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Asian Winter Games concludes

27 February 2017

SAPPORO 2017: Australia has joined with other participating nations to farewell the Sapporo 2017 Asian Winter Games at the official Closing Ceremony on Sunday 26 February.

After eight days of competition involving more than 1,200 athletes from 32 nations, the Asian Winter Games came to a formal close with the final celebrations held in the Makomanai Indoor Skating Rink.

18-year-old Jakara Anthony was named the Australian Team Closing Ceremony Flagbearer and she was humbled by the news.

“It was really unexpected but also a really big honour to be thought of highly enough to be able carry the flag to represent Australia,” said Anthony.

The freestyle skier leaves Sapporo with a fifth place finish in the women's dual moguls and a sixth in the singles. While performance is an important priority for the World Cup athlete, the opportunity to experience the fanfare which accompanies a major sporting event was significant.

“It’s pretty awesome. I am humbled to be given the opportunity to do something that some of the greatest athletes we've produced have done.

“I’d like to think that I can be on top of my game and maybe have the opportunity to bear the flag at an Olympic Games one day."

As guests of this event, the young Aussie team has revelled in the opportunity to mix with Asia’s leading winter sport athletes and are more motivated to pursue their short and long term goals in their chosen sport, with many eying the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

Anthony said competing at the Sapporo Games gave her perspective on what it would be like to become an Olympian and compete on the world’s biggest stage.

“It does feel more real, I can see what all the hype is about now and this was just a small scale of what that would be like, so it’s a really big deal and it’s really awesome,” said Anthony who is now travelling to Sapin for the World Championships where she’s hoping to finish in the top ten.

Australia was represented by 30 athletes across eight sports in Sapporo and there were a number of promising results across the week-long event.

Cross country skier Casey Wright had Australia's best result, finishing third in the women’s 1.4 kilometre sprint on day one.

Top five finishes from Kailani Craine and Brendan Kerry in the figure skating also bode well for PyongChang qualification and consistent performances in the freestyle skiing is a sign of the strong talent that is coming through to push for Olympic selection.

Michelle Cook

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