Curtains come down on Special Winter Games
PYEONGCHANG, Republic of Korea — The Special Olympics World Winter Games Pyeongchang 2013 came to a close at the Yongpyong Dome here yesterday, while organisers officially handed over the mantle to the Los Angeles 2015 Summer Games.
The less than three-hour ceremony began with the parading of the 111 countries who participated in the thrilling and compelling eight-day long Winter Games and ended with mini fireworks and action-packed performances from local hip-hop artistes.
Floor hockey head coach Yolanda Reid and Keneil Hewitt were Jamaica's two representatives designated to lap up the warm farewell from the appreciative crowd.
Backed by the Games' theme song 'Together We Can', organisers highlighted the participating countries, the volunteers and all persons involved for their display of teamwork, passion, courage and spirit throughout the Championships.
Chair of the 2013 Games organising committee Na Kyung Won and chairman of Special Olympics International Timothy Shriver gave high praise to all the participants for their role in encouraging unity, friendship, coexistence, hope and world harmony.
The beautiful and fun-filled atmosphere was capped off by the breathtaking artistry of iconic American figure skater and five-time world champion Michelle Kwan and Korea's 2010 Olympic gold medal winner Yu-Na Kim, who performed a dance duet on ice.
In the midst of the joy and success, there was also somber as Isle of Man floor hockey player Lawrence Dyer gave a small tribute to his former teammate Gareth Cowin, who suffered multi-organ failure and died last week in Korea.
The 24-member Jamaica delegation, which enjoyed two silver medals in ice figure skating and another second place finish in floor hockey Division T1, returns to the island tomorrow (Feb 7).
The Special Olympic Games allow people with intellectual disabilities to display their talents and capabilities and is aimed at helping to break down barriers that exclude them from mainstream society.
The disabilities can either be genetic or acquired and can include cases of Down's syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury.