Singapore's successful hosting of the 8th Asean Para Games gave contenders an opportunity to celebrate the competitive rationale of sports, but with an important difference. Leading sporting events, culminating in the Olympics, epitomise the physical and mental reach of the human frame. The levels of training, endurance, and performance under pressure which they achieve set the pace for the sporting imagination the world over. The spectacles enthral millions and enthuse the next round of hopeful participants, who sweat over how to exceed those exemplary displays of human endeavour. Those contests are held among the able-bodied who define the concept of excellence in sports.
But excellence is not limited to them. The spirit of the Paralympics reveals how standards of achievement prevail equally among those who cannot compete with the able-bodied. Excellence is not a final goal set by some, from which others are excluded naturally because of disabilities or infirmities. Instead, excellence is a social concept to be striven after by all at their particular level of ability. The best do not belong to a rarefied band of achievers: They are drawn from every part of a diverse human community marked by physical differences. The widening of physical horizons gives sports a social depth that it would not have possessed otherwise. Sporting events, for all their frequency, are but peaks on the plateau of existence. The physically or mentally challenged inhabit the plains every day. To integrate them into society, to empower them with the dignity of acceptance is a more arduous task than to fete them at games.
This must remain the goal of all societies.