Yip Pin Xiu still remembers the moment she heard the National Anthem playing in the Beijing Water Cube National Aquatics Centre.
She had just clinched the gold medal in the 50m backstroke at the 2008 Paralympics. It was the first time the Singapore anthem had ever been played inside a Paralympic arena.
Yesterday, at the Marina Bay Promenade for the One Team Singapore Rally, the 23-year-old heard the Majulah Singapura on stage again. This time, as Team Singapore's flag bearer for the Dec 3-9 Asean Para Games (APG), which the country is hosting for the first time.
"Both of them are times that I won't forget," said Yip.
"I got a lot of goosebumps, a lot of chills."
"When I was on stage just now during the passing of the flag, and I saw this place was overflowing with people dressed in red coming down to support us, I honestly got very overwhelmed and a little bit emotional that Singaporeans are being so supportive about para sports now," added Yip after the rally.
"It's very, very nice. I've not seen that before in my 11 years of competitive swimming."
This is the first time Yip is the nation's flag bearer at a major event. She was previously the flag bearer at the Asian Youth Para Games in 2009.
"It's amazing being the flag bearer for Singapore's first APG," she declared proudly. "I was very surprised. I wasn't expecting it.
"I consider myself one of the people behind the scenes due to the lack of events."
Yip, who was born with muscular dystrophy and started swimming competitively when she was 12, will be contesting three events at the APG.
Although pressure from the home crowd can be high, the swimmer, who became the first para-athlete inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame earlier this year, knows how to keep her nerves in check.
"No matter what the results are (for the APG), as long as I do my best, I'm happy about it," said Yip, who revealed that she has her sights set on getting gold at the Paralympics in Rio next year.
"Hopefully during December, Singaporeans will come down to support us to watch and understand what para sports is about, and hopefully get inspired and have a good time."
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