Asean Para Games 2017

Record haul for Singapore at Asean Para Games 2017

More can be done as competition is now stiffer, says disability sports council chief

Singapore's para-athletes at the APG Closing Ceremony last night, They had a bountiful harvest of 50 medals (nine gold, 17 silver and 24 bronze).
Singapore's para-athletes at the APG Closing Ceremony last night, They had a bountiful harvest of 50 medals (nine gold, 17 silver and 24 bronze).PHOTO: STEPHANUS IAN/SPORT SINGAPORE

Singapore's para athletes, the country's biggest overseas contingent for an Asean Para Games, fittingly responded with their biggest away medal haul to make it a night to remember at yesterday's Closing Ceremony.

The Republic wrapped up their campaign in Malaysia with 50 medals (nine gold, 17 silver and 24 bronze) and finished seventh in the 11-nation table. The medals came from eight of the 11 sports Singapore competed in.

The previous record was 37 (16-10-11) medals at the inaugural APG in 2001, also held in Kuala Lumpur.

Singapore's 90-strong team included 21 debutants and this was a positive step, said Singapore Disability Sports Council president Kevin Wong.

He added: "We could have done a lot better in winning (a greater) number of golds.

"But if you look at the number of athletes who set new personal bests and their individual performances, like the CP (cerebral palsy) footballers who didn't win a medal, we're proud of them."

As hosts in 2015, Singapore won a record 24 golds alongside 17 silvers and 22 bronzes and finished fifth overall.

Their regional rivals have made great strides, noted Wong.

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  • Record haul of medals at an away Asean Para Games that Singapore accomplished in Kuala Lumpur.

"When we look at the standards of our neighbours, there are really world-class athletes and we're competing against the world's best.

"The level of competition has doubled compared to years ago. We have to double our efforts. If we don't we'll fall behind.

"When I spoke to the Malaysians, Vietnam and Indonesians, they are all actively identifying more talents and they train full-time.

"So we have to do the same thing. We could have fielded more people in more categories but we don't have the talent yet."

After seven days of competition in Kuala Lumpur, he and many Team Singapore para-athletes were able to relax and enjoy last night's festivities at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

The festivities included vibrant performances and spectacular fireworks as the ninth APG concluded.

Indonesia, with 126 golds, finished as overall champions. Hosts Malaysia were second with 90 followed by defending champions Thailand on 68 golds.

The KL edition featured a record 16 sports, with cycling making its debut.

Singapore chef de mission Shirley Low singled out the cycling team who bagged 14 medals (1-5-8), a haul that matched swimming (4-7-3), a sport the nation traditionally excels in.

Low said: "Our aim was to better our last away Games, the performances and results were overwhelming. We were blown away by it."

National para-cycling coach Christian Stauffer said the success was down to home work and leveraging on a deep pool of able-bodied cyclists who served as tandem pilots, including recent SEA Games track cycling champion Calvin Sim.

The team made several trips before the Games to familiarise themselves with the venue and train at the Nilai Velodrome.

Stauffer said: "We didn't just hop onto the bike and push the pedals, but we observed the other cyclists and we strategised. We also found the right combination of tandem cyclists.

"We've been able to demonstrate that we've got the right ingredients, like the quality and the attitude of the cyclists, to do even better."

Besides veterans like swimmer Theresa Goh, who won her 30th APG gold, there were other stand-out performers including Muhammad Farhan Ismail (bowling), Toh Wei Soong (swimming), Nur Syahidah Alim (archery) and Emily Lee (cycling).

Lee, who competed in goalball at the 2015 Singapore APG, and pilot Sarah Tan were Singapore's most bemedalled athletes with five medals (1-3-1).

And of course there were the heroics of Jason Chee, whose stirring comeback from losing his right eye in May to win the Class 2 singles gold in table tennis moved his countrymen.

"I felt a bit emotional," said Low. "Many people know what he's been through. "But he's got a great attitude and so much national pride. He's truly inspirational."

Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 24, 2017, with the headline 'Record haul for away games'. Subscribe