Lifting the human spirit

SINGAPORE - Feng Tianwei was smashing her killer shots.

But instead of the glare of competition, the national table tennis star was doing it under the bright lights of the National Day Parade stage - in sync with the pulsating beats of electronic music.

The 26-year-old Olympic bronze medallist was one of 70 Team Singapore athletes who featured in Represent, a segment which celebrated the country's sporting talents.

It was the first time that Team Singapore athletes have been involved in the parade.

Feng, who was crowned Sportswoman of the Year at the Singapore Sports Awards in June, said: "We're not used to having movements choreographed, we're more used to reacting to our opponent's strokes.

"So it was really quite different from what we usually do."

Also taking a star turn were the LionsXII who made history when they won the Malaysian Super League title last month.

Team captain Shahril Ishak, 29, twirled and pranced as he showcased his nifty footwork, and scored a virtual goal by putting a ball into the net on the giant screen.

He said: "Timing is very important so I was quite nervous. But we're very happy and proud to be part of the parade."

Singapore's first Olympic gymnast Lim Heem Wei, 24, who somersaulted across the parade stage, said: "It's great that there is more emphasis on sports going forward.

"It's a privilege to perform in front of my home crowd, which is different from a competition where it's very serious."

The spotlight also shone on equestrians Laurentia Tan and Maximillian Tan, who trotted out on their horses.

Laurentia, 33, Singapore's first Paralympic medallist, was brimming with excitement over being part of the show.

She had only been able to catch it on the Internet in the past few years because she is based in Britain.

The duo were initially worried about how their horses would react to the noise of the crowd, the planes and fireworks.

"I was scared they would run off but the horses were surprisingly fantastic," said the 25-year-old Maximillian, adding that the parade felt like "a big family celebration".

Student Yee Ye Wen, 19, said: "I like the gymnasts and the table tennis players. I'm very happy they got to take part in this year's NDP, because we don't get to see them often."

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