Crowds of Singaporeans had congregated at the National Library @ Bugis yesterday morning at around 11am. There were Singaporeans from all walks of life, ranging from children and youths to adults and senior citizens.
Even local sporting legends such as Singapore’s own sprinting legend C Kunalan, had made the trip down.
Everyone was decked out in red and many Singaporeans were enthusiastically waving mini Team Singapore flags.
Victory parade to welcome home the Paralympic heroes
They had been all there to welcome home Singapore’s very own national Paralympic heroes – at the victory parade for the athletes.
These had included Singapore’s first double Paralympian gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu, bronze medallist Theresa Goh and the rest of the Paralympic team who had represented Singapore in the Rio Games, earlier this month.
Said Yip, 24, as she addressed the crowd, “It’s amazing! The reception has been so nice and heartwarming and I feel really glad to be back.”
She continued, “Winning the two gold medals in Rio was surreal; I don’t think it has sunk in yet. I am so grateful for all the support; it has been an amazing journey and amazing experience.”
Yip had won two gold medals in the recent Paralympic Games – her winning events had been in the 50m backstroke S2 (2:07.09 minutes) and the 100m backstroke S2 (1:00.33 minutes). Her timings for these events are also world records.
Yip was homesick
Yip added “We had been in Spain for a holding camp for two weeks and were in Brazil for three weeks. During that time, I got really homesick then and missed the people and food in Singapore. The only thing I didn’t miss was the weather!”
So when she had returned back to Singapore on Wednesday, she went to a hawker centre to tuck into her favourite local foods. Said Yip, “And I could not decide on one dish so I had my brother share with me – we ate nasi lemak, fishball noodles, chwee kueh and everything else. Yum!”
Singaporeans were inspired by the Paralympians’ achievements
Many of the Singaporeans who were present, had been thoroughly inspired by the achievements of Yip and her fellow Paralympians.
Said Maximilian Ng, 10, a student at Nanyang Primary School, “I am very happy with their achievements – the Paralympians have worked hard to get to where they are now.”’
Maximilian’s father also shared more about the importance of exposing Maximilian and other kids in Singapore early, to understanding the trials and struggles of our special Olympians to achieve what they have now, citing the Paralympians’ determination as a testament to impose to today’s children.
Ruth Loke, 56, who works in accounts, pointed out that due to their struggles, what the Paralympians have achieved is admirable. She said “Despite their challenges, they are doubly hardworking and their determination is admirable. This sets a great example even for able-bodied people and gives us added determination to set goals and achieve what we have in mind.”
Not easy for them to overcome their difficulties
Agreed homemaker Hazel Ng, 40, who also shared Loke’s views about the challenges faced by Special Olympics athletes. She explained, “It is not easy for the Paralympic athletes to overcome their difficulties because they have to be one mile ahead of us.”
She added “They make a lot of effort to do what they are doing now – I am so proud of them. Their achievements have taught me more about not giving up and not to complain about the small problems in life.”
For her son, Ethan Seow, aged eight, a River Valley Primary School student, witnessing the achievements of our Paralympians has inspired him in his studies. He said “It has taught me to put in a lot of effort and even if I make one mistake, I will just try harder.”
Continued Ethan, “I am proud of what the Paralympians have achieved and this is the first time that I have seen a Singapore athlete win two gold medals.”
Three stops at the victory parade
Altogether, there had been three stops at the Team Singapore Paralympic athletes’ victory parade.
This had begun at the Active SG Sengkang Sports Centre and then stopped for a while at the National Library @ Bugis – before proceeding onto VivoCity as the final destination for a meet & greet session with fans.