Singapore’s first Olympic Gold by Joseph Schooling has set the country alight in frenzy. Citizen and celebrity, both from within Singapore and abroad, have stepped forward to congratulate the win.
As our sports heroes return to Singapore and we look to the closing ceremony on 21 August, another international sports event is right on the horizon: the 2016 Paralympics, happening 7 – 18 September.
It’s just a little more than three weeks away, so let’s not let our support for our athletes die down. Let’s stay on our televisions and YouTube channels, and let’s be just as quick to give our congratulations.
Here we review four reasons why we ought to give the Paralympics (and by extension, disability sports in general) as much support as we did for the Olympics.
1. Because of the heroes
It’s not just our Olympians who have been busy breaking personal and competition records and winning medals. Our Paralympians have been doing so as well.
In May, national para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu broke two records in just as many days apart: the women’s 100m (S2) backstroke and the women’s 50m (S2) backstroke. Earlier in December, national swimmer Theresa Goh finished the 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG) as host nation Singapore’s most be-medalled athlete, with five gold medals and one bronze.
Despite a 16-year swim career spanning three Paralympic campaigns and dozens of championship titles, the huge crowds at the APG still made an impression on Goh. “This APG has really been historic,” said Goh, speaking to Channel NewsAsia after the Para Games ended. “It will be something that will change how disability sport is viewed in Singapore.”
And it’s this public attention that led Goh, a self-confessed shy person, to slowly embrace her role as the face of disability sports in Singapore.
“At the Games, there were huge crowds of students watching different games… If you teach them that athletes with disabilities matter, and can do well, then they will grow up with that and that’s where you want to start.”
2. Because sports speaks to all of us
Last December, the press reported that the 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG) was watched by almost a 100,000 spectators, with the stands at nearly full capacity. The week-long event, which saw Singapore capture a record-breaking medal tally of 63, captured the imaginations of many. Some of our athletes have become minor celebrities