India celebrates with aplomb successful completion of Delhi Commonwealth Games

Friday, October 15, 2010

NEW DELHI - It was a triumphant evening for India when it completed the holding of the XIX Commonwealth Games in Delhi, putting at rest a thousand doubts by staging one of the most colourful galas to bring down the curtain on the eleven-day event.

India made a record haul of 101 medals, including 38 Gold, 27 silver and 36 bronze. India stood second in the medal tally behind Australia, which bagged 74 gold, 55 silver and 48 bronze medals.

The ceremony was witnessed by Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Commonwealth Games Chief Michael Fennell. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was the guest of honour.

Prince Edward, patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation, formally declared the 19th edition closed amid thunderous cheers from the audience.

Reading out the closure statement, the Prince said, “In the name of the Commonwealth Games Federation, I proclaim the XIX Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010 closed.

“In accordance with tradition I call upon the sportsmen and sportswomen of the Commonwealth to assemble in four years time in Glasgow, Scotland, there to celebrate the XX Commonwealth Games in 2014.”

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 - featuring nearly 7,000 artists.

There was much excitement and euphoria in store when a tribute was paid to the India’s sporting spirit, aptly titled Agni - a segment that featured the fiery and passionate tradition of the country’s martial arts.

Chants of Agni shloka preceded eight martial art forms - Kalaripayattu, Naga warriors, Thangta, Gatka, Silambam, Akhara, Dhan Patta, Talwar Raas - that enthralled the audience as skies lit up with dazzling fireworks.

Fourteen military bands, 17 pipes and drums of various regiments and batallions of the Indian Armed Forces performed in unison as pigeons were set free. They were matched by a colourful display by artists from Scotland who made a formation depicting Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium or the Armadillo.

Dressed in white, 2010 Delhi school children paid tribute to the motherland performing to the tunes of ‘Vande Mataram’.

The performers sprinkled the tri-colour of Indian flags, signifying the festival of Holi in what turned out to be a visual delight.

In a surprise package, the Games volunteers, Delhi United, chugged into the stadium making a beeline in a display of Indian Railways legacy.

Flags of the 71 participating nations with ace shooter Gagan Narang holding the Indian tricolour entered the field together as one big contingent, signifying the bonds and friendships formed among the sportspersons from Commonwealth countries during the Games.

The official mascot of the Games, Shera, was given an emotional farewell as he went around the stadium accompanied by singer Shaan.

Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi in is speech said: “The sporting extravaganza has ended. But it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning.”

The Commonwealth Games Federation President, Michael Fennell in his address described the Delhi Games as truly exceptional. He said security, transport and other services have been of highest quality. The venues were world class and it was a truly outstanding show by the athletes.

The compliments were more than formal, as many officials had expressed doubts about the preparations for the game, including the construction of the games village where the participants were to stay and the venues of the sports. To add to the troubles of the organizers, Delhi received one of the heaviest rainfalls this year.

Doubts were also raised about the security arrangements for the games. Reports that terrorist organizations are attempting to target the games turned Delhi into a fortress and caused inconvenience to citizens. For the first couple of days the venues saw few spectators, but with reports of the successful holding of the events in the media the crowds gathered to cheer the sportsperson.

To add to the doubts, many sports organisation in the country had raised doubts about the facilities available for sportspersons. Now that the Commonwealth Games have the best ever haul of medals, no one is questioning and a proud Prime Minister is meeting the medal winners today.

The mood of the nation was reflected in the 30-minute segment titled ‘Music of Universal Love’ featuring renowned Indian singers and musicians, which mesmerized the crowd in the final leg of the ceremony. (ANI)

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