The Singapore Special Olympics contingent with the state flag they received from guest-of-honour, acting minister Lawrence Wong (image by Joseph Lee/RedSports).
*Scape, Sunday, January 20, 2013 — Salbiah Bte Zakaria may have only six months of training, but she is determined to get Singapore a medal.
The 18-year-old short track speed skater is one of 20 athletes who will don Singapore’s colours as they head to Pyeongchang, Korea, for the 2013 Special Winter Olympics, to be held from January 29th to February 5th, 2013.
Into its 10th edition, the Special Winter Olympics is a multi-sport tournament where children and adults with intellectual disabilities compete in Olympic-type sports. It is one of the events on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) calendar.
Singapore will be represented in two of the eight sports featured at the Games. Floor hockey, which is adapted from ice hockey and played on wooden flooring, will have 15 Singaporean athletes, while short track speed skating, a sport of speed and strategy on an 111-meter ice circuit, will feature five Singaporean representatives.
It will be a young team heading to Korea, with the average age of the floor hockey team just 18 years while the speed skating team consist of players with an average age of 16 years.
Led by Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang, the president of Special Olympics Singapore, the 2013 contingent will be just the second time Singapore is sending a team to the Special Winter Olympics. The first batch of floor hockey players was sent eight years ago to the 2005 Games in Japan.
“I’m very happy and proud to be representing Singapore,” said Salbiah, who is also the captain of the Special Olympics women's football team.
“I picked up speed skating just six months ago and it has been challenging for me. The speed of the sport is very fast, but hopefully I’ll be able to get a medal for Singapore,” added Salibiah.
The athletes went through training programs to get them used to the temperatures that they will be competing in.
This is a cause of concern for Melo Bte Taib, Salbiah’s mother, who is worried about her child’s well-being in the cold climate.
“I’m very proud of her, though I’m quite worried,” said Melo.
“It is the first time that she is going to another country on her own and on top of that, the weather there is very different. I cannot go along because I cannot take the cold, but I’ll be calling her every single night and making sure she brings hot Milo there!” added Melo.
“They have been training so hard to represent Singapore. She always talks about bringing a medal back for Singapore and for me, but I just tell her to do her best,” added Salbiah’s mother.
Singapore's Special Winter Olympics athletes (Name, age)
Ahmad Syahir bin Zabidi, 21
Lah De Shun Derrick, 22
Muhamad Kaswirah bin Amdan, 20
Muhammad Ezanee Bin Md Azman, 18
Lin Weiqiang, 16
Lim WeiLeong, 15
Isaiah Jevan s/o Daniel, 17
Muhamad Halery Bin Jasmani, 17
Chua Zheng Shuang Ivan, 15
Muhammad Azari Bin Aziz, 14
Vignesan s/o Rahman, 17
Michael Yew Yew Weng, 16
Muhammad Azmi Bin Mohamad Amir, 17
Saiyed Muhammad bin Mohaiyadeen Abdul Kader Sahib, 25
Muhammad Ramadhan bin Selamat, 22
Short Track Speed Skating
Nurul Aznizah Bte Azni, 16
Nurul Atikah Bte Azni, 14
Salbiah Bte Zakaria, 18
Suhairi Bin Suhani, 16
Phil Anthony Labramonte Razo, 14