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(LEAD) (Daegu Athletics) World championships come to close with rollicking ceremony

All Headlines 21:49 September 04, 2011

(ATTN: ADDS photos)
By Yoo Jee-ho

DAEGU, Sept. 4 (Yonhap) -- The 13th World Championships in Athletics came to a close with a ceremony that brought together hundreds of athletes, officials and volunteers of the nine-day competition.

In contrast to the mostly solemn tone of the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony brought a festive atmosphere to Daegu Stadium, celebrating the accomplishments of nearly 1,900 athletes from 201 nations in 47 disciplines. Daegu was the first-time host of the biennial event, the signature competition by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

South Korean musician DJ Koo kicked off the ceremony with house music, as some 1,500 athletes, officials and championships' volunteers danced their way into the stadium. The main scoreboards on both ends of the stadium played a five-minute highlight film of the championships.

The award ceremonies followed for the last two events of the championships, the 4x100-meter relay for both men and women.

In his farewell address, Kim Bum-il, mayor of Daegu and a co-chair of the organizing committee, credited "the united power of all Daegu citizens" with the successful hosting.

"During these championships, we were deeply moved by the tremendous efforts of athletes, challenging the limitations of humanity with their dreams and passion," Kim said. "In particular, with the immense interest of the entire nation, I am sure that these championships will serve as a milestone for the growth of athletics in Korea."

The IAAF flag was handed over to Moscow, the host of the next championships in 2013. After South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik declared the end of the championships, soprano Shin Moon-hee and Korean boy band JYJ took the stage for the closing performance. Fireworks capped off the ceremony.

The U.S. led all countries in gold medals for the fifth straight championships with 12, followed by Russia with nine.

South Korea finished without a medal, becoming only the third host to be shut out.

Despite the home team's misfortunes, spectators still came to the stadium in droves. The IAAF said 411,411 fans filled the stadium over the first eight days and it estimated the total figure for the championships to reach around 445,000.


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