THE journey of the 28th SEA Games flame has started with less than 24 hours to go to Friday's official opening ceremony.
On Thursday evening, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong lit the official SEA Games torch at the The Promontory@Marina Bay
The torch was subsequently passed on to six torch-bearers for a parade that saw the flame travel 2.5km, passing through iconic areas in Marina Bay such as Clifford Square, Merlion Park, Esplanade Outdoor Theatre, The Float at Marina Bay and the ArtScience Musuem before it was retired for the night.
The torch bearers included the oldest and youngest Games volunteers, Charles Eu, an 83-year-old retiree, and student Jesy Chea, who celebrated her ninth birthday on the day of the parade.
The fourth torch-bearer, Jayaprasad Jayaguru, 34, worked at the Youth Olympic Games when it was hosted in Singapore in 2010 and will also be volunteering for this Games.
"It came as a shock when they first invited me (to bear the torch)... I've always been one of those guys behind the scenes at these events so it's a privilege," he said.
"To me, the flame symbolises equality. In front of the flame, everyone is the same- no race, no colour, and we have one goal - excellence."
In another light-up ceremony at the Bay, Mr Wong and representatives from different community groups and Games partners placed 28 hand-held flames into a structure created by glass artist Tan Sock Fong. The art installation is one of 30 across the city area for the Torch Up! community programme.
Speaking in front of the 2,000-strong crowd, Mr Wong congratulated Team Singapore for its best-ever SEA Games start, with five golds, four silvers and seven bronzes won by Thursday evening and dedicated the final torch parade to Games volunteers for their hard work.
The flame had been kindled earlier on Thursday morning by ultramarathon runners, Lim Ngee Huat and Yong Yuen Cheng, who ran 50 km over 50 days in celebration of Singapore's 50th year of independence.
Using two parabolic mirrors, the runners harnessed the rays from the sun to ignite the torch. The flame was then transferred into a safety lantern.
"Mission complete," said a fatigued but relieved Lim.
The flame, in its safety lantern, will travel by water to the Sports Hub waterfront. On Friday, in its final leg to the National Stadium for the opening ceremony, 13 athletes, whose identities remain a closely-guarded secret, will carry the flame in a torch relay.
All these will then culminate in the lighting of the SEA Games cauldron.