A trouble-torn nation spent a rare fortnight of festivity, oblivious of its daily date with terror, as the curtains came down on the 10th SAF Games at the Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo on Monday evening.
The August 14 car bomb blast in the city saw a panic-stricken South African cricket team pack their bag and return to Johannesburg in the first available flight. But athletes, especially the Indian ones who were staying in the same hotel, were hardly moved.
Surprisingly, Colombo was rather a quiet place once the Games started barring a case where the police recovered some explosives from an abandoned bicycle.
By and large, the regional eight-nation, 20-discipline meet survived security concerns and the closing ceremony was splashed with all the hues of the rainbow as Sri Lanka showcased its rich cultural heritage this evening.
After playing a perfect host to 2500-odd sportsmen and officials from around the region, the Games ended with "See You In Dhaka 2008" message.
It was an evening of dazzling pyrotechnics as colourful fireworks, courtesy the Chinese government, lit up the Colombo sky to mark the end of a splendid event. Tradition and technology walked hand-in-hand and it was a befitting occasion to mark the end of the Games.
Folk dance by the fishermen, the Karagom dance and music performances were followed by a laser show and the grand signing off with the firework display.
Since President Mahinda Rajapakse's declared open the extravaganza on August 14 amid much fanfare and before Speaker of Sri Lankan Parliament WJM Lokubandara officially dropped curtains on the event this evening, all roads led to Sugathadasa Stadium, the hub of activity for the last 15 days.
Rajapakse congratulated all the athletes in his message.
"You added colour to the Games. We were proud to host you. Congratulations on your great achievements with many games records," he said.
Eight nations vied for top honour with 719 medals, and lot more, in stake. Star performers Susanthika Jayasinghe and Anju Bobby George added sheen to the event while Sri Lanka found twin teen sensations in swimmers Andrew Abeysinghe and Mayumi Raheem.