Singapore will field its biggest contingent at next month's Asean Para Games (APG) with the hope of bettering its record haul from the 2001 edition, but its final position on the medal standings should not be the sole priority of the Games.
Instead, expectations are focused on ensuring that local para-athletes give their best while cheered on by a passionate home crowd, said Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng.
He was speaking on the sidelines of yesterday's launch of the ActiveSG APG Challenge at the Sengkang Sports Centre.
The initiative aims to introduce the public to the 15 different APG sports and allow them to try first hand a modified version of para sports like boccia, goalball and wheelchair basketball. It will be held at up to 10 ActiveSG Sports Centres islandwide over the weekends until the start of the Dec 3-9 Games.
Said Mr Baey, who participated in the goalball booth yesterday: "More than half of our athletes are first-timers and a lot took up the sport because of the Games... The other countries have trained for years, so it might not be fair to compare with them.
Challenge over four weekends
Full schedule of the ActiveSG APG Challenge over the next four weekends. They start from 9am and end at 6pm and are at ActiveSG Sports Centre unless stated.
Today, Nov 21-22
Jurong West, Clementi, Yio Chu Kang, Choa Chu Kang, Toa Payoh, Jalan Besar, Hougang, Sengkang, Pasir Ris, Tampines.
Jurong East, Bukit Batok Swimming Complex, Yishun Swimming Complex, Woodlands, Delta, Bishan/Ang Mo Kio, Serangoon, Katong, Bedok.
Jurong East, Bukit Gombak Sports Hall, Yishun, Woodlands, Delta, Bishan/AMK, Serangoon, Katong, Bedok.
"At the end of the day we try our best, we should also look at not just the medal tally but also how we have appealed in our outreach to the public and also be a good host to the athletes from overseas."
Hosted in Singapore for the first time, at a cost of $75 million, the 8th APG will see 3,000 athletes and officials from 11 participating countries. Entry is free to all events.
The Republic will be represented by 158 athletes, with more than 60 per cent of them debutants. The country's best showing was at the inaugural 2001 edition in Kuala Lumpur where it won 16 golds, 10 silvers and 11 bronzes.
Organisers are stepping up efforts - a mass rally will be held at Marina Bay next Saturday - and hopefully this will create greater buzz, added Mr Baey.
"The plan is there to raise awareness. A lot can be done, that's why we're going to all the heartlands and sports centres... Hopefully people will take notice and wonder what's so different about the Para Games and will want to experience it for themselves."