Young and old to hold Games torch high

HE MAY be 83 years old, but Charles Eu still manages to go for hour-long walks from his Hillview home to Bukit Batok Nature Park every morning.

Come next Thursday, he will proudly become one of the torch bearers for the SEA Games Torch Parade.

"I was very surprised when they told me I was selected. What do you want an old man, 83 years old, to do?" he said with a laugh.

"But I am confident in completing the parade, because I have been exercising regularly."

Starting at The Promontory@ Marina Bay, the 2.5km route will take six Team Nila volunteers, including Eu, through iconic spots like Clifford Square, Merlion Park, Esplanade Outdoor Theatre, The Float@Marina Bay and the ArtScience Museum.

The parade will end at the Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza, where a host of activities and entertainment awaits the public.

The Torch Parade will be the culmination of 18 months of community engagement programmes leading up to the June 5-16 SEA Games.

"The objective of the traditional torch relay is to inform everyone that the Games is coming," said Toh Boon Yi, chief of community and corporate outreach for the Singapore South-east Asian Games Organising Committee (Singsoc).

"Not everyone gets to hold the torch. But when we involve the community in creating something, it becomes more than simply watching the torch go by in a matter of seconds."

One example of Singsoc's community engagement is the "Torch Up!" programme, which involved thousands of volunteers from all walks of life through a series of art, community and lifestyle initiatives.

This includes 30 public art installations erected in the city area.

The Kindling Aspirations installation, brainchild of local artist Tan Sock Fong, will be the last one to be completed, just before the Torch Parade.

The final touches will be added by the 28 runners of The Extraordinary Run, who will be collecting symbolic "hand flames" from all the Torch Up! installations on Thursday afternoon.

They will then join Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong to complete the Kindling Aspirations installation at the Torch Light-Up Ceremony at The Promontory@Marina Bay, before the Torch Parade begins.

While Eu is the oldest Team Nila torch bearer, the youngest - Jesy Chea - will turn nine on the day of the parade.

She said: "I'm excited to run on my birthday for the SEA Games. It is the best present."

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