7 Fearn­ley in race to carry our flag

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - JEREMY PIERCE GREG STOLZ

WHEEL­CHAIR hero Kurt Fearn­ley will vie with swim su­per­stars Mitch Larkin and the Camp­bell sis­ters for the hon­our of car­ry­ing the Aus­tralian flag at the clos­ing cer­e­mony farewell party for the Com­mon­wealth Games tonight.

The in­te­gra­tion of paras­ports into the main pro­gram has been an over­whelm­ing suc­cess story for these Games and Fearn­ley (below), who will re­tire from in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion af­ter this morn­ing’s T54 wheel­chair marathon, is tipped as a slight favourite to earn flag-bear­ing du­ties.

Af­ter a widely panned open­ing cer­e­mony, or­gan­is­ers have promised to go out with the bang tonight with per­form­ers in­clud­ing Guy Se­bas­tian, Dami Im and Yothu Yindi.

There are still about 3000 tick­ets left for tonight’s sign­ing off ex­trav­a­ganza.

Games Min­is­ter Kate Jones yes­ter­day gave the Gold Coast Games an “A++” rating while chair­man Peter Beat­tie said they had b e en “bloody fan­tas­tic”.

M r Beat­tie said more than 1.2 mil­lion tick­ets had been sold in what was ef­fec­tively a “full house” and so­cial me­dia cov­er­age had been “ex­tra­or­di­nary”. Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk said the Games had shown the world that Queens­land has the ex­per­tise and an out­stand­ing legacy of sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties to host any num­ber of world-class events. She will send Ms Jones to Thai­land to­mor­row for the in­ter­na­tional SportAc­cord con­ven­tion in a bid to lure more big-name events. “The World Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships are a def­i­nite prospect,” Ms Palaszczuk said. “We have the right cli­mate and the spe­cialised in­fra­struc­ture in place now ready to go. “While we can rightly en­joy some re­flected glory we can’t ease up in lever­ag­ing more in­ter­na­tional con­tests to come here. And now is the time to act, while the Games are still fresh in the minds of the world’s top sport­ing bod­ies, ad­min­is­tra­tors and pro­mot­ers.” Ms Palaszczuk, who was snubbed in the open­ing cer­e­mony speeches, is ex­pected to tonight de­liver a clos­ing Games ad­dress about Queens­land en­ter­ing the “golden age”.

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