Canada Summer Games celebrates massive turnouts with grand closing ceremonies

Thousands of athletes and volunteers got a gigantic send-off at the Canada Summer Games closing ceremonies on Sunday afternoon.

Team 'Toba medal count hit 42

Athletes from across Canada streamed into Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg at the opening ceremony for the Canada Summer Games on July 28. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

Thousands of athletes and volunteers got a gigantic send-off at the Canada Summer Games closing ceremonies on Sunday afternoon.

The Games have exceeded expectations with massive crowds watching the sports and entertainment.

"There are so many examples of how Winnipeg — and of course Gimli and Kenora which both hosted events, too — the communities have just absolutely embraced these games. The spectator turnout has been incredible," said Jeff Hnatiuk, president and CEO of the Games.

Team Manitoba was led onto the field at Investors Group Field by flag-bearer Maddy Mitchell, who won five medals in canoe kayak.

Manitoba was also honoured by the Canada Games Council with the Centennial Cup, presented Sunday morning. It's given to a province or territory for exemplifying the pan-Canadian sport development objective at Canada Games.

"This is an incredible honour and a tribute to the dedication our athletes and coaches have put into their sports in preparation for Canada Summer Games," said Barry Moroz, Manitoba chef de mission. 

Early numbers show more than 150,000 people attended events over the two weeks of the games, Hnatiuk said. On top of that about 120,000 people went to the festival site at The Forks.

For the gold medal baseball game alone, where Team Manitoba took a silver, there were about 7,000 spectators.

"Baseball Canada tells us that's the largest crowd to ever watch an under-17 game in the country," Hnatiuk said.

Team Manitoba also showed the province's athletic prowess taking home 42 medals following a win on the volleyball court Saturday night.

"It really gives them their first exposure to what's called a multi-sport event like an Olympic games where they are in an athlete's village with athletes from all over the country," Hnatiuk said.

"It's a great preparation for them moving forward."

Seeing four years of preparation come together was special, Hnatiuk said, if not a little exhausting. 

But the Games organizers were kept busy Sunday, with closing ceremonies titled the Grand Summer Party, bringing athletes, volunteers and spectators back together at Investors Group Field to watch Manitoba's Sierra Noble, hometown favourite Fred Penner, Canadian country star Brett Kissel and a Canadian Forces flyover. 

"It's really an opportunity to send those athletes off in a very positive way. We are also in recognition of how the community has supported these games," Hnatiuk said.

They passed the torch on to Red Deer, Alta., which will host the 2019 Canada Winter Games. 

Full coverage of the 2017 Canada Summer Games