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October 15th, 2010

Commonwealth Games draw to memorable close...

Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games Stadium

As laser lights danced in the sky and the best of Bollywood and Indi-pop music brought the crowds to their feet, bringing the 19th Commonwealth Games to a colourful and electrifying close in Delhi on October 14, India marked a triumphant moment, pulling off one of the biggest sporting galas in the world with aplomb.

Fireworks in the night sky lent a magical halo to the over two-hour-long closing ceremony at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, crowned by a giant helium aerostat, as close to 60,000 spectators roared and cheered. It was a photo finish to the October 3-14 event that saw India showcasing its organisational might. As many of the 6,700 athletes and delegates from 71 participating teams said, they had witnessed a different country from what they had imagined.

“Delhi you have delivered a truly exceptional Games and a wonderful experience for us all, thank you Delhi,” said Mike Fennel, chief of the CWG Federation.

The closing ceremony was perhaps the crowning glory. It was a night of martial arts, Sufi rhythms, Bollywood and Indi-pop music, powered by glitzy lights and booming music — as also nearly 7,000 artistes.

While tens of millions across India and around the world watched the ceremony on television, the crowded stadium had international and Indian dignitaries in thrall.

Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games Stadium

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the guest of honour, flanked by Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. Sitting in the VIP box was Prince Edward, younger brother of Prince Charles. United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi was there as was Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Smt. Gursharan Kaur, wife of the Prime Minister.

The spectacle began with over 500 martial artistes from the far corners of India. Carrying swords, sticks and other traditional weapons, they leapt into the air or moved with agility on the ground, performing the act titled “Agni”. There was a burst of patriotic fervour as military bands worked up a crescendo. Bagpipers and drummers, clad in black, white and orange stirred up martial music.

The moment soon softened when 2,010 schoolchildren, clad in white, came to perform “Vande Mataram”, the national song. With the Ashoka Chakra at the centre, they spun around, and what soon materialised was the orange, white and green of the Indian flag — on the ground and their faces!

Taking over from them were the many volunteers who had toiled to make the Games a success. Waving and smiling, the volunteers in red and white track suits had their moment of glory. The loudest cheer though was reserved for the real heroes — the athletes and officials of the Games, especially the Indian contingent.

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