The curtains came down in Solo, Indonesia, marking the end of the 2022 ASEAN Para Games (APG). Over 2,300 participants from 11 Southeast Asian countries were treated to an evening of cultural performances, soulful songs, and firework displays.
Held in the Manahan National Stadium, the ceremony started with the visually impaired piano prodigy Allafta Hirzi Sodiq, 15, leading the stadium in Indonesia’s national anthem, Indonesia Raya, accompanied by an inspiring display.
The para athletes then took centre stage, marching to a roar of applause from spectator stands. Just as she did in the Opening Ceremony, para swimmer Sophie Soon walked proudly into Manahan Stadium bearing the Singapore flag.
The lively atmosphere was taken up a notch by Alffy Rev and Novia Bachmid performing Wonderland Indonesia. It was accompanied by cultural dances, after which President of the ASEAN Para Sports Federation (APSF) Osoth Bhavilai delivered his closing remarks.
“Tonight, we part ways, but Solo and its friendly people remain in our hearts. For the past week, we have witnessed an exciting show of courage. A memorable experience indeed, specially since this is our first Games in four years. To athletes, you are all winners! ASEAN salutes you!” he said.
Major General Bhavilai was re-elected APSF executive committee president in a vote at the Swiss-belhotel in Solo on 2 Aug. The 71-year-old held the office since 2016 and this re-election will see him serve another four-year term until 2026.
“We look forward to working closely with all parties and stakeholders towards the organisation of future Games including next year’s ASEAN Para Games in Cambodia, the 2025 Games in Bangkok and other championships in the region,” he said after the elections.
In his address, President of Indonesia Joko Widodo said, “Indonesia is very proud to be the host of the 2022 ASEAN Para Games. We have learnt that difficulty is not an obstacle. With commitment and hard work, it has enabled us to achieve a great performance. The solidarity shown by the para athletes across Southeast Asia showcases the strength of ASEAN.”
The flag of the APSF was then lowered and handed to Cambodia, the host nation of the 12th APG. It was received by a representative of Cambodia H.E Hun Many and Secretary General of the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia H.E Yi Veasna. The national anthem of Cambodia then rang out as the flag of the next host nation was raised, followed by a performance of cultural dance and song to give audiences a taste of what lies in store in Cambodia in 2023.
Across the eight epic days of the Games in Solo, 1,224 medals were awarded to the para athletes. Indonesia ended its campaign at the top the medal tally. The host nation took a whopping 427 medals in what turned out to be an unforgettable hosting experience.
Indonesia stepped forward to host the games after the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of both the 2019 APG in the Philippines and 2022 APG in Vietnam. This came as a relief as the region’s best para athletes did not miss yet another opportunity to compete.
Thailand followed with 318 medals and Vietnam third with 182.
Singapore returns home with 27 medals in the bag. Team Singapore’s thrilling campaign in Solo yielded seven golds, nine silvers, and 11 bronze medals.
Nur Syahidah Alim successfully defended her women’s compound open gold from 2015 and 2017. After recording the highest score in the opening qualifying round, she was awarded a bye straight into the quarters and then played won tough matches in the same morning to book her spot in the final. Syahidah beat her Thai opponent by nine points in the gold medal match.
Colin Soon, Janelle Tong and 16 Singaporean para athletes return home after their debut performances at the Games. Soon and Tong bagged two medals a piece in their respective para swimming events. They will be looking to build on their experiences for upcoming sporting events.
“We feel awesome. We won four medals sharing one gold, two silvers and one bronze. When we go back to Singapore, we will continue to train hard to prepare for the World Cup at the end of this year,” said the captain of the boccia team, Toh Sze Ning.
Despite the competitive nature of the events, para swimmer Wong Zhi Wei said that the Games was memorable for fellow para athletes across the region.
“Meeting my competitors and my friends from other countries, we haven’t seen each other for four, five years so when we see each other we pat each other on the back and say, ‘You’re here, right?’, so that’s what I’ve missed the most. We took pictures with each other and had fun racing,” said Wong, who leaves Solo with two golds and a silver.
After an exciting eight days, “we are very excited to go back and celebrate National Day with our families,” Toh said.
As the evening drew to a close with Indonesian singer-songwriter Yura Yunita’s rendition of Merakit as the skies lit up by a sparkling fireworks display, the athletes look forward to the next APG in Phnom Penh from 3 to 9 June 2023 where they will lock horns once again in the name of sports.
2022 ASEAN Para Games Final Medal Tally