SINGAPORE – Team Singapore’s para-athletes embarked on a celebratory parade on Saturday (Sept 24) morning, amid a stunning line-up of gleaming Ferrari cars, London cabs and small but wildly supportive cheering crowds.
The 13-strong contingent, including three-time Paralympic champion Yip Pin Xiu, were waved off by over 100 supporters who had woken early to soak up the festive atmosphere at the Sengkang Sports Centre.
They made their way from Sengkang to VivoCity, with a pit stop at the National Library along the way.
Joanne Choo, at Sengkang with parents Ging Yang and Sally, said: “I read about Pin Xiu in the newspapers. She is an inspiration for me to work harder and to excel. I’m writing a speech about her for a public speaking course and want to see her in person.”
Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min, the guest of honour at Sengkang, hailed the team for “putting up a good show in Brazil”.
“You’ve been an inspiration to all of us,” he added.
The convoy passed by Sengkang Community Centre, Hougang Sports Centre, Braddell Heights Community Centre, Blocks 43 and 44 at Bendemeer Road and Bugis Junction before arriving at the library.
It received warm cheers along the route, particularly in Serangoon, where Yip lives.
Upon arrival at the library, a crowd of over 100 greeted the athletes. They included volunteers from Peace Connect and senior citizens from Kampong Glam, as well as students from Pathlight School.
There, the Paralympians were given tokens of appreciation by Singapore Management University, where Yip studies.
Among the crowd was former Olympian C. Kunalan, 74. He said: “These athletes have done something really unique that they’ve been doing for years, but without much support and visibility.
“I’m glad that there is new interest in para games and I hope this interest continues to keep up.”
Jennifer Ng was also there with her sons Choon Siang and Choon Khang. The latter has cerebral palsy and is going for swimming lessons later in the evening. He watched the replays of Yip and fellow swimmer Theresa Goh’s races. When asked what he would say to them when he saw them, Choon Khang, nine, smiled and said: “I’m going to say hi.”
After leaving the library, the convoy made its way past an enthusiastic cheering crowd at the Pinnacle@Duxton before arriving at VivoCity.
At the mall, a crowd of over 400 braved the searing afternoon heat to catch the athletes’ question and answer session, which saw among others, Yip revealing that she ate 20 sticks of ice cream before leaving for Brazil.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, the guest of honour there, thanked them for their efforts and said the country was “super super proud” of the team. She also expressed gratitude for the athletes’ support teams like their families, caregivers and coaches as well as organisations such as the Singapore National Paralympic Council and Sport Singapore.
The national anthem was also played, marking the end of the festivities, before the athletes mingled with the crowd, taking photos and chatting.
The parade celebrated the nation’s best-ever performance at the quadrennial Games, where swimmers Yip and Goh won two golds and a bronze respectively, and several others surpassed their personal bests.