April 24, 2010

The Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony

The Closing Ceremony of the Games brought out mixed emotions for all the athletes, we were able to celebrate our successes but it was also very sad to know that everything we had worked for was now over. It was a great chance to soak in the final event of the Games and reflect on our experiences. The Ceremony was held in a unique way, rather than being held in a large stadium the VANOC committee decided to hold the event in the Whistler Village. At first I was sceptical about this, walking into BC Plaza as we did at the Opening Ceremony was a magical experience and I wanted to re-live that, instead we were to have our march along the Whistler streets. I was pleasantly surprised as this turned out to be a lot of fun!

Unfortunately once again mother nature was playing a role as it was pouring with rain. As we assembled at the beginning of the march with all the other countries the volunteers were handing out the clear plastic ponchos we had become so accustomed to over the past 2 weeks. The mood was still high everyone was excited and as we started marching the clouds parted and it stopped raining! It also became apparent that the crowds too were as excited as the athletes. The streets were jam packed with people cheering as we walked along. People were also on apartment balconies, hanging out windows, up trees or on top of statues anywhere they could find a spot where they could see us marching. A local later told me how he had never seen so many people line the streets before, the atmosphere was incredible and felt very personal as we high fived the crowds along the way. The Aussie’s had come out in force waving their flags and chanting Aussie Aussie Aussie as soon as they saw us! As we came to the end of our march we entered into the Medals Ceremony Plaza which had now been converted into an arena.

(Marching through the Whistler streets)

(Aussie's showing their support in any little way!)

(The Closing Ceremony Plaza)

The usual speeches, national anthems, and traditional Canadian entertainment featured throughout the ceremony. This included singing, dancing, a traditional Canadian blanket toss and the handing over of the Paralympic flame to Seochi, Russia where the Games will next be held in 2014. As the ceremony officially came to a close the fireworks began the sky was alight with colour and as we got up to leave the rain started again.

(Hoola hoop gone to the extreme!)
(Traditional Canadian blanket tossing)
(A Russian Olympic figure skater & Paralympic swimmer figure skate whilst an artist creates a sand drawing to showcase Seochi 2014)
(The Paralympic flame now in the hands of Seochi, Russia)
(Fireworks to officially end the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympic Games)

Following the Ceremony the Australian team held a small function to celebrate what is officially the best result the Australian Paralympic ski team has ever produced. A great way to celebrate the end of the Games with our family, friends and supporters.

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