Commonwealth Games 2002
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Features Sunday, 4 August, 2002, 23:32 GMT 00:32 UK
A wet and wild farewell
A genuine buzz around the stadium at the end

They promised even more sound, colour and fireworks at the closing ceremony but what the organisers forgot to mention was rain - and lots of it.

Still, Manchester just wouldn't be Manchester without more than the odd downpour.

So few could argue against the conditions being entirely appropriate for the multi-million pound closing extravaganza.

Near the start of the proceedings, a group of children came into the arena carrying a large wrapped gift for the Queen.

No doubt, many of the audience were hoping it would contain a huge umbrella, but alas out popped a giant postage stamp.

The athletes at the closing ceremony
The rain tried - but failed to dampen the spirit

Of course, the rain did add a new dimension to the speeches by the Commonwealth dignitaries.

We were told before the ceremony that the costumes of the thousands of cast members had been designed to "withstand a downpour".

No such luck for the dignitaries, who must have been itching to get off that sodden central platform during the lowering of the official flag.

Watching Commonwealth Games chairman Charles Allen declare Manchester as "great" with a long stream of water running down his arm was truly a sight to behold.

'Nothing left to prove'

By the time the Games' next hosts Melbourne 2006 did their bit, the thought of emigrating might have been quite tempting, but for the fantastic buzz at the 38,000 sell-out event.

The cast kept to the script with ear-to-ear smiles adorning their faces and the crowd kept cheering - nothing could rain on this parade.

However, Manchester's finale was about more than just braving the elements.

We had witnessed a host of sporting stars at the opening ceremony, but what about the home-grown talent?

It duly arrived at the closing ceremony by Morris Minor in the form of Tracy Shaw and Steven Arnold, stars of TV soap Coronation Street which is set in the fictional Mancunian district of Weatherfield.

The world's longest soap maybe, but world class?

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The organisers were going for the 'School Disco' vibe rather than 'Party in the Park'
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Then came former M-People lead singer Heather Small, hip hop legend Grandmaster Flash and former Eurythmics star Dave Stewart with his specially composed tune for the Games.

With such a selection of stars from the 1980s and 1990s, it was clear the organisers were going for the 'School Disco' vibe rather than 'Party in the Park'.

Even Pop Idol winner Will Young was staying predictably retro with his cover version of Sweetest Feeling.

But despite the pop and pomp, there was genuine emotion running through the stadium.

What made this farewell so special was the fact Manchester had nothing left to prove.

At the opening ceremony there was an air of nervous anticipation - plenty were cynical about whether the city could pull off this giant sporting bonanza.

Now though, the hosts had proved their point, so apprehension was replaced by vindication and relief.

As the fantastic firework display at the end demonstrated, even rain and pessimism could not dampen the spirit achieved over the last eleven days.

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