Fine show is legacy of APG

Toh Sze Ning about to deliver the ball down the ramp in the mixed pairs BC3 third-place play-off against Greece. While she and partner Nurulasyiqah Taha were thumped 8-1, they did beat several higher-ranked opponents earlier. All in, the standard of
Toh Sze Ning about to deliver the ball down the ramp in the mixed pairs BC3 third-place play-off against Greece. While she and partner Nurulasyiqah Taha were thumped 8-1, they did beat several higher-ranked opponents earlier. All in, the standard of para-sports has moved to the next level. PHOTO: REUTERS

Largest contingent, record gold haul and personal bests mark progress for S'pore

A record participation number, a record gold-medal haul and personal breakthroughs for the athletes - it has undoubtedly been a fruitful outing for Singapore's para-athletes at the Rio Paralympics.

For Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang, chairman of the Singapore National Paralympic Council, the reason is clear: The Rio performance is a legacy of last December's Asean Para Games (APG) held in Singapore.

Then, the Singapore contingent won a record 63 medals, including 24 golds. The APG also prepared the athletes adequately for the bigger sporting stage that is the Rio Games.

Dr Teo said: "The Asean Para Games have created awareness of para sports, and I'd like to think that these Rio Paralympics have successfully reached out to the majority of Singaporeans."

For these Rio Games, the Republic sent its largest-ever Paralympics contingent, with 13 athletes contesting in six sports disciplines.

  • Team Singapore's Rio performance

  • ARCHERY

    • Nur Syahidah Alim reached the individual compound quarter-finals, losing 135-137.

    ATHLETICS

    • T52 wheelchair racer Norsilawati Sa'at finished fifth out of five in the women's 100m (29.03sec) and 400m (1:49.56).

    • Long jumper Suhairi Suhaini leapt to a personal best 6.69m in the T20 final.

    • F40 thrower Muhammad Diroy Noordin did not achieve personal bests in his events: He was 11th out of 11 in the javelin (22.71 m) and ninth of 10 in the shot put (7.29m).

    BOCCIA

    • Nurulasyiqah Taha and Toh Sze Ning lost the BC3 mixed pairs bronze play-off.

    EQUESTRIAN

    • Laurentia Tan was fifth out of 25 in the dressage championship test (Grade 1a) while Gemma Rose was 24th. Tan finished sixth of eight in the freestyle event.

    • Maximillian Tan finished 10th out of 11 in championship test (Grade 1b)

    SAILING

    • Jovin Tan and Yap Qian Yin ended up 10th out of 11 Skud18 teams. The duo pulled out after Yap suffered a seizure as they sat in seventh place after six races.

    SWIMMING

    • Yip Pin Xiu struck gold in both her events, the 100m and 50m backstroke S2.

    • Theresa Goh won her first Paralympic medal in the 100m breaststroke SB4. She did not progress beyond the heats in her three freestyle events.

The medal harvest was significant. For the first time in a single Paralympic Games, Singapore bagged two golds, courtesy of swimmer Yip Pin Xiu in the 50m and 100m backstroke S2 events.

A breakthrough bronze in the 100m breaststroke (SB4) from swimmer Theresa Goh - a veteran figure who has been to four such Games - also touched the hearts with her tenacity and perseverance.

The three-medal haul ranked Singapore 45th among 82 teams ahead of the final day of competition.

Besides the medallists, there were also close calls. For instance, boccia came close to a medal with Nurulasyiqah Taha and Toh Sze Ning beating several higher-ranked opponents before eventually losing in the bronze medal play-off to Greece.

It was the first time para-athletes outside of swimming and equestrian - which won medals in the last two editions of the Games- had a shot at a medal. Other athletes also broke their personal bests. Long jumper Suhairi Suhaini registered his best-ever jump of 6.69m.

Chef de mission Ho Cheng Kwee said he was "very proud" of the athletes, all of whom have had "a fantastic experience" at the Games, with many garnering invaluable experience.

One example is archer Syahidah Alim, who learnt from Rio that she may need to use heavier arrows to score well in windy conditions.

Besides stellar results, Singapore is also making waves outside the competition, with boccia player Nurulasyiqah campaigning for a four-year seat on the International Paralympic Committee Athletes' Council.

Although she failed in her bid, it was a clear message to the world of Singapore's intention to be an active participant for the Paralympic cause.

Said Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu: "The Games have also been more than just about the results, but it is how our athletes are inspiring our nation with their determination never to give up.

"In sports, we often have to deal with disappointments. We have to pick ourselves up and just keep going. Resilience is so important in sport, as in life."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2016, with the headline 'Fine show is legacy of APG'. Print Edition | Subscribe