SEA Games: Even a great show must end

SEA Games: Even a great show must end
PHOTO: TNP

It was here and now it's gone.

The 19 days of competition may have been fleeting for some, but the hope is that the legacy of the 28th SEA Games will linger on for years to come.

The curtain came down on the Singapore Games last night with the official closing ceremony attended by over 40,000 at the National Stadium and watched by millions around the region on television and computer screens.

It ended very much the same way it began at the opening ceremony on June 5 - the preliminary football matches kicked off the Games on May 29 - with a dazzling lights and laser show and thousands of bodies dancing to thumping music reverberating through the glorious, cavernous arena.

The ceremony's hosts Chua En Lai, Sharon Au and Nikki Muller were decked out in gold, appropriate perhaps, given Team Singapore's outstanding performance at the Games.

The Republic's athletes mined a total of 259 medals from the 1,313 offered for nearly 4,500 athletes doing battle in 36 sports. A remarkable 84 of those were gold, smashing Singapore's previous best of 50, collected at the last home Games in 1993.

But Thailand pipped the hosts to the top of the medal standings with 95 golds, with their football team making tongues wag after their stunning display.

Before the ceremonial proceedings began, the huge throng gathered inside the stadium and broke out into a rendition of "Happy Birthday" for golden boy Joseph Schooling, who turned 20 yesterday and was arguably the top performer at these Games.

The Singapore swimmer claimed nine golds from nine events, rewriting 10 Games records along the way.

The unmistakable, calming voice of veteran commentator Brian Richmond provided narration for the night.

His voice had also accompanied the four days of track and field action at the same venue, and provided the soundtrack as Veronica Shanti Pereira created history by winning Singapore's first women's sprint gold for 42 years.

The surprise by the 18-year-old in the women's 200m event was one of just many milestones achieved by the Republic's athletes at this Games.

TRIBUTE

Organisers paid tribute to the athletes from all 11 countries, to the 17,000 volunteers, and the fans who packed venues across the island, from the Expo, to stadiums in Choa Chu Kang, Sengkang and Bishan, and, of course, the Sports Hub.

Amid the fanfare and excitement, Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin also made an emotional tribute to the victims in the deadly Sabah earthquakes last week.

In his address, he read an excerpt from a blogpost written by the students and teachers of Tanjong Katong Primary School about how they relied on each other to make it to the next stage of their hike up the mountain.

"This is the spirit of endeavour, of never giving up.

"This is also the spirit of teamwork and friendship, where together, we are strong," he said.

"And these are the same qualities that we have witnessed and celebrated throughout the 28th SEA Games.

"Let us continue to keep this spirit burning in us, and build closer ties of kinship as we progress together as a region."

Those in attendance took heed.

Warm applause rang around the stadium as the SEA Games federation flag was lowered. Large, hanging metal ornaments, each depicting a sport and first seen at the opening ceremony, were lowered and dismantled.

Torch-bearers, 36 of them as well, lined up on the pitch and snuffed out each flame in unison as the cauldron, lit just 12 days earlier by Singapore football icon Fandi Ahmad and his 17-year-old son Irfan, was extinguished.

Tan handed the SEA Games flag to Tunku Imran, president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, and Malaysian Youth and Sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin, chairman of the 29th SEA Games committee.

More applause greeted the exchange, as the Malaysian flag was raised, with the strains of "Negara Ku" ringing out as a stadium stood as one in respect.

Popular Malaysian artistes Najwa Mahiaddin and Monoloque then took to the stage and gave a taste of what is to come from our neighbours in 2017.

After a stunning show in 2015, South-east Asia expects.

This article was first published on June 17, 2015.
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