KUALA LUMPUR - A glorious display of colours, lights and fireworks marked the beginning of the 29th SEA Games on Saturday (Aug 19), with Team Singapore athletes among the 85,000 at the new-look Bukit Jalil stadium celebrating two more medals clinched yesterday.
The Republic added one gold and one silver to its haul this morning, with marathoner Soh Rui Yong retaining his title while the women's water polo team won silver.
Tonight's opening ceremony was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Prime Minister Najib Razak and King of Malaysia Sultan Muhammad V, who officially declared the 29th SEA Games open.
The contingents from the 11 participating countries were welcomed by official Games mascot Rimau (tiger in Malay).
Shooter Jasmine Ser, who will compete in her sixth SEA Games here, was Singapore's flag bearer.
The 26-year-old was one of 230 athletes and officials from the Singapore contingent who marched out yesterday.
Also present were footballers Irfan and Ihksan Fandi, shooter Martina Veloso and silat exponent Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin.
Hosts Malaysia had three world champions as their flag bearers - Azizulhasni Awang (cycling), Cheong Jun Hoong (diving) and Al-Jufferi Jamari (silat).
Olympic Council of Malaysia president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Jafaar welcomed the region's athletes, officials and supporters to the Malaysian capital.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also chairman of the 29th SEA Games organising committee, then delivered and impassioned speech in English and in Malay.
"Our countries are not only fast developing, but we now have Olympic and world champions," said Khairy.
"These and the future champions were and will be born at the SEA Games. And for many of them, the SEA Games will remain special because this is where it all began."
Malaysia's national high jump record holder Nauraj Singh Randhawa led the athletes' oath.
A 20-minute performance illustrating the history of Malaysia and its neighbours was the centrepiece of tonight's event.
Decked in costumes of different colours and toting various props and musical instruments, the performers served up a visual and aural treat as they sang and danced in formation.
About 6,000 people including performers, volunteers, children and the armed forces were involved.
The SEA Games torch was then brought into the stadium and passed from Malaysia's athletes.
Olympic diver Pandelela Rinong then handed the torch to fellow diver and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Nur Dhabitah Sabri, who lit the Games cauldron.
A fireworks show signalled the end of the two-hour event.
The sporting action continues tomorrow, with Singapore's netball and men's water polo teams - both defending champions - seeking to retain their titles.
Singapore is sending its largest away contingent of 568 athletes, who will seek to better the nation's best away haul of 43 gold medals from the 2007 Games in Korat.
With nine medals (three of each colour), Singapore is second in the standings behind Malaysia (7-4-5).