Para sports: Record medal haul for S'pore para-athletes at Asian Youth Para Games

(From left) para-swimmer Wong Zhi Wei (3 golds, 2 silvers), para-swimmer Danielle Moi (2 silvers 1 bronze), Games chef de mission Yip Pin Xiu and para-swimmer Colin Soon (2 bronzes). PHOTO: SINGAPORE NATIONAL PARALYMPIC COUNCIL

Singapore's para-athletes are returning home again with another record medal haul, this time from the Asian Youth Para Games (AYPG) in Dubai, which ended on Wednesday (Dec 13).

The five golds, six silvers and seven bronzes obtained in the third edition of the quadrennial event tops the Republic's best showing of two golds, a silver and a bronze in the 2009 Tokyo AYPG.

Team Singapore had previously won 50 medals at September's Asean Para Games (APG), the most at an away APG.

"We want to ensure long-term continuity for high performance so it bodes well for the future to have our young athletes do well at the Asian level," said Kevin Wong, who heads both the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) and Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC).

"One of the things we've tried to do since I came on board (in 2016) is create greater breadth and depth in the talent pool ahead of the 2020 Paralympics and beyond."

The size of the 28-strong contingent, the largest Singapore has sent to the AYPG, also meant that it was easy for a sense of camaraderie to develop.

Said Games chef de mission and three-time Paralympic gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu: "It's been great this time with a big team and I've really enjoyed getting to know each and everyone and providing them with some encouragement.

"Winning a medal is nice, but I've also told them that it's more important to be committed to training and then just do their best when competing."

Two young athletes to look out for are para-swimmer Wong Zhi Wei, who is partially blind, and sprinter Lionel Toh, who has cerebral palsy.

Zhi Wei, 15, was Singapore's standout performer at the Games with three golds and two silvers across the competition's four days.

Lionel also struck gold in the 100m T37 (U-20) on Monday (early Tuesday Singapore time) in 14.20sec, as the 18-year-old overcame a niggling ankle injury to record his first international victory.

"I couldn't quite believe it at first and the emotions only started to sink in after I watched the replay to confirm I won," he said.

"I'm looking forward to next year's Asian Games but my immediate goal now is just to rest and recover from my injury."

The contingent will be returning to Singapore in three waves from today to Saturday.

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