Latest update: 08/06/2009 18:17 +0300

Children, Sun And Sea!

NICOSIA, 1 June 2009 - Once more, Cyprus made history in the Games of the Small States of Europe. Keeping its promise to raise the bar in all aspects of the competition, the organizers started the XIII GSSE with a great Opening Ceremony, at the GSP Sports Complex, here, Monday evening.

The sun and sea of Cyprus were the focal points at the ceremony, which was enriched with the musical tradition of the country. Children played a vital role at the event. Eleven hundred from the specialized 'Sport for All' programme, aged 5-12, opened the Ceremony. With music from the album 'On the Dear Land' of composer Vasos Argyrides (including arrangements on traditional music of Cyprus played by the '21st Century Orchestra' of Moscow), 450 children dressed in blue entered the field, symbolising the Sea.

They took up all the length of the field to form an image of water. Then, 700 more children entered the Stadium dressed in yellow, representing the sun, and took position behind the 'sea' over the whole length of the Stadium. Spotlights fell on the children as they then sang 'My Little Bright Moon'--a traditional Greek nursery rhyme, referring to the secret underground schools operating during Ottoman occupation and empasising on the thirst for knowledge by the youth of the time--in Greek, English, French and again Greek.

'My Little Bright Moon' was then sang again by a large children's choir of the Cultural Club 'Diastasis', together with the Limassol Grammar School Choir. Following was a dance, in front of the Central Grandstand, with the 12 dancers using large plastic balls to perform.

After the dance, it was time for Mario Frangoulis. The world-renowned Greek tenor sang 'The Love of Fire'. After that, 30 dancers entered the field for another great performance, where they held and waved fabrics on poles, like flags.

Following was song 'Response' by Michalis Hadjimichail, with his lute and then the 'Echodrasi' group took the stage on a special podium, presenting an impressive program.

And them, the children and Mario Frangoulis again. The Stadium was floodlit and 250 children, forming eight circles, performed traditional Cypriot dances. Following that very exciting performance was again the famous tenor, performing 'Voyage to the Horizon', the official song (composer: Vasos Argyridis; lyrics: Babis Anayiotos) of the XIII Games of the Small States of Europe and concluding the artistic part of the Opening Ceremony.


Part II: "A Ceremony of Youth"

The delegations of the eight participating nations entered the Stadium, preceded by 600 children, dressed in yellow and holding white and green balloons, representing the colours of the Flag of Cyprus. Among the VIP’s attending were the President of the Republic of Cyprus and other Heads of State of the participating countries.

Delegations fell in position, as the President of the XIII GSSE Organizing Committee and President of the Cyprus Olympic Committee, Ouranios Ioannides, was the first to address the athletes.

Mr Ioannidis emphasized the need for a competition that will enhance intercultural relationships among athletes and fans of participating countries, sending messages of civilization, coexistence, appreciation and a common goal for a brighter future, quality of life, freedom, justice and friendship, calling the Games a 'Ceremony of Youth'.

Following was an address by the President of the European Olympic Committe, Mr Patrick Hickey, who expressed his certainty for a fantastic event "in this marvellous island, with such a rich heritage. These Games are important, because they emphasize the Olympic Spirit of the Athletes," said Mr. Hickey.

Accompanied by music from the Percussion Group “Echodrasi”, the Flag of the Games entered the field, carried by champions in the 12 sports that will be held at the Games.

Following was the oath of athletes, announced by gymnastics champion Irodotos Giorgallas. The oath of the judges was announced by Panayiotis Simeou.

The great moment had arrived, as the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr Dimitris Christofias went to the podium for the following words: "Let the Games commence!"

The first torch bearer to carry the Flame to the Stadium was the captain of the Basketball National Team of Cyprus and President of the Union of Cypriot Athletes, Panayiotis Trisokkas. Trisokkas delivered the Flame to Swimming champion Anna Stylianou, who won the most medals (4 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze) at the GSSE of Monaco. Anna then delivered the Flame to the Cyprus Volleyball National Team captain Panos Eracleous, who has participated at eight Games of the Small States of Europe.

The last torch bearer, who lit the altar, was Athletics champion Antri Sialou, who had participated at the last Games in Cyprus, in 1989.

Finally, 'Echodrasi' performed a five-minute demonstration of percussion instruments, just before Mario Frangoulis and his orchestra took over again for a 40-minute concert, accompanied by young new artist Yiorgos Perris--a grand finale to what is expected to be the greatest GSSE week in history.


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