SHAH ALAM, MALAYSIA - The opening ceremony for the 2018 Asean Schools Games (ASG) was held on Friday (July 20), as the 10th edition of the annual event got under way at the Universiti Teknologi Mara campus in Selangor's state capital Shah Alam.
Till July 27, this year's ASG will see 1,131 student athletes competing for top honours across 10 different sports - athletics, badminton, basketball, gymnastics, netball, sepak takraw, squash, swimming, table tennis and volleyball.
Singapore is represented by 190 student athletes from 40 schools, the second largest contingent at the Games after Malaysia (192).
Hosts Malaysia elected to highlight the country's multicultural make-up in a series of musical and dance performances by students that ranged from the harmonica and Malay hand-held drums to flag whirling and dancing set to the beats of Luis Fonsi's hit song Despacito.
Malaysia's Minister of Education Maszlee Malik - the opening ceremony's guest of honour - exhorted athletes to make use of the opportunity afforded them by the ASG platform and showcase their best in competition.
"Sports has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in the language that they understand," said Mr Maszlee, quoting the late South African political icon Nelson Mandela.
"Past ASG athletes include Malaysia's Goh Jun Wei and Indonesia's Jonatan Christie, both badminton players, and Singapore's Joseph Schooling. It is my fervent hope that the ASG legacy of producing world-class athletes will continue to flourish."
At last year's edition on home soil, the Republic's athletes won 24 gold, 27 silver and 27 bronze medals to finish third in the overall medal table behind Thailand (29-26-32) and Indonesia (25-33-29).
Among the top performers were gymnast Lincoln Forest Liqht Man (four golds) and swimmer Mikkel Lee (four golds and a silver), who is competing at this year's Games as well.
This is the second time Malaysia is hosting the Games, after the second edition in 2010. Singapore has also hosted the ASG twice - last year and in 2011.
The competition begins proper on Saturday.