For all the cross-border unity shown throughout the 2018 Australian Deaf Games, the old state rivalries could not be contained during Saturday’s closing ceremony.
NSW recorded the most points overall to take out the JML Cup narrowly from Victoria, to the delight of every team member present in The Cube Wodonga.
NSW team representative Stuart Clear accepted the trophy and later told The Border Mail of the longstanding duel between the two states.
“We’ve lost to them many times and we keep persevering and this time we got them, we pipped them at the post,” he said.
Competing at his third games, Clear played mixed netball, touch football and futsal over five days.
“It was very enjoyable, but I’m really worn out now,” he said.
Clear offered his thanks to Albury and Wodonga Councils for staging the event.
“We loved being here and I really applaud the community and the councils,” he said.
The NSW touch football squad claimed the Team of the Games award while Victoria swimmer Nicholas Layton was named Athlete of the Games.
Layton won gold, silver and bronze medals in the swimming program and also broke three games records.
The closing ceremony saw the Fijian team members perform the dance they couldn’t present at the games opening when flight delays prevented their attendance.
Games organising committee chairman Alex Jones said the Australian Deaf Games received incredible support.
“We’ve set a new standard having the games in a regional town,” he said.
The 2022 games will also be held regionally in NSW, with the exact town still to be confirmed. A “wrong envelope” led to the next games announced at first to be held in Disneyland, US, but nobody really believed that.
Mr Jones said the games overall ran smoothly across the 17 sports.
“We had a few incidents, a few injuries, a few people ended up at the hospital, look, that’s standard, it’s sport,” he said.
“At the end of the week it’s about the spirit of the games, about the deaf community getting together to reflect our achievement this week at the games, I’m very proud.”
Wodonga mayor Anna Speedie also hailed the success of the games.
“You see the joy and you see the delight, it’s been spectacular,” she said. “Sport crosses every divide.”