Para Games begins with Vietnam athletes hoping for best ever results
|Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the 11th ASEAN Para Games at Manahan Stadium in Surakarta, Central Java, Indonesia on Saturday. (Photo: XINHUA/VNA)|
The ASEAN Para Games (APG) raised its curtain on Saturday with a vibrant opening ceremony that included a spectacular firework display and exciting cultural and musical performances in Surakarta City, Indonesia.
The Games were officially opened by Indonesian Vice President Ma'ruf Amin, paving the way for an exciting seven days of action until the closing ceremony on August 6.
The cauldron was lit by Paralympic shooter Hanik Puji Hastuti after Indonesian ASEAN Para Games Organising Committee head Gibran Rakabuming Raka delivered his opening address.
The hosts welcomed almost 1,200 athletes to the 11th APG along with some 15,000 spectators at the 20,000-capacity multi-purpose Manahan Stadium who were treated to amazing live performances by famous comedian Dodit Mulyanto and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo.
They also enjoyed a magnificent firework display and the finale was a highly-entertaining performance by popular singer Nella Kharisma.
The Vietnamese athletes came to the regional biennial sport meet with 153 members including 120 athletes.
They set a target of 40 gold medals, as many five years ago in the ninth edition in Malaysia. It is expected that the result would help them to finish in the top group.
All Vietnamese competitors are excited to show their talents after years of disappointment and wait because of the Games' cancellation and postponement.
|Powerlifters of Vietnam train before competing in the Indonesian 11th APG. (Photo: VNA)|
"I am honoured to be Vietnam's representative at the APG and can't wait to take part in the competition," said powerlifter Tran Thi Chau who is to make her APG debut on August 1.
"I have prepared well to take the highest result from this tournament and grab points to compete for the Asian tournament and Paralympics."
Meanwhile, former Paralympic champion Le Van Cong said in his sixth time with the APG he was really confident to defend his gold.
"It has been five years since the last Games. I am excited to compete in the regular tournament again. And I believe in my successful title defence," said Cong who claimed powerlifting silver in the Tokyo Paralympics and the world championship in 2021.
Athlete Cao Ngoc Hung also shared his opinion.
"Athletes with disabilities still meet with many difficulties in both training and competing. I hope that our success at the Para Games will make people more care about Para sports while inspiring people to join in," Hung said.
"Awards from the competition will be our pride and bonuses will help us to improve our living standards. These are key reasons that push us to achieve medals."
Hung will compete in men's F57 javelin, discus and shot put. At the 2017 Games, Hung won gold in the javelin and a silver in the discus.
Last month, he took a javelin silver at the 2022 World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Rades Stadium, Tunisia.
His wife Nguyen Thi Hai is also a title favourite.
She is defending champion in three events of F56/57 javelin, discus and shot put.
In Tunisia, Hai claimed a bronze in the discus and another in shot put.
After a medical check and injury surveillance prior to the opening ceremony, organisers informed that there are nearly 30 athletes, including four Vietnamese, that tested positive for COVID-19.
They will be isolated for three days and receive treatment. If their tests are negative after three days, they will be allowed to join the competitions.
Indonesia organises 14 sports in the 11th APG and Vietnam will take part in eight.
The first athletes to start their journey are badminton players in team events and masters in standard chess.
Disabled spectators are free to attend the multisport event. They will be required to have obtained the booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The 2019 edition in the Philippines was initially postponed for financial reasons before being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vietnam also cited the pandemic in cancelling the Games last year. Indonesia stepped in to host the event for the second time after the 2011 edition, which was also held in Surakarta.