S'pore athletes must bring nation's flag to board plane

For all Singapore athletes headed for July's Commonwealth Games, there is one other item that is just as important as their passports for travel to Glasgow, Scotland - the nation's flag.

Without it, no athlete can board the plane.

This is the rule laid down by chef de mission (CDM) Low Teo Ping at yesterday's ceremony to mark the start of the Queen's Baton Relay here.

Said the 68-year-old who also served as the CDM for the 2010 Asian Games and 2007 SEA Games: "The flag is an important aspect of building pride, commitment and wanting to do well for yourself, your country and your sport."

The vice-president of the Singapore National Olympic Council said it was too early to give a performance target for Team Singapore, who claimed eighth spot at the 2010 Games in New Delhi with 11 golds, 11 silvers and nine bronzes.

He did, however, say that the team, who have yet to be selected, should aim to do better in Glasgow, naming swimming, table tennis, shooting, gymnastics and sailing as sports which are expected to deliver.

Along with British High Commissioner to Singapore Antony Phillipson, and Dr Mani Jegathesan, who represents the Commonwealth Games Federation, Low presided over Thursday's baton ceremony at the National Sailing Centre.

The relay, which started this month in New Delhi, will travel 190,000km through all 71 Commonwealth nations before arriving in Glasgow for the opening ceremony on July 23.

In Singapore, the baton will be transported by in-line skaters, cyclists, sailors and even via the MRT, visiting landmarks such as the Marina Barrage, Raffles Hotel and Gardens By The Bay. National athletes such as gymnast Lim Heem Wei, sprinter Calvin Kang and Paralympian Theresa Goh will form part of the relay.

At 5.45pm today, the baton is expected to arrive at Queenstown Stadium, where members of the public are invited to attend a ceremony to mark the end of the Singapore leg.

Dr Jegathesan, a well-known Malaysian runner in the 1960s, said the relay serves many purposes. He noted that it helps to create awareness of the Games, motivate athletes in their preparations and also inform participants and spectators about other Commonwealth countries as the relay winds through their iconic landmarks.

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