GLASGOW - The Glasgow Commonwealth Games were hailed as "the best ever" on Sunday as the 11-day showpiece came to an emotional conclusion inside a chilly Hampden Park.
An event long written-off as a dusty anachronism in the modern, profit-driven era of international sport ended with England on top of the medals table for the first time since 1986 and with rich plaudits ringing in its ears.
"The Games have made us all very proud and truly brought our family together," said Prince Imran, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), during a closing ceremony which fused the pop of Kylie Minogue and poetry of Rabbie Burns.
"Scotland, and Glasgow, you really have delivered in every aspect the best Games ever." Prince Imran's warm endorsement echoed similar praise earlier in the day from Mike Hooper, chief executive of the CGF, who described the event as "the stand-out Games in the history of the movement".
With more than 4,700 athletes having competed for 261 gold medals on offer, the Commonwealth Games flag was then entrusted to officials of the 2018 Games to be hosted by Australia's Gold Coast.
England started the day already assured of top spot in the medals table for the first time since 1986, dethroning Australia.
By the end of Sunday's action, with just 11 more titles to be decided, England had captured 174 medals of which 58 were gold. Australia finished on a total of 137 with 49 gold.
On a rain-hit final day in Glasgow, Lizzie Armitstead struck further gold for England in the women's cycling road race going one better than four years ago in New Dehli.
Fellow English rider Emma Pooley finished 25 seconds behind to finish second and add to the silver she won in the time trial.
"I can call myself a champion finally. It's special and something I've always dreamed about," Armitstead said.
"I just feel like I deserve this. I've trained so hard and I'm always on the podium but I don't win too many races."