My Games

Asean Para Games: Being at home a new experience

Swimmer Theresa Goh taking a wefie with wheelchair racer Muhammad Firdaus Nordin at last night's Opening Ceremony.
Swimmer Theresa Goh taking a wefie with wheelchair racer Muhammad Firdaus Nordin at last night's Opening Ceremony. PHOTO COURTESY OF THERESA GOH

Theresa Goh, swimming in her eighth straight Games, is S'pore's most bemedalled athlete at the biennial event with 22 golds. She will be sharing her experience and a selfie daily in The Straits Times

As I went through my usual routine a day before competition yesterday, a lot felt familiar - more so than at the other major events that I've competed at.

For starters, when I did a few easy laps in the morning in the infinity pool of the Marina Bay Sands where all the athletes are staying, it was the familiar Singapore city skyline that served as my backdrop.

Competing at the APG is also something I know well. This will be the eighth time I've got the red and white of Team Singapore on my back, the eighth time I'll dive deep into the pool in search of glory for country at the Games. There are the usual pre-race nerves, which show up right on cue, no matter how many competitions I've been to.

Yet, at the same time, it is also an entirely new sensation. This time, I am home.

When I competed at the first APG in 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, there were only two sports contested. I was still a wide-eyed 14-year-old, but I knew then that the APG had potential. Still, never did I think that it would amount to something like this.

My new experience this time is knowing that I'm at home and I've got friends and family on my side and up in the stands.

The build-up to, and support of, this APG has been nothing short of incredible. As I sat inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium watching the opening ceremony last night, I felt so proud to know that it is my country that is putting these Games together.

It is heart-warming to see, hear of and know that there is a whole nation backing us and rooting for us at these Games. For us athletes, it serves as extra motivation and I, for one, know that I will be giving all that I have in the pool.

Today, I will again go through a routine I've done hundreds of times before, as I get ready for the 100m freestyle and 100m breaststroke races.

I'm stocked up on the pre-race food I need to fuel my body, I've got my competition suit, swim cap and goggles all packed in my bags.

I know I'm prepared for competition. My new experience this time is knowing that I'm at home and I've got friends and family on my side and up in the stands.

It's a new feeling, but it's a good feeling, and I can't wait.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2015, with the headline 'Being at home a new experience'. Print Edition | Subscribe