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Olympians walk away with Laureus

CHINA'S Olympic squad, which topped the medals tally at the Beijing Games last year, was named the Laureus World Team of the Year yesterday.

The national team got the nod from the 46 sporting greats who make up the Laureus academy ahead of soccer teams Manchester United and Spain, the British Olympic cycling team, the Jamaican sprint team and the NBA's Boston Celtics.

China won 51 golds, 21 silver and 28 bronze medals in Beijing.

"Beijing was one of the great Olympic Games," academy chairman Ed Moses said yesterday. "To me one of the most amazing thing was the passion and determination of the Chinese athletes who produced so many epic performances, not just in the sports in which we knew they were good, but in others where China was not expected to do so well."

Deng Yaping, an academy member, said the award was a tribute to the huge success of China's first Olympics. "This is international recognition of a great achievement," the three-time Olympic table tennis champion said.

Six gold medalists were at the ceremony in Beijing yesterday to represent the 639 athletes in the Chinese team.

"The other teams did a fantastic job but last year was the Olympic year in China, so last year was our year," said Zou Kai, who won three gold medals in gymnastics. "I feel excited to beat Manchester United (because) I'm a Liverpool fan."


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