Yip Pin Xiu has two Paralympics under her belt, reached the heights of a Paralympic gold, but still feels the burden of expectation and her heart racing at the thought of next month's Asean Para Games (APG).
For her mission at the Dec 3-9 multi-sport meet that Singapore is hosting is not just to perform in the pool, but also to be an ambassador for disability sports outside of it.
"What I hope the APG will leave behind is for other Singaporeans to have a glimpse of para sports, to take time and understand it," said the 23-year-old swimmer.
"Para sports, like other sports, have different levels and the APG is just competition within the region, (but) I hope there will be more public awareness about para sports."
She shared her experience earned from Beijing 2008 and London 2012 yesterday with other para-athletes at a Team Singapore camp at the Singapore Sports Institute.
(The APG) is a way to kick-start a whole movement about disability sports.
GRACE FU, MCCY minister, on the Asean Para Games next month
The camp, held over the weekend, was organised to allow athletes time off their training schedules to reflect and bond ahead of the APG.
Organisers of the biennial Games, into its eighth edition, are hopeful that the multi-sport event will help build inclusiveness. They are using community outreach events to help raise the profile of disability sport.
Roadshows entitled Sport Without Boundaries, for example, started to hit the heartland over the weekend and will take place at 20 ActiveSG sport centres until the end of the month. Yip herself has participated in similar initiatives.
"We've never had something as big as the APG here," said the double Paralympic medallist, who will be swimming in the 50m backstroke, 50m backstroke and 100m freestyle.
"It excites me to know that my family and friends, some of whom have supported me since I started but have not seen me compete, will be able to come watch.
"Some of the games might not look competitive, but it doesn't mean that it's easy. It's also as tough, as difficult, and we need to be able to look at (disability sports) with a broader perspective."
About 3,000 athletes and officials from 11 countries are expected, with Singapore fielding 158 athletes across all 15 sports, its largest-ever contingent.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu visited the camp yesterday, even trying her hand at painting with some of the athletes.
She said: "I think we're at the start of a journey. When we talk about legacy, it's not just the Games. It doesn't end with the closing ceremony. It's about creating a movement for disability sports.
"(The APG) is a way to kick-start a whole movement about disability sports. This will be the start of a new phase in disability sports."
Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin, chairman of the Singapore Asean Para Games Organising Committee, also revealed that plans are afoot to look into an inclusive gym that caters to both able-bodied and disabled athletes.
In his address to the athletes yesterday, he reminded them that their influence at the APG will go beyond the competition arenas.
He said: "You are establishing a new legacy for Singapore - of reaching out to people of different abilities... (and) contributing to a larger vision."
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