Enchanting ceremony whets the appetite

Two exciting matchdays may have elapsed at the Youth Olympic Football Tournaments, but Singapore 2010's Opening Ceremony did not unfold until tonight. It was absolutely worth the wait, though, with a breathtaking 110-minute performance thrilling spectators.

The Float at Marina Bay - the world's largest floating stage - provided the ideal setting for the Opening Ceremony to the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, which run until 26 August. With the 25,000 audience clapping and chanting during the countdown to the event, fireworks initiated what was to prove a tremendous show.

First taking the stage were a series of dancing and singing performers, illustrating the glorious 45-year history of Singapore. A display characterised with music popular in its different periods relived the story of how the nation has developed from a port into a modern city-state in such an artistic way.

Onlookers were then treated to a tale of a young boxer, who exorcised the demon in his dream to bravely meet a huge challenge. The David-versus-Goliath theme is one that can relate not only to sporting competition, but also to everyday life. Some dancing followed, before the flag-bearers for the 204 participating countries took to the stage.

Next up was International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge: “Tonight we open a new chapter in the history of the Olympic movement. From this moment on, young people around the world have a chance to participate in a global forum that combines sport, education and culture.”

The highlight of the night came when 16-year-old Darren Choy, Singapore's high-profile world sailing champion, had the honour of lighting the Olympic flame. Holding the torch high, the youngster ran across the reflective pool, taking steps to the platform to set the cauldron ablaze. It was the perfect endnote to the initiation of this ground-breaking Youth Olympics, during which 3,600 athletes will compete in 26 sports across 18 venues.