It’s been an incredible seven days of elite para sports action here in Singapore, and every minute has proved precious to those involved.
As we bid goodbye to the 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG), let’s take the time to celebrate some of the most extraordinary moments from this landmark event.
Old-fashioned stunners never fail to get the crowd going, and at this APG, we bore witness to some unforgettable goals from Khairul Anwar, Singapore’s Cerebral Palsy football captain.
His long-range shot against Indonesia in the first match of the meet had already made waves online, but the talented player was not done yet. Khairul became the first Singaporean to ever bag a hat-trick at our new National Stadium on the third day of the Games, scoring all three of the local side’s goals against defending champions and eventual match winners Myanmar.
You must have heard of Yeo Yi Lin by now. A truly inspiring athlete, the 21-year-old had injured herself while training for the APG, but did not allow pain to stop her from competing.
Photo: Seow Gim Hong / SAPGOC
During Saturday’s 400-metre freestyle final (S9), the Malaysian swimmer had been wincing in apparent discomfort before the race, almost pulling out. Yet, spurred on by the spectators’ cheers of encouragement, Yi Lin gave the green light, completing all eight laps in an impressive show of grit.
Extraordinary star power
The contingents were in for a treat on Sunday when football legend David Beckham swung by the Games Village for a visit. The former English captain watched a football five-a-side match, even posting a video clip of it on his Instagram page!
He also visited the NILA Suite for Athletes, obliging fans – including NILA himself – with photographs, and also made time for a private meeting with Singapore’s latest football hero Khairul Anwar.
The wheelchair basketball competition certainly showcased a great deal of athletic prowess.
In particular, the first game on Sunday saw Thai player Tawatchai Jaisin toppling over during the first quarter of a game against Singapore, startling a number in the audience, many of whom had probably never watched a live wheelchair basketball match before. However, Tawatchai flipped over and righted himself with an almost-balletic ease, immediately pushing off and speeding back into the game. The crowd, naturally, went wild.
It was a pleasant surprise, walking into the Singapore Sports Hub on Monday afternoon. Packed with members of the public, the APG Carnival was in full swing. Despite it being a weekday, adults and children alike were gathered there, displaying genuine interest in learning more about para sports.
Photo: Suki Singh / SAPGOC
Indeed, this passionate spirit had lasted throughout all seven days of the Games, with supporters – both local and not – flocking to the competition venues to scream their lungs out for the athletes.
Take a bow, Southeast Asia!
In a now-viral clip that has won him legions of fans from around the region, Filipino field athlete Andy Ramirez Avellana dropped his crutches, made his way towards the bar on just one leg, and cleared 1.63 metres to win third place in the F42/44 high jump event on Tuesday.
Photo: Simon Pek / SAPGOC
The 39-year-old amputee’s bronze medal added to another that he had already received for his efforts in the F42 long jump event on Saturday.
It might seem that a gold medal at the APG would not have been that big a deal for home hero Yip Pin Xiu. After all, she had already clinched top honours in 2008 when she became the first Singaporean to win a Paralympics gold medal.
Photo: Seow Gim Hong / SAPGOC
However, the S2 swimmer was placed in the S5 category for this APG, competing against opponents with far stronger limb control than she had.
Undeterred, she went on not just to win the 50-metre backstroke final on Tuesday evening, but also to break the S2 world record, much to the delight of the raucous home crowd present!
An Extraordinary Games
Following an elaborate opening ceremony that featured live sign language interpretations and participants of all abilities, the cauldron for what was to be the most spectacular APG in history was lit by a trio of Team Singapore athletes.
Photo: Gavin Lee / SAPGOC
Remarkably, badminton star Tay Wei Ming and swim queen Yip Pin Xiu were joined by nine-year-old boccia player Aloysius Gan in the traditional lighting of the cauldron. Aloysius, a National Disability League champion, did not participate in the Games, but was featured at the ceremony in a symbolic indication of the bright future that Singapore’s para sports scene looked forward to, as well as the legacy that the 8th APG hoped to leave behind.