A moment to cherish

KAMESH SRINIVASAN

MANCHESTER 2002 will remain long in the minds of Indian athletes. In a night of celebration, even the rain could not dampen the spirit of the Indian contingent.

The Closing Ceremony was a culmination of many months of passion and commitment of the organisers, who had put together everything they possibly could, to make the Commonwealth Games a memorable one. The thousands of volunteers did a wonderful job.

Like the Opening Ceremony, the Closing Ceremony too was exciting. It was simple, but left a lasting impression on the capacity crowd of 38,000, some of whom were braving the rain, wearing raincoats in the open North Stands.

Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, who declared the competition closed, watches the events during the Closing Ceremony.-AP

The Queen was the focus of attention and the children presented her a portrait, painted on a canvas.

Melbourne which will be hosting the 2006 Commonwealth Games made the presentation with video clippings and music. David Atkins did the presentation.

Melbourne's star-performer Vanessa Amorrosi, who performed in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sydney, sang the song "Shine," in pouring rain. The song had a line which said, "Destination is a journey just begun, will you join our celebration in the sun."

The best part of the programme was the lantern show, when hundreds carried lanterns.They were representing the great faiths of the world ... an internally illuminated Cathedral, Mosque, Synagogue, Hindu temple, Buddha, the Taj Mahal and many others.

The show was accompanied by the song, People, by Jimmy Cliff and Dave Stewart. They sang, "let's get together and show our power all over the world."

Then the illuminated birds in flight, a formation by children, was eye-catching. They marched with lanterns, to form a huge bird in flight, to the jubilation of the audience.

Then the message came, "seek peace", with the lanterns making the formation. This was captured beautifully by the aerial cameras.

Participants of a lantern show enthrall the fans. This was the best part of the programme on the closing day.-AP

Thereafter, there was a presentation with 1950s Morris Minor cars, which filled the arena, and led to the Coronation Street theme, with couples getting out of the cars for a waltz.

They pyrotechnics lit up the sky, and then came the song, One Night in Heaven. A series of artists regaled the gathering with vibrant music and dance, that rocked the stadium.

It was a fitting finale to a memorable Commonwealth Games. The athletes bid adieu, carrying with them the spirit of friendship.

In between the celebrations, the Queen declared the competition closed, and the flag was passed on to Melbourne, the next host.

Thank you Manchester.