SEA Games: Quah on a mission

The 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games is special for swimmer Quah Ting Wen for many reasons.

It is the first time the 22-year-old will take part in a major Games at home, other than the 2009 Asian Youth Games (AYG) here.

It is also the first time that she will compete with both her younger siblings - Zheng Wen, 18, and Jing Wen, 14 - at a major Games.

Ting Wen has more motivation to excel on her "home" debut as Singapore is host for the first time in 22 years, on its 50th birthday no less.

Yesterday, the biennial meet took on even more significance for the 2008 Olympian, as she was chosen to be Singapore's flag-bearer at the Games' opening ceremony on June 5 at the National Stadium.

This will be the second time Ting Wen will hoist the flag for Team Singapore at a major competition - she also performed the same role at the inaugural AYG, where she was named the Most Valuable Athlete.

On the sidelines of the Team Singapore flag presentation at the Sports Hub's OCBC Square last evening, she said: "I am very proud and very honoured to be selected. I will hold the flag with lots of pride at the Opening Ceremony and try to do the country proud when the Games begin.

"On a personal note, it's the most special Games by far because both my siblings are in the same team... and it will be nice to race well and fast in front of my friends and family."

Her brother, Zheng Wen, jokingly reminded her not to fall, or to let the flag drop or touch the ground, but Ting Wen says she will not be fazed by the limelight that surrounds that role.

She said, smiling: "We will practise before that and I am just going to have fun (at the Opening Ceremony, and not fall."

The 1.75-metre tall swimmer received the flag on stage from Team Singapore's two chefs de mission - Dr Tan Eng Liang and Nicholas Fang - before gymnast Hoe Wah Toon led the contingent in reciting the athletes' pledge. Hoe, 25, said: "It's my first time competing on home ground (in such a major meet), so I am very excited and nervous at the same time.

"I grew up competing and, other than my family, my peers hardly know what gymnastics is about.

"This SEA Games will be a good time for more Singaporeans to see what gymnastics is about and show people what I have been doing all my life." GREAT AMBASSADORS Together with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, Minister for Social and Family Development and president of the Singapore National Olympic Council Tan Chuan-Jin handed over the flag to the two CDMs last night. Tan said: "It's been 22 years since we last hosted our regional friends and for our athletes to compete in front of our home crowd at the SEA Games.

"I know that our athletes and our citizens will be great ambassadors for Singapore."

Ting Wen hopes that the athletes' performances, regardless of their results, will inspire the country's youth.

She said: "I was just remembering our late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew - how he has allowed Singapore to prosper and how the future (generations) have so many opportunities to do Singapore proud in so many aspects - be it in sports, arts or academics.

"The athletes (at this SEA Games) can show the youth that we can excel in different areas and do Singapore proud, and, hopefully, it will inspire them to pursue their dreams, wherever they may lie."

This article was first published on May 13, 2015.
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