A new chapter in Singapore's sporting history was written last night as the country extended a heartfelt welcome to the region's top para athletes at the 8th Asean Para Games (APG) opening ceremony.
The 90-minute spectacle featured more than 1,400 performers - able-bodied and people with disabilities - and was divided into five acts. Each celebrated the enduring journey of a disabled athlete.
Declared open by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, the week-long Games will see about 1,200 para athletes compete in more than 300 events. The Republic is hosting the APG for the first time and has offered a record 15 sports.
Among those at the Singapore Indoor Stadium for the sold-out show were Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.
In her opening address, Ms Fu hailed the athletes. "You have overcome challenges in life and shown us that sport is truly without boundaries. Your fighting spirit will inspire us to live better through sport and spur us to face life's challenges with courage," she said.
The loudest roars from the 6,000 spectators were reserved for Team Singapore's 154 representatives, led by flag bearer and swimmer Yip Pin Xiu. She later joined badminton player Tay Wei Ming and nine-year-old Aloysius Gan, who has cerebral palsy, as the final torchbearers to light the Games' cauldron.
There was more to cheer as Singapore beat Indonesia 1-0 in yesterday's opening match of the cerebral palsy football tournament.
Separately, sailors Jovin Tan and Desiree Lim yesterday secured their spot at next year's Paralympics in Rio. The two, however, will be racing against each other in the Hansa 303 class at the APG.
- SEE SPORT: