By Jeannette Xavier
Additional Reporting By Cheong Wei Ming & Kelly Ng
Nine-time SEA Games gold medallist discus thrower James Wong and national fencer Ruth Ng led the way as the flag bearer and pledge taker respectively at the Flag Presentation Ceremony this evening (1 Nov) for the Team Singapore contingent taking part in next month’s SEA Games in Indonesia.
Boost For Team
Alongside 412 other athletes and 206 officials, they will make up the Singapore team in Jakarta and Palembang, with Dr Tan Eng Liang as the Chef-de-Mission. The team received a boost at SCAPE with the presence and encouragement of Guests-of-Honour Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Mr Chan Chun Sing.
Mr Teo told the athletes, coaches and officials: “Team Singapore, through your effort, you exhibit the best of what Singapore stands for – a determined, passionate and resilient society. Through your actions, you show our ASEAN neighbours that we have a strong motivation to win, coupled with a big heart to make friends. As we follow your progress, you will be our source of inspiration and pride. I applaud all of you for having the drive and spirit to be the best you can be and to do it for Singapore.” On his part, Mr Chan presented the SEA Games contingent as well as the team taking part in the ASEAN Para Games with the Singapore flag as a symbol of honour and national pride.
Describing his role as “an absolute honour”, James said this year’s SEA Games will hold extra meaning for him as it will be his last and he is gunning for his 10th gold. When asked about his chances, he said what mattered most would be for him to enjoy the competition. He added, “I am a 42-year-old competing against guys half my age. I have nothing to lose.” Team manager for athletics Loh Chan Pew noted that Singapore was sending its largest track & field contingent since 1993 (when Singapore last hosted the SEA Games). As for the team’s chances, he said the athletes would be hoping to win two gold medals.
Other athletes donning national colours in the SEA Games where Singapore will compete in 33 out of 42 sports include 14-year-old synchronised swimmer Natalie Chen and 76-year-old bridge player Ng Lai Chun, who are the youngest and oldest athletes respectively, in the Singapore contingent to the 26th SEA Games. They are joined by seven pairs of siblings and a father-daughter waterski team - Geoffrey Kee and his daughter Kayla Marisa.
Doing Singapore Proud
As for the Paralympic team, which comprise 36 athletes and 21 officials, those expected to do Singapore proud include wheelchair racer Muhammad Firdaus Nordin and swimmers Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh. They will be led by Mr Ee Tiang Hwee as Chef-de-Mission.
Bid for 2015 SEA Games
At the Flag Presentation, DPM Teo said that the SEA Games “is the most significant sporting event for the people of Southeast Asia” and also announced Singapore’s bid for the 2015 SEA Games. “The Games help to forge regional solidarity, and bring great value and pride to the people and the athletes. We want to play host to our Southeast Asian neighbours by organising the Games.”