By Mark Etheridge
in Cali, Colombia
The ninth World Games came to a close here on Sunday night in a riotous celebration of colour and music and Team South Africa was right up there when it came to the final honours.
As has become the norm for these 10 days, the Colombian people like nothing to celebrate life and for two hours before the closing ceremony the stadium swayed to the infectious South American dance rhythm as giant blue balls bounced around the crowd on yet another balmy evening.
Messages of thanks to Cali for hosting the Games, flashed across the screen in a myriad languages before the various teams, lead by the official mascots,┬á marched onto the track.
The capacity stadium rose as one for a passionate rendition of the Colombian anthem, a goosebump moment if ever there was one.
Closing the Games was World Games President Ron Froelich, wearing a traditional sombrero vueltiao hat.
“Hola Cali, Hola Colombia… muchas gracias,” he told the crowd. “Everyone has done a fantastic job here and I truly hope that the World Games will one day return to Colombia.”
Accepting the World Games flag on behalf of Wroclaw, the Polish host city for the 2017 World Games, the mayor of that city, Mr Rafa┼é Dutkiewicz, said: “The 2017 World Games will be held in the middle of Europe in 2017 and I warmly invite all of you to come and be part of it.
Team South Africa improved on their performance at the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung, Taiwan where they won two bronze and a silver medal.
At the Colombian version of the Games they won a gold, courtesy of the rugby sevens side, two bronzes in the lifesaving code and then a bronze in the women’s tug-of-war competition.
For now it’s Adios to Cali and Cze┼ø─ç to Wroclaw.