Inaugural Asian Para Games concludes with flame and spirit to stay forever

08:02, December 20, 2010      

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Dancers perform during the closing ceremony for the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Para Games in Guangzhou, capital city of south China's Guangdong Province, on Dec. 19, 2010. (Xinhua/Chen Yehua)

The inaugural Asian Para Games saw the curtain rolled down in the Aoti Main Stadium here on Sunday evening, with the flame and spirit to be kept in Guangzhou forever.

Dato' Zainal Abu Zarin, the President of Asian Paralympic Committee (APC), declared the Games close and hailed the Games "the best Games for athletes ever staged in Asia so far".

"The last eight days will live long into our memories, but I am sure the legacy of these Games will last even longer," said the head of APC in his speech.

Before the flame to be doused, the torch which ignited the caldron at the opening ceremony, was lit from the caldron. Six people, shaping a Chinese character "Human Being" on the man-made cliff, passed the torch down the cliff and the flame was finally handed over to Wan Qingliang, Mayor of Guangzhou.

The flame as well as the spirit of Asian Para Games will be kept in this city, known as the Flower City, forever.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the stadium came to an emotional moment as 18 photos of the disabled athletes, fighting and cheering during the Games, were showed on the screens.

Dubbed "You make the world different", the 1.5-hour art performance, realizing the vision for the Games "We cheer, We Share, We win", was comprised of three chapters, namely Sky and Sea, Leaf and Vein, and Light and Dream, highlighting the commitment and determination of the disable athletes.

During the Light and Dream chapter, the soulful sound of violin came along with the spotlight in which there is a disabled athlete on the track.

The athletes was running hard and every step took him considerable efforts. As sweat came out all over his face, he kept running to the finishing line, where his coach was looking at him, and although mutely, encouraging him. After hitting the finishing line, the athletes hugged with his coach and kneeled down with tears coming out from his eyes to touch the hearts of audience in the stands.

Basking in the glory and pride, the 8-day sports gala for the disabled athletes across Asian, featuring 2,512 athletes from 41 member countries and regions of the Asian Paralympic Family to take part in a total of 19 sports, provided a platform for the athletes to realize their dreams and show the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality.

"Thank you Guangzhou for staging the most amazing and spectacular Asian Para Games. The benchmark for future Para Games has been set in terms of participation, performance and venues, particularly the humanistic spirit demonstrated," said Dato' Zainal Abu Zarin in his speech.

"You promised a Games of equal splendor and I'm delighted to say you duly delivered."

Asia has a long and proud history in staging major Paralympic events, dating back to the first FESPIC Games (the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled) in 1975. But it is the first time that a multi-sport para games runs parallel to the Asian Games in the same city and the same year.

After the dissolution of the FESPIC Games (the parallel sport event for disabled Pacific and East Asian athletes), the final FESPIC held in November 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And then, the FESPIC Games was replaced by the Asian Para Games, leaving the first host city Guangzhou with no precedent for preparation.

However, the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Para Games Organizing Committee (GAPGOC) managed to stage a successful Games and fulfilled their promise of "two Games with equal splendor".

Competition and training venues as well as many other facilities used for the 16th Asian Games have been converted to be accessible for the Asian Para Games participants. Transport, catering and medical service as well as the classification world all meet of requirements, setting a standard for the future host cities to follow.

During the Games, Guangzhou residents, holding their valid ID cards, were provided with free Games tickets while spectators can enjoy gratis public transport. The friendly citizens of Guangzhou provided enthusiastic support for the athletes and the 19 competition venues were filled to more than 90 percent of their capacity on average.

In return for the encouragement and support from the stands, the athletes inspired the spectators with fighting spirit and great sportsmanship, as well as many outstanding achievements in competitions.

Medals of the first-ever Asian Para Games were won by 31 of all the 41 countries and regions. Twenty athletes from 6 delegations had broken 17 world records a total of 21 times and 74 athletes from 13 delegations had broken 82 Asian records 98 times.

In the speech of Dato' Zainal Abu Zarin, he also honored the volunteers who have helped to make the organisational aspect of the Games a success. Mothers of children with a disability present flowers to representatives of volunteers to show their appreciation.

Over 25,000 Games-time volunteers were assigned to, and carried out duties, providing a variety of services and some 500,000 city volunteers provided services at 600 service stations and 2,139 service stands in the city.

Before the caldron was extinguished, the flag of the Asian Paralympic Committee was lowered and a handover ceremony was held in front of the some 60,000 spectators. Wan Qingling handed the flag to Dato' Zainal Abu Zarin, who then handed it over to the President of South Korea Paralympic Committee.

As Guangzhou bid farewell to the Asian Para Games, many of the more than10 million citizens, especially those closely associated with the Games through their dedication and sacrifice, might have felt a sense of loss. But it shall not be hard for them to get over it, for the legacy of the Games will last long in the Flower City.

Source: Xinhua
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