06 December 2017
By Nicolette Mok
Youth and inexperience won’t stop TeamSG’s Asian Youth Para Games athletes from giving their best, as the achievements of senior athletes have inspired them to work hard for Singapore.
A group of youths, a series of firsts, and a whole lot of determination – TeamSG’s Asian Youth Para Games (AYPG) contingent may consist of several debutants, but youth and inexperience won’t matter to them.
All set to represent the nation, the athletes are armed with a special weapon: their resolve to continue the legacy of excellence established by senior athletes, training hard for the Games with commitment and diligence.
Speaking to some of the squad’s marquee names, badminton player Akram Ramadan bin Miswari, swimmer Wong Zhi Wei, and chef de mission Yip Pin Xiu, we learnt more about how they’ve been inspired to put in their best efforts, building on the achievements of those before them.
Akram, who is set to make his major Games debut at this AYPG, said: “I’m quite new to the national set-up, but there are many experienced athletes that I can pick up lessons from.”
Akram and one of the world’s top wheelchair badminton player, Danial Chan from Hong Kong
The 21-year-old had been given the honour of leading the contingent in reciting the Athletes’ Pledge during October’s AYPG flag presentation ceremony, where he also got the chance to meet his hero, ASEAN Para Games table tennis champion Jason Chee.
“He’s been through so much, losing almost all his limbs and then his eye, but he’s always striving for the best. He never gives up, and really inspires me to keep going after my sporting goals,” he expressed.
For flagbearer Zhi Wei, a 15-year-old swimmer who had recently won two medals at his ASEAN Para Games debut, it was Paralympian gold medallist Pin Xiu who inspired him the most.
Zhi Wei at the 2017 ASEAN Para Games in KL
Enthusing about the opportunity to be a part of the team she was leading, he shared: “I admire how Pin Xiu overcomes adversity, producing such good results. This gives me something to aim towards.”
In fact, while Pin Xiu might be a familiar athlete to Singaporeans, her role as chef de mission is a first – both for herself and for the local sporting scene, for the 25-year-old is Singapore’s youngest-ever chef de mission.
Singapore’s youngest-ever chef de mission, Yip Pin Xiu
Pin Xiu explained why she took up the role: “As an athlete, I’ve learnt a lot not only from my experience, but also from the people around me. It’s important to give back. My younger self would have wanted to learn from the more senior athletes, to have a good role model.”
Naming Paralympic Games medallist Theresa Goh and Paralympian sailor Jovin Tan as some of the athletes who had made a significant impact on her development, she revealed that she has made it a point to come across as an approachable friend to the younger ones too.
“I just want them to be comfortable enough to approach me if they have anything to ask – not just during the Games, but beyond that too. I don’t want them to feel alone while going through this journey. I hope they’ll see that I’m here for them, and that if I’ve gone through this journey before, they can do it too,” she remarked.
“Some of them have only been training for a few years. I want to show them that this journey is not an easy one. It’s a journey that requires you to put in countless hours and many sacrifices.”
Indeed, dedication seems to be the order of the day for the two younger athletes, who asserted that the honour of being named pledge-taker and flagbearer had given them the extra motivation to work towards their goals.
Akram, for one, is looking to progress beyond the group stages at the Games, something that he had never done before at previous international meets. Zhi Wei, too, hopes to beat his personal best timings, and is working towards a medal.
“Beyond the results, we also want to carry the spirit of sport and represent Singapore like the seniors before us; to carry out what previous athletes have also done. We will compete hard and uphold their legacy,” Zhi Wei added.
Pin Xiu, echoed similar sentiments: “From what I’ve seen from my generation, and the generation before me, as long as you put in the hours and you’re committed, you’ll eventually get somewhere!”
The 3rd Asian Youth Para Games runs from 10 to 14 December this year, so be sure to get behind our athletes as #OneTeamSG, and stay tuned to our Facebook pagefor updates!