A flurry of fireworks reverberated around the iconic Maracana Stadium as sounds of music, with a generous offering of samba, ignited the atmosphere at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
Once at risk owing to huge budget cuts and poor ticket sales, the games, in a few days before its opening, took on a new life which made organizers and supporters alike breathe a deep sigh of relief.
Inspired by athletes ably using their disability to go beyond the incredible, the Brazilian public were moved to come out to demonstrate its support for sporting valour and excellence. It was not just a games. It was a sport extravaganza with deep meaning: the triumph of the human spirit over the physical and mental.
Thousands witnessed the closing ceremony which marked the end of a re-union of athletes of different skin colours, races, culture and creeds across the globe but which re-emphasized the unifying impact and deep bonds of sport.
The theme of the ceremony was ‘wrapped’ in the sounds of the human body which move our spirits and create rhythms which bring cultures together. The ceremony celebrated those who play an instrument but cannot hear; those who dance but cannot see; those who express themselves and tell stories of transformation. It applauded the ‘Spirit in Motion’ which embodies courage, determination equality and inspiration – values of the Paralympic movement.
Athletes mingled in friendship and said au revoir, some with greater happiness than others they having earned a coveted medal or more for their performances.
The Paralympic family flag was handed to Tokyo where, once again, the athletes will assemble in 2020 for the sixteenth Paralympiad.
The Jamaican team delegation, headed by Chef de Mission, Javon Campbell, was part of history and the journey that continues apace as the world searches for deeper values and truths for peace and unity through sport. ‘This has been totally fulfilling and an experience which has taught me more of the value of life and lives lived with greater abilities than their disabilities.’ Campbell said, as he reflected on the games now history.