In the evening of June 4, five hundred participants of the Winners Games, along with their parents, team leaders and fans gathered for the closing ceremony to celebrate the victory and say goodbye until next year when the celebration will resume with new winners.
We could say that the unofficial parting ceremony began right after the last competitions of Day 3. Tired yet happy, children rushed to grab an ice-cream together, got their hair braided and faces painted, made garlands and stuck their faces in various tintamarresques for pictures. Children would present their favorite clowns with gifts and ask them to make summersaults one last time. They would go down slides together. There were no curfews, no limits on ice-cream, everybody could run around all they wanted; parents and team leaders seemed to forget all their worries and troubles of the three intense days.
By the time everybody exchanged their contacts and ate all the ice-cream, the official closing ceremony commenced. Mitya Khrustalev and Marina Kravets were hosts. They kept making jokes, Christina could hardly keep up translating their witty remarks. That fact was turned into a joke in turn.
First and foremost, Mitya and Marina wished luck to all the children who were currently battling their illness. The audience joined them in unison – everybody understands how important support is during medical treatment.
Although tired after a long day of competitions, the winners were enthusiastically greeting the guests who arrived at the ceremony to congratulate them on the final day of the Winners Games. Actors Maxim Matveev, Andrei Sokolov and Dmitry Pevtsov appeared on stage. Maxim confessed that he considered seeing these five hundred winners from all over the world as a proof that miracles do happen. Andrei Sokolov thanked the participants, their parents and all the organizers for their combined efforts. Dmitri Pevtsov devoted his short and sincere speech to the courage of parents.
Sergei Shilov, a six-time Paralympic champion, followed the actors on stage. “Who are the winners here?” he asked the crowd. “We-e-e-e a-a-a-a-re!”, a thunder of voices resounded. Sergei congratulated all the young athletes and their parents and wished them future accomplishments in sports. “After long months and sometimes years of complicated medical treatment it is sports that helps us return to life. A child starts training, sets certain goals for himself and reaches those goals. He wants to be faster, better, sharper, works on his skills and disciplines himself. Then come competitions, which brings new acquaintances and friends. All this helps the child later in life. It’s easier to get back to school, get used to regular schedule and physical strains. I come to the Winners Games every year, this atmosphere is very familiar to me - I’m an athlete. I wish you more events like this, new achievements in sports and in life!”
A lot of thankful speeches sent into the audience – to the ‘photogang’, a group of young photographers from the project “We Live on This Earth”, who have been photographing the Games for seven years now; to the team leaders who have been constantly supporting their charges through the three days of competitions; to the organizers who have invested so much of their soul, time and efforts to make this event possible. The hosts reminded everyone that many volunteers had taken vacations at work or take their exams ahead of time at colleges to be able to spend the time with children at the Games. And, of course, gratitude was expressed towards all the non-profits who sponsored teams and players – without their generosity an international event of this grandeur would not be possible.
And finally, the moment came for the most precious moment of the closing ceremony – the official flag of the World Children’s Winners Games VIII was brought down. Kayaan Anklesaria from India, who had won four medals this year, did the honors.
Once all the formalities were over, the Winners Games were officially closed a long-awaited final concert began. For an hour and a half, children and adults were singing and dancing to the music of Vladi Blaiberg, Burrito, Pizza and Quatro. Each performer and group was met with enthusiastic applause. Right by the stage, children were saying goodbyes, telling each other thing they hadn’t had time to tell before, and simply dancing together. We think that every one of these five hundred kids will return home full of memories and, most important, having made true friends at the Winners Games.
We congratulate all the participants, organizers, volunteers and everybody who supported, inspired and was there for these kids through thick and thin. We hope to see everybody in Moscow next year! And, of course, we would like to thank all those whose sponsorship and partnership made the Winners Games possible this year.