GUNNING FOR GLORY
As she soaked in the celebrations at The Meadows@Gardens by the Bay yesterday, Saiyidah Aisyah transported herself to 2015.
For a minute, the 25-year-old rower envisaged a picture of herself achieving glory in front of family and friends.
Aisyah was among 200 athletes who attended the official launch of the 28th SEA Games and the 8th Asean Para Games, graced by President Tony Tan Keng Yam.
Shaking hands with the President and waving to the 2,000-strong crowd from a jumbo Teletron screen next to the concert stage, Saiyidah is fired up for the biennial sporting showpiece in June next year when the Games return to Singapore for the first time since 1993.
She, along with shooter Jasmine Ser, swimmer Joseph Schooling, the Singapore U-23 football team, and the rest of Team Singapore, are set to be the central cast of a grand Singapore show.
And they are expected to thrill a nation with their success on the sporting front.
"Competing in a major Games on home soil is every athlete's dream," said Saiyidah, who bagged a gold medal in the 2km lightweight single sculls event at the Myanmar SEA Games last December.
"Even if I wasn't an athlete, I'd still want to be part of the whole spectacle. I volunteered for the YOG (Youth Olympic Games) here in 2010, and that's what started my Olympic dream.
"I think it will be an awesome SEA Games, because you can see how much effort Singapore is putting into it, even now, 17 months before it starts."
The launch party yesterday, lit up by fireworks, also unveiled the official logo, the theme "Celebrate the Extraordinary" and mascot Nila for the June 5-16 event set to be held at the new $1.3 billion Sports Hub due for completion this year.
Singapore have never won the men's football gold and the Republic's Under-23 football team are hoping to break the jinx at the new National Stadium next year.
"I've just heard that the football final will be held just before the closing ceremony," said Al-Qaasimy Rahman, captain of the Courts Young Lions team that will comprise the bulk of the SEA Games side.
"That sets up a perfect finale for us.
"Singapore have never won the gold before, so there's no better time to win it than next June.
"Looking at all the work put in by everyone, we, as athletes, have to do our part. We can't let Singaporeans down."
There's much to look forward to. Our athletes will compete with the best in the region, and will strive to improve on their performances in Myanmar. Many have told me that they are making a special effort for the Games, because they are competing here at home, in front of our home crowd.
- Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong 2015 SEA