SINGAPORE: A tremendous fortnight in Singapore has come to an end in spectacular fashion.
The 28th SEA Games, which saw 4,370 athletes from 11 nations of this region competing for glory over the past 12 days, were officially closed by the republic's President Dr Tony Tan at 8.40pm in a colourful and fascinating ceremony at the Singapore National Stadium on Tuesday.
Thailand reaffirmed their status as the region’s sports superpowers by becoming the overall champions with a total haul of 95 golds, 83 silvers and 69 bronzes.
The host – powered by their dominant swimming team, led by golden boy Joseph Schooling who bagged nine gold medals and broke nine Games marks – boast a record-breaking medal haul of 84-73-102 to finish second.
It’s their best-ever outing in the biennial meet since the 1975 SEAP Games in Thailand, where they also finished runners-up.
Singapore’s Olympic Council president Tan Chuan Jin hailed the Games as a “huge success”.
“These Games will be a memorable one for many of us for years to come,” said Chuan Jin in his speech.
As the curtains came down on the Singapore SEA Games, all eyes will now be fixed on Malaysia, the host of the next edition in 2017.
Chuan Jin, who is also Singapore’s Minister of Social and Family Development, handed over the SEA Games Federation flag to Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jaafar.
Tunku Imran then presented the flag to Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who received it on behalf of the Malaysian government.
Khairy then waved the flag, signifying Malaysia’s acceptance of hosting the Games for the sixth time. Malaysia last hosted the Games in 2001.
Following the flag-presentation ceremony, it was Malaysia’s turn to take centrestage, delivering a delightful performance entitled “Diversity in Motion”.
The 10-minute performance, directed by Mohd Arifwaran Shaharuddin, was broken into three parts – birth, rootedness and unity.
Accompanied by the musical score ‘Lahirnya Lagenda’, composed by MonoloQue, the performance tells the story of the origins of an idea and an inspiration, which took root in the nation, and finally a clarion call to ignite the idea for a united Malaysia.
The production comprised a 52-member crew, 57 dancers and two singers, including Najwa Mahiaddin.
Lasers, fireworks and DJ Ferry Corsten lit up the stadium after the Games flame was extinguished.
The closing ceremony veered from poignant to unpredictable as a tribute to Mount Kinabalu earthquake victims gave way to a parade celebrating Singaporean stamps.
*pics by IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/ The STAR