Farewell to the 'greatest Games we’ve ever seen'
THE curtain came down last night on "the best Commonwealth Games ever", and global Games supremo Louise Martin declared Queensland had proved it could now shoot for the Olympics.
A dazzling closing ceremony starring Guy Sebastian, Dami Im, The Veronicas, Amy Shark and Yothu Yindi brought the 12-day Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to the finish line, a decade since they were envisioned.
It followed a dramatic last day of competition in which retiring para-sports legend Kurt Fearnley won his last wheelchair marathon, England pipped Australia for netball gold and organisers had to defend long delays in getting help for Scottish marathoner Callum Hawkins after his collapse near the finish line.
A rampaging Australian team reclaimed its position at the top of the medal tally from England, collecting 80 gold - our equal fourth greatest haul.
"It has exceeded my expectations," Aussie chef de mission Steve Moneghetti said.
Young performers fittingly took centre stage in the closing spectacular at Carrara Stadium. They included 12-year-old Gold Coast schoolboy Max Deffenti, who opened the show, teenage slam poet Solli Raphael and young dancers the Brat Pack Tappers.
Large areas of the stadium were virtually empty, but organisers insisted the Games had been a success, with 1.2 million tickets sold.
Queensland will use the Games as a springboard to lure even bigger events, including the 2025 world athletic championships and possibly the 2032 Olympics.
After his emotional retirement from international competition, a proud Fearnley had the honour of leading the Australian team into the stadium for the closing ceremony.
Pop veterans Kate Ceberano and Deborah Conway joined The Veronicas, Dami Im, Samantha Jade, Thandi Phoenix, Kira Puru and Emma Donovan in a 45-minute segment dubbed "Sisters".
Ceremonies musical director Katie Noonan, accused by critics of pushing herself on to centre stage in the opening ceremony, had a part in the celebration of female Aussie music icons from Olivia Newton-John to the Divinyls' Chrissie Amphlett.
The 15,500 Games volunteers, known as "Games shapers", were also honoured.
Games' 2022 host Birmingham also had a starring role in the ceremony, as Brit rapper Lady Sanity crossed to Birmingham for a live performance by the Birmingham Royal Ballet and People's Orchestra.
Ms Martin, the Commonwealth Games Federation president, said the stunning success of the Coast Games showed an Olympics was "definitely doable" for Queensland.