COMMONWEALTH athletes, officials and volunteers gathered together last night to celebrate the end of the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games.
A special ceremony was held at the Villa Marina in Douglas to mark the end of the sporting event which started on Thursday.
Motorcycle stuntman Steve Colley entertained the crowds with some spectacular skills in the Villa gardens – with one athlete from Guyana so taken by his performance that he filmed it on his laptop.
Local drummers from the SambaMann group helped to create a carnival atmosphere as the athletes assembled in their teams for the final closing parade which saw them travel along the Villa Colonnade, part of the promenade and back into the gardens.
Members of the public and passing cars showed their appreciation of the athletes by clapping and beeping their horns as they passed.
Athletes were then asked to assemble in their sports, as opposed to their teams, as a mark of the friendships they had created during the sporting event.
The Island's Lieutenant Governor Adam Wood and Chief Minister Tony Brown were in attendance as the Isle of Man's national anthem was performed by Manx piper Richard Barks.
Community, Culture and Leisure Minister David Cretney opened the speeches by paying tribute to the athletes, officials and volunteers who had helped make the games a success.
He said: "To all the competitors and teams, despite a little wind and despite a little rain, you've been fantastic. You've represented your nation with pride.
"To the Orange Army – the 1,000 plus volunteers - despite a little wind and despite a little rain without you all, quite simply, this event would not have been possible. You have made me proud to be Manx – thank you all.
"We promised in Pune (India – the location of the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games) that the youth of the Commonwealth would arrive as our guests and leave as our friends – our little nation with such a big heart has made that come true big style. We've kept our promise.
"I know you will never forget your time spent here and we will never forget your visit. Safe journey home friends. Spread the good news story that is the Isle of Man."
Michael Fennell, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, praised the Isle of Man for hosting the event.
He said: "Thank you Isle of Man you've done a magnificent job and certainly we will remember not only the performances here but also the friendship that has been displayed by every single person we have come into contact with.
"I know that over the past few days the weather has been at times unkind but despite the problems in uncertain weather this did not deter the volunteers, the organisers, and all the officials from carrying on and above all the athletes from competing.
"You the athletes of the Commonwealth have been truly magnificent. The organising committee has assembled a team that has done work beyond the call of duty."
The next Commonwealth Youth Games will take place in Samoa in 2015. To mark this a ceremonial Quaich - which symbolises love and freindship - was presented to Viu Tapasu Leung, the president of the Samoan National Olympic Committee.
He said: "All I can say is that we will be very pleased, excited, eager and very honoured to host you all in Samoa in 2015. As we are engaging our youths of today in these sporting activities we are at the same time nurturing them to become better leaders of tomorrow. It is now Samoa's responsibility to ensure the legacy of these games must go on."
As an introduction to the next host nation a troupe of Samoan fire dancers treated athletes and spectators to an amazing display of fire dance accompanied by traditional Samoan music.
With that the official proceedings were complete and the athletes were able to let their hair down – probably for the first time since they arrived in the Island.
They were treated to a line up of entertainment including a performance from local band The Same, part of the Youth Service's Soundcheck project, and a disco, run by Jack Divers and Liam Moorhouse, which saw athletes from the different nations come together as friends rather than competitors.
Tosha, the official Commonwealth Youth Games mascot, even got in on the action by having a dance off with a number of competitors.
Island musician Davy Knowles took to the stage to close the ceremony - with Simon Campbell and the Very Very Bad Men, backing singers and other guest performers sharing the stage with him - to perform a number of his songs including the official Commonwealth Youth Games anthem Reach Higher.
Sadly a planned fireworks display which was due to close the ceremony was cancelled due to the adverse weather.
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