Biggest S'pore contingent of 166 at Para Games

Sailors Jovin Tan and Yap Qian Yin won gold at the Asian Para Games last year. He is aware of the extra pressure on home ground while she is excited about performing in front of family and friends.
Sailors Jovin Tan and Yap Qian Yin won gold at the Asian Para Games last year. He is aware of the extra pressure on home ground while she is excited about performing in front of family and friends.ST FILE PHOTO

A total of 166 athletes will fly host Singapore's flag at the Dec 3-9 Asean Para Games, 21 more than the original number that was announced last month.

The Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) unveiled the revised figure yesterday, taking into account athletes who were given the green light to compete following appeals.

The contingent will be the biggest yet that Singapore is fielding at the biennial Games.

It is also the first time the Republic is competing in all 15 sports.

Singapore's previous largest contingent was at the 2008 edition when 59 athletes took part.

Team Singapore will be competing in perennial favourites like swimming and athletics and new ones like goalball and powerlifting.

At the last Games in Myanmar, Singapore vied in just five sports.

About 60 per cent of the athletes will be competing at the Asean Para Games for the first time.

Among them is Yap Qian Yin, who sailed to a gold with partner Jovin Tan at the Asian Para Games in South Korea last year.

She is looking forward to competing in front of family and friends.

She said: "Most of my other races are held overseas but, this time, I'll have family members coming down to support me. It's going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

While familiarity with the weather and wind conditions will be helpful, Tan said there is the pressure to do well at home too.

He said: "A lot of people will be expecting us to do well. And we are sailing in a new environment - Marina Bay, where we have never trained before... the wind might be tricky and inconsistent because of the skyscrapers around. But I'm used to the hot weather here."

Badminton player Tay Wei Ming hopes that more Singaporeans will come to learn about, accept and be impressed by disability sports.

He said: "It's going to be an eye- opener for a lot of people, especially for wheelchair badminton because not many people have heard of the sport.

"It will let people know that not only able-bodied people can play badminton and do well in the sport but the disabled too."

In a bid to drum up anticipation and raise awareness for disability sports, the Singapore Asean Para Games Organising Committee has been running roadshows and invitational events.

These included a friendly para-table tennis invitational tournament in July. There is also a para-football competition scheduled for tomorrow, featuring the likes of former national players Fandi Ahmad and Lim Tong Hai, who are guest stars.

A powerlifting event is expected next month.

Said Mark Hon, vice-chairman of SNPC: "Our athletes have been training so hard for months. I've seen them in training and I can say they are going all out for Singapore.

"The Asean Para Games is a fitting finale for Singapore's Golden Jubilee celebrations and we believe that it will enhance the profile of disability sports and our athletes.

"We encourage Singaporeans to come out in force to support our athletes as one Team Singapore."

The Asean Para Games will see about 3,000 athletes and officials from 11 countries participate.

Entrance to all events is free.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2015, with the headline 'Biggest S'pore contingent of 166 at Para Games'. Print Edition | Subscribe