Photos by Clara Yuan/Red Sports
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Thursday, December 3, 2015 — 6,000 people from Singapore and the neighbouring ASEAN community gathered at the Singapore Indoor Stadium to celebrate the mental and physical strengths of people of all abilities at the opening ceremony of the 8th ASEAN Para Games. Officially opened by Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President, Republic of Singapore, the show left a lasting impression on everyone, including millions who watched it live on television and through the 8th ASEAN Para Games digital platforms.
Anchored and inspired by persons with disabilities, the ceremony involved more than 1,400 participants in an amazing display of light, sound, dance and music to commence Singapore’s debut hosting of the region’s largest para-sport event.
In her address, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu highlighted the unique quality of sport. “Sport can bring out the champion in all of us. It also breaks down barriers and helps us to appreciate the talents of those with different abilities.” Ms Fu who is also the Chairperson of Singapore ASEAN Para Games Organising Committees (SAPGOC) added, “The ASEAN Para Games is not just a sporting competition. It is a milestone for every Singaporean, as we mark the start of a movement to build a more inclusive society.”
Dato Zainal Abu Zarin, President of the ASEAN Sports Federation (APSF), echoed the ethos of the Games as being a platform to not only showcase the incredible sportsmanship of the athletes but also unite the region and inspire millions in Southeast Asia.
Dato Zainal shared, “The Games has brought positive impact on the overall Para movement in this region. From humble beginnings, we have scaled greater heights and have developed a track record for building a bridge, which links sport with social awareness. We will continue to pursue our cause to ensure that the Paralympic agenda be included in the sporting mainstream of the various national development programme.”
Embodying the spirit of the Games with the theme Celebrate the Extraordinary, the opening ceremony infused both sports and arts, with formal aspects of the official ceremony – from oath taking led by Team Singapore bowler Thomas Yong, to the torch relay; meticulously woven within five different movements of the show.
Says Chang En, a dancer from Anglo-Chinese Junior College who was a performer in Movement II of the opening ceremony, “I feel honoured to be involved as it is for an important cause. It is even more significant because the Games is held in our home country. Working with my new friends has taught me to appreciate what I have and to never stop believing in what I want to do. Although there may be many obstacles along the way, overcoming them will bring about great satisfaction. The human spirit can conquer every challenge.”
The ceremony concluded with the lighting of the 8th ASEAN Para Games Cauldron via a torch relay by seven local athletes – Kalai Vanen (Powerlifting), Benson Tan (Swimming), Aishah Samad (Shooting), Toh Wei Soong (Swimming) and Tay Wei Ming (Badminton). Tay joined final torch bearers, Yip Pin Xiu (Swimming), Aloysious Gan (Boccia) in the lighting of the cauldron which marked the start of the Games and the rousing celebrations in welcoming the region’s athletes and officials.
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