S'poreans ring in big 51

Front row from left: Singapore's Olympic chef de mission Low Teo Ping, International Olympic Committee executive board member Ng Ser Miang and President Tony Tan celebrating Singapore's 51st birthday with the Olympic athletes and other guests at the
Front row from left: Singapore's Olympic chef de mission Low Teo Ping, International Olympic Committee executive board member Ng Ser Miang and President Tony Tan celebrating Singapore's 51st birthday with the Olympic athletes and other guests at the Grand Hyatt in Rio.PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO • It was a belated celebration for Singapore's 51st birthday, but there was more to cheer yesterday at the National Day reception hosted by the Singapore embassy in Brazil.

About 130 guests were at the reception held at the Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro. President Tony Tan Keng Yam attended the event alongside some of the national athletes competing at the Olympics.

Said Dr Tan: "When our National Anthem was played in the Olympic Aquatics Stadium, it was one of my proudest moments, and I am sure it was the same for all Singaporeans.

"This happening shortly after Singapore celebrated our 51st National Day must have been the best birthday gift, and shows the promise Singapore's next chapter can offer."

The historic swim by Joseph Schooling in the 100m butterfly was watched by several Singaporeans who are living in Brazil.

Among them was Ng Li Hao, a 32-year-old grain trader who has been in Brazil for three years.

He flew from Sao Paulo to Rio in time to catch Schooling's event.

Ng said: "The experience was magical and priceless, and completely worth all the trouble in getting the tickets.

"Not many Singaporeans can say they were there when our first Olympic gold was won."

May Chen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2016, with the headline 'S'poreans ring in big 51'. Print Edition | Subscribe