Almost two weeks of action comes to a close in colourful ceremony

“KAP KHOON KHRAP” (Thank You) Korat was the message delivered by thousands of athletes and officials from all the 11 countries competing in the 24th SEA Games at the closing ceremony last night. 

After almost two weeks of competitions, the Games was officially brought to an end in a colourful ceremony at the His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary Stadium in Korat. 

Swimmers Miguel Molina of the Philippines and Natthanan Junkajang of Thailand were named the Most Valuable Athletes of the Games at the ceremony. 

The 23-year-old Molina, who resides in Tokyo, won four gold medals in the 200m and 400m individual medley, 200m breaststroke and 4x100m medley. 

The 21-year-old Junkajang also won four gold medals in the 100m and 200m freestyle and in both relays, 4x100m and 4x200m. She added a silver in the 400m freestyle and a bronze in the 4x100m medley. 

A real sparkler: Fireworks explode over the main stadium during the closing ceremony of the SEA Games in Korat.

Molina and Junkajang received 330,000 baht each and a trophy from Thai Prime Minister Gen Surayud Chulanont. 

The closing ceremony itself was a unique celebration of the various “creations” which could be seen throughout the Games. 

Before the start of the official programme at 6pm local time (7pm Malaysian time), the early birds in the stadium were entertained by an energetic song and dance performance entitled “A Message from the Heart”. 

Following the arrival of the Thai Prime Minister and other dignitaries, a four-minute “The Creation of Spirit” musical sketch showcasing Thailand’s rich traditional culture kicked off the official ceremony. 

It was followed by “The Creation of Friendship” and “The Creation of Celebrations” musical performances, accompanied by school students forming ‘human formations’ in the middle of the field. 

It was followed by the highlight of the evening – “The Creation of Sport Ceremony”. 

Dancers from Laos, where the next Games will be held in 2009, strutting their stuff during the ceremony on Saturday.

The contingents from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Timor Leste, Vietnam and hosts Thailand, marched into the stadium to music from their own nation and fireworks lit up the skies. 

The music for the Malaysians was ‘Burung Kakak Tua’. 

Unlike in the opening ceremony where there was a formal atmosphere, it was more casual yesterday with the athletes mingling freely. 

Following the closing ceremony speech, the Thai national flag and the official Games flag were lowered.  

The Games flag was passed on to the representative of the next hosts, Laos. 

All those present received a preview of what to expect in two years’ time when they were entertained by traditional performances by the Laotians. 

Next came “The Creation of Hope” segment, which ended with the extinguishing of the flame for the 24th SEA Games. 

Although the Games was over, the show still went on with “The Creation of Live World” and “The Creation of Happiness and Prosperity”.