Chinese President Xi opens Athletics Worlds

Beijing, Aug 22 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the World Athletics Championships in the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium here on Saturday.

Xi declared open the championships at a ceremony themed “Flying with Dreams,” ahead of the evening session that features the women’s shot put final and men’s 10,000 metres race, reports Xinhua.

The first gold medal went to Ghirmay Ghebreslassie from Eritrea as the 19-year-old won the men’s marathon title in the morning.

Among those present at the ceremony were International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach and outgoing International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) president Lamine Diack.

“During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Chinese people felt the charm of athletics. In the next few days, Beijing will come to the spotlight and the elite event will help demonstrate the Chinese people’s love for athletics once again,” said Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun, also chairman of the organising committee.

After the flags parade of the IAAF member associations, there was a brief but intriguing art performance at the ceremony, a brilliant combination of music, dance and cultural extravaganza.

The show reached its climax when all the performers shouted “Welcome to Beijing, my dear friends!”

Beijing hopes to impress the world again with the successful hosting of the athletics worlds which will run through to August 30.

In a speech at the opening ceremony, IAAF president Diack said he believes China has what it takes to become an athletics powerhouse.

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