The 2nd Asia Pacific Outgames drew to a close in Wellington on March 19 with two nights of parties and a simple but moving closing ceremony, conducted in the same city square where Outgames participants had gathered for the first time a week earlier.

A streamer for Wellington 2011 was fixed to the Outgames flag, which was then presented to a representative from Vancouver, where the North American Outgames will be held in July.

Australian teams and athletes performed strongly throughout the week, with the Bentstix hockey team scoring a golden double across the men’s and women’s events, the Spikers volleyball team scoring gold and the Freezone volleyball team picking up silver medals in both A and B grades.

Individual Australian star performers included Matt Park, who won gold in the 5km men’s running road race, and Matt Webster, who heads home with a clutch of gold and bronze medals across the swimming and triathlon events.

“There were so many highlights during the week — the participants’ march to the opening ceremony, the Governor-General’s welcome, the cultural dinner,” Outgames co-chair David Hindley said.

“We saw top-class sports performances. The human rights conference, with more than 300 people attending, was an extraordinary event.

“But always, it is the individual experiences and stories which are the most touching. The greatest gift of events like the Outgames is the opportunity to share the lives of people you would never otherwise meet.”

Notable milestones for the Wellington event included a welcome from a head of state and a very high level of participation from women, at more than 40 percent of participants. There was also very strong support from the transgender community, particularly during the Human Rights Conference.

Hindley said the Outgames was likely to report a “very good” financial result, with funds to be available for distribution to GLBTI community groups in the Asia Pacific region. An announcement about this is likely in a few months’ time.

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