Indonesia aim to top Para Games again
Flags raised, Indonesia look to retain No. 1 status at Para Games
They all stand on one side of Marina Bay, some taller than the others, each skyscraper telling a story of success, and perhaps depicting the never-ending race to go higher and be stronger.
On the waters of the bay floated giant white spheres, meant to symbolise the hopes and dreams of many for a better tomorrow.
Against this poignant scene, the 10 flags of the countries competing at the 8th Asean Para Games were raised yesterday at the plaza along Marina Bay Sands, where the 3,000 athletes and officials will stay.
Singapore are hosting the week-long Asean Para Games for the first time from tomorrow.
The Games will feature 15 sports, and excitement is mounting as organisers put the finishing touches for tomorrow's opening ceremony at the Indoor Stadium, and the athletes gear up for battle at the various venues at the Singapore Sports Hub and Marina Bay.
Speaking on the sidelines of the flag-raising ceremony yesterday, Indonesia's chef-de-mission (CDM) Faisal Abdullah revealed their goal.
"Our aim... To be number one, God willing," said Dr Faisal, raising his index finger for effect.
There is a reason for his confidence.
Indonesia finished top in the overall medal tally at the biennial Games in Naypyidaw last year, bagging 99 golds, 69 silvers and 49 bronzes, with Thailand second on 96-82-70.
It was the first time since the inception of the Games in 2001 that Thailand had not finished as the best team.
Dr Faisal said: "We have been preparing for this Games since the start of the year. We started with 2,500 athletes and cut it down to 190 in May.
"We are taking part in 11 sports, and we are confident of getting gold medals in all of them, especially athletics, swimming and table tennis.
"We also have a very good chance of winning gold in shooting and badminton."
In his speech yesterday, Games organising chairman Lim Teck Yin said: "The theme 'Celebrate the Extraordinary' is about connecting individuals, communities and countries in our region to our dreams. It is beyond competing, winning or even overcoming defeat.
"It is about inspiring the one that is inside each of us, and then going on to inspire those around us."
But many will be curious to see if Thailand can regain their status as the No. 1 team at the Para Games.
Thai CDM Pitak Polkhan refused to be drawn into a prediction, despite leading the biggest contingent of 261 athletes and 222 officials, including national paralympic council members.
Malaysia's contingent will consist 192 athletes and 238 officials while Indonesia are sending 189 athletes and 111 officials.
Hosts Singapore will field 154 athletes and 115 officials.
Polkhan, 68, said: "We have prepared for about four months for this Games, and we want to be first; we will try our best."