City of Masters!

GEORGE PARTHENIS and ANDREW HANON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

It's all over. Except for the clean-up.

Last night, thousands of participants and their supporters packed into Telus field to bid farewell to the 2005 World Masters Games.

Today, an exhausted games executive director, Barry Anderson, and his staff are busying themselves with the final clean-up of the headquarters.

Perhaps tomorrow they'll have time to reflect on the wildly successful 10-day event, that brought 21,000 competitors to the city and pumped millions of dollars into the local economy.

Anderson said the original games bid estimated that $15 million would be injected into Edmonton's economy and $31 million across the province.

"But that was based on 16,000 athletes, so the final number's going to be significantly higher than that," he said.

But what makes Anderson most pleased about the games is the way the community embraced the event.

"It was just outstanding," he said.

Participants and volunteers at the closing ceremonies heaped praise on Edmontonians for their pleasant and friendly attitude.

"We didn't do very well on the field, but we had a heck of a good time," said Team Australia athlete Graham Mcdonald.

"The city was wonderful, a great job. I thought it was especially nice to time it with all the other festivals like the Heritage Days. A great event."

There were a few bumps along the way.

Controversy erupted when Chinese representatives protested the use of the Taiwanese flag in the opening ceremonies, against Canadian policy.

The flag was banned from official use in the closing ceremonies, to the outrage of Taiwanese competitors.

Allen Heatley, also from Australia, says the only downside for him was a lack of souvenirs to buy, because they had sold out by the end of the games.

A woman with the Brisbane Redbacks softball team says she had a great time and praised the volunteers.

"We used the shuttle services, and we had very charming, friendly drivers who practically adopted us, they were so friendly."

Sherry Maslyk, an athlete from Edmonton, said the 5,500 volunteers made the difference.

"I can't say enough about the volunteers. I ran the 10k marathon, and the entire route was lined with volunteers, cheering you on.

"They don't know you, but they were cheering you on. It just blew me away."


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