PHNOM PENH: The 2023 ASEAN Para Games (APG) was officially opened with pomp and pageantry at Morodok Techo National Stadium here yesterday with the participation of over 2,000 amazing athletes from all over the South East Asian region.
With the theme ‘Sports: Live In Peace’, the opening ceremony featured a colourful fireworks display that wowed the 70,000-strong audience and showcased a unique Cambodian performance entitled Khmer Heart.
The 48-member strong Malaysian contingent, including 34 athletes, was led by chef de mission Noor Syahieda Mat Shah and boccia athlete Angeline Melissa Lawas as the Jalur Gemilang flagbearer, marching into the stadium as the fourth country in the procession, smartly dressed in their yellow-black jerseys and track pants bearing the Jalur Gemilang logo.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen then declared the 12th edition of the APG officially open, signalling the start of the week-long tournament, with 11 participating countries, and will last till this Friday (June 9).
After the countries’ contingents made their way into the stadium, the ASEAN Para Sports Federation flag was raised and participants took their oaths for the Games.
Wheelchair basketball athlete Sinet An had the honour of lighting the Games fire before the audience was treated to a magnificent fireworks display that lit up the night sky above Phnom Penh.
A total of 144 athletes make up the Malaysian contingent for this year’s Games, and 62 of them, or 43 per cent, are making their debut. The athletes are competing in 153 events out of 429 events being contested in Cambodia.
The events are in 13 sports - athletics, badminton, boccia, chess, blind football, cerebral palsy football, goalball, judo, powerlifting, swimming, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball and a demonstration sport, e-sports.
They will try to meet the target set by the Paralympic Council of Malaysia of 33 gold, 51 silver and 58 bronze, compared to the 36 gold, 20 silver and 14 bronze Malaysia won at the previous Games in Solo, Indonesia.
The reduced gold medal target reflects the absence of three Paralympic gold medalists - Datuk Mohd Latif Romly (long jump), Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli (shot putt) and para badminton shuttler Cheah Liek Hou - from this year's Games.
Malaysia emerged as APG overall champion for the first time when they hosted the inaugural edition in Kuala Lumpur in 2001, with a haul of 143 gold, 136 silver and 92 bronze medals. -Bernama