By Tom Degun in Singapore
August 26 - The inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games officially drew to a close here tonight with a stunning display of blazing fireworks, emotive music and dazzling dance performances at a memorable ceremony here on the world’s largest floating stage in Marina Bay.
The hour long spectacle, which took place in front of a sell-out crowd of 27,000, saw adolescent hip hop dancers as well as a continuous display of spectacular fireworks inject the kind of youth and energy into proceedings that have become synonymous with these Games.
A nice edition to the ceremony, tailored for the age group, saw the young athletes themselves take to the stage for the duration of proceedings where they could be seen dancing to the music and pulling faces as the camera closed in on them.
As the ceremony begun, highlights capturing the laughter and tears of the Young Olympians over the past 12 days of the Games were played on giant video screens while lively audience participation was a key feature of the evening.
Music artists, such as 12-year-old Nathania Ong, led the enthusiastic spectators in singing the Singapore National Anthem "Majulah Singapura" which means "Onward Singapore".
However, the most poignant moment of the evening came during the protocol when International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge announcing the conclusion of the competition with the words: "I now declare the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore closed, and, in accordance with tradition, I call upon the Youth of the World to assemble in four years’ time in Nanjing, China, for the second Summer Youth Olympic Games."
The Olympic Anthem was sung as the Olympic Flag was lowered and symbolically handed over from Singaporean table tennis Youth Olympic silver medallist Isabelle Li Siyun, to Mayor of Singapore’s North East Community Development Council Teo Ser Luck, to the President of the IOC, to the Mayor of Nanjing Ji Jianye and finally to Chinese shooting Youth Olympic gold medallist Gao Ting Jie.
The Youth Olympic Flame, which was lit on August 14 by 16-year-old sailing competitor Darren Choy of Singapore, was then slowly extinguished in a moving moment as the stage was shrouded in darkness.
But a final, energetic performance from a group modern dancers and singers resurrected the carnival atmosphere once more as 200 huge globe balloons were sent high into the night sky to signal the end of the Games and leave Singaporean’s partying on until the early hours.
In his closing speech, Rogge said: "Congratulations and thank you Singapore for a job superbly done.
"You rose brilliantly to the challenge of combining elite sport, modern education and culture.
"Throughout these 12 days, we all enjoyed the warm hospitality of the public authorities, of the very successful Organising Committee and of the 20,000 wonderful volunteers.
"These Games will leave a great human legacy in Singapore and around the world."
In a message to the athletes, Rogge continued: "Dear athletes, you made us proud.
"You have learnt what it means to be a true champion, not simply a winner.
"You have shown us that a new generation is ready to embrace and share Olympic values.
"You thrilled us with your splendid performances.
"But, more than that, you inspired us with your enthusiasm, your spirit and the sheer joy you brought to the task of competing, learning and living with fellow athletes from around the world.
"These were truly inspirational Games.
Ng Ser Miang (pictured right), the chairman of Singapore 2010, added: "We have done it!
"We have delivered the inaugural Youth Olympic Games.
"Thank you, President Jacques Rogge for your vision.
"This is the legacy of your Presidency.
"It is now time to say goodbye.
"I hope you will leave Singapore with great memories of both this Games and Singapore.
"Merci bien, au revoiret bon voyage."
The event bought together 3,500 of the world’s most talented athletes aged from 14 to 18.
Coming from 204 countries and competing over 26 disciplines, the young athletes in Singapore competed in innovative new events such as the immensely popular 3-on-3 street basketball and mixed male and female relays.
The youngsters also participated in wide-ranging cultural and educational programmes including workshops on the value of friendship, the dangers of doping and benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
The new additions to the programme have been such a success that the IOC have said that they are looking to introduce them into the traditional Olympics in the future while in his closing press conference, Rogge stated that the event in Singapore has exceeded his highest expectations.
He said: "I knew it would be a good organisation from our Singaporean friends but they have exceeded their level of perfection.
"This was a huge success, more than we expected, and every four years the Youth Olympic Games will go to another city and they will improve the quality of the event.
"I am very optimistic about the future."
Contact the writer of this story at tom.de[email protected]
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