Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Star-filled ceremony to end Games

Lulu performs during the 2014 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony at Hampden Park, Glasgow
Lulu performs during the 2014 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony at Hampden Park, Glasgow
England's netballers Ama Agbeze and Kadeen Corbin pose with a performer during the 2014 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

The curtain has come down on an incredible 11 days of Commonwealth Games sporting action in a glittering, star-filled closing ceremony at Glasgow's Hampden Park.

Fireworks got proceedings at the national stadium under way with a bang before Glasgow-born singer Lulu sent decibel levels through the roof with her famous hit Shout.

Organisers had just 18 hours to transform the arena from the setting for Glasgow 2014's track and field events into the city's very own "Commonwealth festival", with two specially-designed stages inspired by the iconic Barrowland Ballroom.

In keeping with the festival theme, the athletes who took part in the Games emerged from almost 700 tents dotted throughout the stadium to a thunderous Glasgow welcome from the 40,000-strong crowd.

The competition, featuring 17 different sports, saw more than 140 Commonwealth and several world records broken.

England ultimately topped the table, with Australia, Canada and host nation Scotland following on with their medal hauls.

Host Des Clarke described the ceremony as the "biggest party in Scotland's history".

Lulu told the crowds: "Isn't it great to be here tonight everybody? Tonight is all about saying than you so I think we need some very important people to come on down here to get this party started. Welcome the athletes from Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games."

The behind-the-scenes workers who kept Glasgow going for the duration of the Games were celebrated in an early section of the ceremony.

Glasgow legends Deacon Blue, who formed in the city in 1985 and went on to become one of its most famous and successful bands, paid tribute to them with a rendition of their anthem, Dignity.

Lead singer Ricky Ross got the crowds joining in as he belted out the song which tells the story of the dreams of a local council worker.

All in all, some 220 members of the emergency services and various council services took centre stage during the ceremony.

The workers - some on foot and some in the vehicles they use day-to-day - were led into the arena by police outriders who had taken part in the baton relay and held aloft a "Let Glasgow Flourish" banner. The slogan, a traditional Glaswegian phrase, was inscribed on a banner printed at the Glasgow School of Art and was carried by students who lost work in May's devastating fire at the Mackintosh building.

The many thousands of volunteers who helped make the Games a reality were the next to be thanked in the closing ceremony.

Local synth-pop trio Prides introduced the Games volunteers - known as Clyde-siders - and performed their song Messiah.

About 100 volunteers featured in the ceremony, representing the 15,000 Clyde-siders who gave up their free time to keep the Games moving like clockwork over the last 11 days.

At the start of last year, a record-breaking 50,811 people applied to be volunteers, exceeding the combined number of applications for the Manchester and Melbourne Games.

A choreographed sequence saw the tents shifted to reveal a large star shape around the star stage, paving the way for the entrance of representatives of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The 240 massed pipes and drums from 12 international territories played earpiercing renditions of Wi' a Hundred Pipers and The Bloody Fields of Flanders to herald the arrival of various Commonwealth dignitaries.

Glasgow 2014 chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin paid tribute to the athletes who "gave it their all" and the Clyde-siders, whom he described as the "lifeblood" of the Games.

"No matter who you are or where you are, sport has the power to make you feel part of something bigger. That is something we've witnessed here in Scotland over the last 11 days," he said.

"We've welcomed the world to our dear green place and it has been an experience we will never forget. Thank you Glasgow and thank you Scotland. You've done us proud.

"Soon we will hand over to Gold Coast 2018, and on behalf of Glasgow 2014, I would like to wish them every success. Our dreams and ambitions are now yours. Good luck from Glasgow.

"Tonight the Games leave Glasgow, but Glasgow will never forget the Commonwealth Games. It has made its mark on our city. It has won a place in our hearts.

"Already, it is a proud part of our history. History that belongs to Glasgow."

Prince Imran, of Malaysia, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), presented an award which recognises an outstanding athlete of the Commonwealth Games.

The 2014 David Dixon Award was handed to Welsh rhythmic gymnast Frankie Jones.

Prince Imran said "her ongoing commitment to her sport alongside her quiet, inspirational character has encouraged many young girls to take up the sport".

He went on to describe Glasgow 2014 as "the best Games ever", adding: "Glasgow - you were Pure, Dead Brilliant."

He told the crowd: "The Commonwealth Games are known as the Friendly Games. Glasgow has succeeded in making them even more than that. These have truly been the People's Games.

"Scotland, you have welcomed the athletes of the Commonwealth and you have contributed to them realising their dreams on one of the world's great sporting stages.

"We have witnessed superb sporting action, supported by fantastic organisation, made possible through the invaluable efforts of the thousands of volunteers who for many will provide their lasting impression of this city and Scotland's people.

"Thank you Clyde-siders - you have been truly amazing."

He praised the athletes' "inspiring performances" and added: "To Team Scotland, I say, a job truly well done. Your record medal haul has done your country proud."

He went on: "The Games have made us all very proud and truly brought our family together.

"Scotland, and Glasgow, you really have delivered in every aspect the best Games ever.

"I hope you enjoy tonight's closing ceremony and as we say farewell until we all meet once more on the Gold Coast, Australia, in 2018.

"Glasgow - you were Pure, Dead Brilliant."

The CGF flag was then lowered by two military representatives to the backdrop of Robert Burns' Ae Fond Kiss, sung by Scottish folk singer Karen Matheson, lead singer with Capercaillie.

The flag travelled down an avenue of flags representing the 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth before being "crowd-surfed" to the main stage by the festival crowd and folded.

Michael Cavanagh, chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland said: "As a Games family, I believe we have entertained and inspired the watching world in the last 11 days. Moment by moment, in competition, in victory and in defeat, you have all ensured that the Commonwealth Games has lived up to their proud reputation as the 'friendly Games'."

Receiving the flag, Tom Tate, mayor of city of Gold Coast, said: "I am honoured to receive this flag on behalf of the people of City of Gold Coast, Australia.

"We accept this responsibility with great pride and in the spirit of the Commonwealth Games."

Queensland tourism minister Jann Stuckey said Glasgow had "set the bar very high".

She said: "Thank you for welcoming us into your homes and your hearts.

"Congratulations on delivering a Commonwealth Games that epitomised the spirit and passion of sport."

Vice patron of the CGF, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex - in his capacity as a representative of the Head of the Commonwealth, the Queen - formally declared the Games closed.

Glasgow handed the CGF flag back to the federation, who entrusted it into the care of the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, to keep it safe until 2018.

He said: "Every four years these Games bring the spirit of our Commonwealth alive. They express friendship between nations, and the desire to share our common values, and our common wealth, for the good of humanity and the peace of the world.

"So, I call sports men and women from all the nations and territories of the Commonwealth to come together in four years' time in Queensland, Australia to celebrate the 21st Commonwealth Games."

Pop icon Kylie, then took to the stage to begin a blistering seven-song set.

The pop princess, one of Australia's best-known figures around the world, began with the song which arguably helped relaunch her career, Spinning Around.

The show, called All Back To Ours, is described as reflecting a typical night out in the Scottish city and volunteer performers were involved in telling a love story as Kylie sang some of her most well-known hits.

Australian and Scottish culture merged when Kylie's second song, Into The Blue, was set to a backdrop of people dancing to popular ceilidh dance the Gay Gordons, as the love story continued to unfold.

She performed Love at First Sight, All the Lovers and 80s classic The Locomotion - which got Hampden Park rocking, including Prime Minister David Cameron, First Minister Alex Salmond and the Earl of Wessex, who were all on their feet.

Kylie told the crowd before performing her penultimate hit Beautiful: "So much beautiful energy here tonight. I admire your commitment, your passion so much and I'm so grateful to be here. Thank you so much."

Smash hit Can't Get You Out Of My Head got performers, athletes, city staff and volunteers fully into the party atmosphere as her set came to an end.

Host Des Clarke then interviewed some of the athletes from countries including Barbados, Australia and England, with diver Tom Daley describing the Games as "amazing".

The ceremony rounded off with a distinctly Scottish flavour, with Dougie Maclean performing his classic Caledonia, a song which has grown to become a common part of Scottish culture and an unofficial national anthem.

The farewell rounded off in the only way a Scottish party could - with a mass performance of Auld Lang Syne featuring all of the ceremony's performers and the thousands in the audience.

A Lone Piper on the stadium's roof introduced the song, before Maclean, Lulu and Kylie joined in as the crowds crossed arms in traditional style.

The celebrations were then completed with the finale fireworks.

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