security, which saw athletes outnumbered seven to one by security personnel, as "flawless".

But on the final day of action, the men's marathon was marred by an intruder who dramatically pushed race leader Vanderlei de Lima into the crowd.

De Lima went on to take bronze which he was awarded during the closing ceremony.

The Brazilian was also honoured with the Pierre de Coubertin Medal, which recognises acts of sportsmanship, and was given a huge cheer by those in the stadium.

It was one of many highlights of the two-week extravaganza, which also saw two notable athletics doubles.

After Holmes' double over 800m and 1500m, Morrocan Hicham El Guerrouj became the first man since Paavo Nurmi in 1924 to win both the 1500m and 5,000m.

And earlier in the Games, US swimmer Michael Phelps scooped six gold medals among a total of eight.

Team GB had its ups and downs, with Matthew Pinsent's tears after winning his fourth Olympic gold contrasting with the tears of despair as Paula Radcliffe saw her marathon dreams disappear.

But Britain ended on a high note when teenage boxing sensation Amir Khan picked up a well-deserved silver to take Britain's final medal tally to 30 - eclipsing the total from Sydney 2000 by two.





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