SINGAPORE - The click of cameras, flare of flashbulbs and punctuated instructions from photographers pierced the stillness and silence outside the OCBC Arena on Sunday afternoon (Dec 26).
Four of Singapore's top athletes had gathered to set off on a celebratory parade aboard an open-top bus, which took them from the Sports Hub through the city area and then back.
The four are: world badminton champion Loh Kean Yew, Tokyo Paralympics double gold medal swimmer Yip Pin Xiu, world bowling champion Shayna Ng, and pool player Aloysius Yapp, who became the first Singaporean to be ranked world No.1 in his sport.
The bus set off just past 1pm and the journey ended at 3pm.
Before he boarded, Loh, wearing a broad smile, said he was thrilled when he learnt about the planned celebratory parade.
"I'm quite surprised and very honoured," said the 24-year-old. "This is my first time going on a bus tour without a roof on."
Loh claimed the biggest milestone in his badminton career on Dec 19 when he beat former world No.1 Srikanth Kidambi of India 21-15, 22-20 in the final of the World Championships in Huelva, Spain.
Asked how life has changed for him since returning to Singapore two days after his win, he laughed and quipped: "I haven't had much time thinking about life!
"I've just been meeting friends… and replying to messages. A lot (of messages)."
The celebratory parade was arranged by the Singapore Sport Institute, in collaboration with Cuesports Singapore, Singapore Badminton Association, Singapore Bowling Federation and Singapore Disability Sports Council to recognise the athletes' achievements.
It was also meant as a way for Singaporeans to celebrate their success.
In view of the Covid-19 situation, however, organisers opted not to share specific locations and route details so as to avoid congregation, stating only that the parade would take place in the city area.
It also meant there were no stops in between.