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COLOURFUL CEREMONY MARKS END OF GAMES

IT was a night filled with fun, joy and colourful celebration as contingents, athletes and officials bid farewell to Kuala Lumpur following the conclusion of the 9th ASEAN Para Games Kuala Lumpur 2017 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday (23 Sept). Over the last seven days, sporting fans were treated with many exciting action and inspiring display of grit and determination by some 1,200 athletes from 11 nations. Deputy Prime Minister YAB Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi declared the Games officially closed at 9.12pm (Malaysian time), marking the end of the biennial Games which saw the setting of 40 new Games records in swimming, athletics and powerlifting. Sixteen sports and 368 events were featured in the week-long Games where 1,105 medals (369-362-374) were won, with Indonesia raking in the biggest share of 126 gold, 75 silvers and 50 bronze medals to emerge overall champions for the second time in three years. Malaysia came in second overall with 90-85-83 while Games favourites Thailand, the six-time champions, settled for the third overall spot with 68 gold medals. The night was filled with vibrant musical performance and showcase which include the performance by the country’s top international singer, Yuna. The Games’ flame was completely extinguished at exactly 9.18pm (Malaysian time), marking the official end of the biennial Games which had started on Sept 17. In his speech, the Paralympic Council of Malaysia (PCM) President SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin paid tribute to athletes and thanked the organisers for a great sporting show. ASEAN Para Sports Federation (APSF) President Maj Gen Osoth Bhavilai, meanwhile praised the Malaysian government and the Malaysia Organising Committee (MASOC) for supporting and the staging of a smooth Games. “On behalf of the ASEAN Para Sports Federation, I wish to thank the Malaysian Government, MASOC, sports officials and federations, for making this a great Games. “Thank you to all the 4,000 WAU Factor volunteers! Thank you to all spectators and fans for the great show of support! Congratulations to Indonesia for winning the Games! To athletes, you are all winners! Well done!” he said. The customary handing over ceremony went smoothly soon after the lowering of the Federation flag. SM Nasarudin, in his capacity as Vice Chairman of the Malaysian Organising Committee 2017, handed the flag over to Minister of Youth and Sports and Chairman of the Malaysian Organising Committee, YB Brig Gen Khairy Jamaluddin. YB Brig Gen Khairy then passed on the flag to Maj Gen Osoth who then handed it to the President of the Philippine Paralympic Committee, Michael Barredo. Also present to witness the flag handing ceremony were Deputy Sports Minister and Commissioner of the Philippines Sports Commission, Arnold G. Augustin and Philippines Ambasador to Malaysia, His Excellency Charles C. Jose. Fireworks and a 30-minute performance by Malaysia’s singing star Yuna capped off a glorious night as contingents and athletes disperse and prepare to assemble once again for the 10th edition of the Games in the Philippines in 2019. Goodbye Malaysia, Hello Philippines!