World Police & Fire Games 2013
The 2013 Games, the first to be held in Europe, were an unqualified success for Belfast and Northern Ireland.
The closing ceremony of the World Police and Fire Games took place at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast, bringing the hugely successful 10-day competition to an end on Saturday night, 11th August. Kicking off with a Red Arrows flypast, the event celebrated the 7,000 athletes from 67 countries who took part in 56 sports at 41 venues across the region.
The ceremony included music from the Open Arts Choir, the PSNI Pipe Band and the Northern Virginia Fire-fighters Emerald Society Pipe Band, who represented Fairfax 2015 – the host of the next games. A parade of flags from the participating countries and the handing over of the WPFG Flag to Fairfax was enjoyed by a crowd of thousands before the final journey of the Flame of Hope. It was carried by Special Olympians and handed over to Jerome Williams of Fairfax 2015.Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “The Closing Ceremony officially lowers the curtain on a remarkable 10 days in the north. It is appropriate to look back on an event the like of which we have never seen before. That we could host the World Police and Fire Games might have been unimaginable a few years ago.
“Yet we have confidently welcomed thousands of competitors from across the globe to join in a sporting spectacular. The Games have further opened the eyes of the world to the north, they have come and experienced the best of what we have to offer. In return, they brought a significant boost to business and tourism in Belfast and beyond.”
The event has also helped open our own eyes to what we can achieve when we work together. We promised the friendliest World Police and Fire Games. The result is Belfast buzzing with visitors and a Games played in the spirit of competition and camaraderie.”
She said: “What the last ten days have done is reflect a vibrant, confident and forward-looking society. We invited the world to visit the north, thousands of people came and saw our best side – now they are heading home with fond memories.
“Everyone can be proud of the World Police and Fire Games 2013. It is a powerful example of what we can achieve when we work in partnership. As Minister I am pleased to acknowledge this and say thank you to all those involved. All that remains to be said now is best of luck to Fairfax for World Police and Fire Games 2015.”
Mike Graham, WPFG Federation President, added: “The 2013 World Police and Fire Games have been the friendliest and best games ever.
“The organisation and professionalism of the WPFG delivery team has been exemplary, the warmth and welcome of the many thousand volunteers has been outstanding, the support of the local people has been second to none and even the weather has been fabulous. The WPFG Federation is absolutely delighted with what has been the pinnacle of our Games to date and we are indebted to Belfast and Northern Ireland for making it happen.”
Mary Peters, patron of the Games, added: “It has been an honour to have been part of the team which brought the Games to Northern Ireland. I could never have imagined back in 2007 when we won the bid in Adelaide just how successful these Games would be.
“My greatest hope is that the wonderful athletes from all over the world who we have watched and cheered on will prove inspirational to our young people and encourage them to get involved in sport,” she continued. Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, described the benefits for Belfast as enormous.
“The success of these Games has been particularly significant for Belfast as the host city,” he said.
“This was an amazing opportunity for us to showcase our world class facilities and venues. We rolled out the welcome mat and – having spoken to so many visitors here for the Games – I am confident that they will now spread the word about what we have to offer and the good experiences they have enjoyed. This was a win-win for everyone. A great time was had by all – visitors and locals. Everyone enjoyed one big party!”
THE IRISH WINNERS
Swords native Cian Delaney was one of a team of five competitors from Dublin Airport’s fire services who successfully brought home a total of seven medals from the Games, four gold and three bronze. Cian claimed gold in the 30-34 yearold 12-mile cycling time-trial event with a time of of 27:41.
“It was a great weekend for us and the rest of the Irish representatives, we’re really happy with how it all went especially because of how big it is”, Cian said. ‘I’d like to say thanks to the chief airport fire officer, Mr. Gerry Keogh, who couldn’t do enough for us and to Mr. Pat Bracken of the Airport Police. We also couldn’t have competed without the help of the Emergency Services Training Institute who supplied us with team kit and the support of our colleagues in the airport police and fire service. The European Police and Fire Games are in Brussels in 2014 so hopefully we’ll have even more people competing there.”
Cian’s colleague Craig Sweetman came home with two gold medals and one bronze in the 40-45 year old category. Craig won the road race, riterium and the hill climb in his category, and also finished in third place in the cycling time-trial. Eric Flanagan, also of Dublin Airport Fire Service, picked up another gold medal when he triumphed in the mountain running event.
More WPFG records were broken by NIFRS athletes Robbie Neil and Ross McClean when they won Silver in the Indoor Rowing Team Sprint. On the athletics track, Mayo AC M60 masters champion Seamus Gaughan picked up four track medals in the M55 grade in the 5,000m, 1,500m and 10,000m. Seamus claimed bronze in his first two events, before taking silver in the long distance run with a time of 38:50. Seamus went on to claim gold in the 10k cross country race to complete his haul of medals.
Gerry Coleman from Curry, County Sligo, a member of the St. Mary’s & Collooney club, came away with three medals in the handball event. Despite stiff competition with players from Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Northern Ireland, U.S.A and Ireland all taking part in a strong international field, Gerry won bronze in the Over 40’s One-Wall, Bronze in the 40 X 20 Four Wall event and Silver in the Over 40’s doubles with L.A.P.D Officer Oscar De Silva. Gerry also claimed bronze with the Fire Service G.A.A Over-35 team and a silver medal in the dragon boat team of 10.
Meanwhile, in the Table Tennis event Northern Ireland’s Jay McCallister clinched a gold medal in the Grand Master Doubles, while also doubling up as umpire over the course of the event. Louise Long, a native of Cork now based at Blackrock, Dublin, also won two bronze medals in Doubles and Mixed Doubles. Irish tournament regular Adrian Flynn also registered two medals, a bronze and a silver in the B Division events.