Kim and Kwan put on memorable show as Special Olympics close in Pyeongchang

Tuesday, 05 February 2013
By Duncan Mackay

Kim Yu Na and Michelle Kwan at Pyeongchang 2013 Closing CeremonyFebruary 5 - A performance from figure skating stars Kim Yu-na and Michelle Kwan was the highlight of the Closing Ceremony of the 2013 Pyeongchang Special Olympics World Winter Games tonight.

It brought the curtain down on eight days of events and competition which had seen more than 3,000 athletes from 111 countries come under the motto "Together, We Can".

The Games had a higher profile than normal because of the fact that Pyeongchang is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics and this was seen as a major milestone in the build-up. 

Pyeongchang then handed over the Special Olympics flag to Los Angeles, site of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

The World Games alternate between summer and winter editions every two years.

Pyeongchang 2013 closing ceremony flag loweringPyeongchang 2013 passed the Special Olympics flag over to Los Angeles, who are hosting the 2015 Summer Games

After the handover, Kim and Kwan performed their eight-minute performance, which was choreographed by Canadian David Wilson, who has been working with Kim for eight years, including when she won the Olympic gold medal at Vancouver in 2010.

Kim has described Kwan, a five-time world champion, who won the Olympic silver medal at Nagano in 1998 and bronze at Salt Lake City four years later, as her childhood idol. 

Since her retirement from the sport in 2006, she has been working as a figure skating commentator and a goodwill ambassador for the  US State Department. 

Kim Yu Na and Michelle Kwan at Pyeongchang 2013 Closing Ceremony 2 jpgMichelle Kwan (left) and Kim Yu-na performed a special eight minute during one of the highlights of the Closing Ceremony

They started by skating to Mariah Carey's "Hero," and then, together with 18 disabled figure skaters from South Korea and abroad, to a medley of pop songs.

Popular Korean music groups, Wonder Girls, f(x) and EXO-K, put the finishing touches to the Ceremony.

Before the Closing Ceremony started, participants paid tribute to Gareth Cowin, a floor hockey player from the Isle of Man who died last Thursday (January 31).

The 25-year-old died of refractory septic shock shortly after arriving in South Korea.

The Isle of Man wore special ribbons during the Ceremony in his honour.

Na Kyung-won, the head of Pyeongchang 2013, hoped that the event will help advance the cause of intellectually disabled in South Korea.

Na Kyung-won waves to crowd at end of Pyeongchang 2013Na Kyung-won, head of Pyeongchang 2013, accepts the applause of Special Olympics chief executive Tim Shriver and the crowd

"We hope this event will lead to tolerance and acceptance in the most sincere fashion," she said.

"Thanks to this event, a lot of people are talking about the Special Olympics and the intellectually disabled.

"That's the first step.

"We have to sustain this momentum and accomplish even more after the Special Olympics."

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January 2013: Isle of Man athlete dies at Special Olympics
January 2013: Pyeongchang under spotlight as Special Olympics World Winter Games open
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