Asean Schools Games 2017

Support of family and friends

Above: The Singapore contingent at yesterday's march-past. Left: Minister Ng Chee Meng taking a wefie with performers.
Above: The Singapore contingent at yesterday's march-past.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Above: The Singapore contingent at yesterday's march-past. Left: Minister Ng Chee Meng taking a wefie with performers.
(Above)Minister Ng Chee Meng taking a wefie with performers.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Nikki counting on home crowd to show that volleyball team can do well

Most athletes experience nerves occasionally, but the advantage of having a home crowd behind them is immeasurable.

Nikki Barista Karya Johari, 16, is counting on support from her family and friends as she makes her maiden appearance at the Asean Schools Games, which opened at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday.

"The competition is very tough because there are better opponents like Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines," said the volleyball player from Cedar Girls' Secondary School.

"But, with the time and effort we put into training, we can definitely show other Singaporeans that Singapore volleyball can do it."

Indeed, that was one of the themes of yesterday's opening ceremony, where a video montage of the region's sporting heroes, including Singaporean Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, bowling world champion Shayna Ng, Malaysian diver and Olympic medallist Pandelela Rinong, and Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, was broadcast.

More than 600 performers from 25 participating schools, as well as former national gymnast Lim Heem Wei, were involved in yesterday's ceremony.

Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, who declared the Games open, praised the ASG as an event that "broadens our students' education landscape, bringing the understanding of people-to-people relationships and connectivity within Asean".

The ASG returns to the Republic after five years and the ninth edition will feature 1,650 athletes and officials from all 10 Asean countries.

For Temasek Junior College swimmer Jade Lim, who was torch-bearer, hosting her fellow competitors is a source of pride.

The 17-year-old said: "I've been travelling to the different countries so I've had a deeper understanding of the various cultures and traditions of the different countries, so now it is Singapore's turn - which is also my turn - to show our Asean counterparts our vibrant culture."

The teenager carried the torch around the arena together with her father, former national footballer Lim Tong Hai, before lighting the Games' cauldron as the crowd of about 4,500 cheered them on.

She added: "That was a very heartwarming moment... I hope with this kind of energy, we can channel it into (our respective sports) and I'd like to wish the athletes all the best."

The good wishes will come in handy for Malaysian bowler Shahrukh Amin, for whom the ASG is only his second major competition.

Tenpin bowling will feature at the ASG for the first time.

"I'm a little nervous, but I'm feeling 80 per cent out of a 100 in terms of confidence," said the 17-year-old.

The Games action will run from today to Wednesday.

The closing ceremony will be at Universal Studios Singapore on Thursday.

For the first time since the annual meet began in 2009, all 10 South-east Asian nations are represented.

Singapore will be represented by 205 athletes from 45 schools. The hosts are involved in all 10 sports.

The Republic won 26 golds, 22 silvers and 31 bronzes when it last hosted the Games in 2011.

At last year's edition in Chiang Mai, Singapore bagged 13 golds, 14 silvers and 30 bronzes.

•Additional reporting by Ho Cai Jun

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'Support of family and friends'. Print Edition | Subscribe