28th Southeast Asian Games begin today

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Philippine Volcanoes center Justin Coveny is corralled by Singapore squad’s flyhalf Fahmy Hossein and flanker Matthew Roberts during the Asia Rugby Championship Division 1 finals. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Philippine Volcanoes center Justin Coveny is corralled by Singapore squad’s flyhalf Fahmy Hossein and flanker Matthew Roberts during the Asia Rugby Championship Division 1 finals. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

More than 6,000 athletes and officials will be treated to a colorful show when the 28th edition of the Southeast Asian Games unfolds today at the state-of-the-art, 55,000-seater Singapore National Stadium in Kallang area.

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The program will start at 7:30 p.m. with no less than Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam heading the list of guests of honor that also include Singapore National Olympic Council President Tan Chuan-Jin, and Singapore’s Olympic medalists Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu.

Working behind the theme of Celebrate The Extraordinary, the Singapore Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee has tapped some 5,000 performers and volunteers for aerial shows, cultural presentations and dance numbers, eyeing to give the guests more than a peek at the rich cultural history of Singapore.

They will also use 160 multimedia high-definition projectors to add further excitement to the program.

“Performers and props will be able to ‘fly’ across the stadium, thereby expanding the performance space from a two to a three-dimensional space. Be sure to watch out for the giant props ‘flying’ right before your eyes.

“The specially designed aerial system will enable up to 14 sets of performers or props to fly at any one time. Audience can expect up to 50 aerial props flying on this system,” the organizers announced.

Each spectator will be given LED medallion, an Audience Interaction Kit “which will instantly turn the audience into giant LED screens making the audience very much part of the show.”

The Singapore Armed Forces will be deploying 3,500 soldiers in different parts of the 35-hectare sports hub to ensure the safety of the participants.

Volleyball star Alyssa Valdez serves country’s flag bearer.

The Philippines will be the seventh delegation to enter the stadium in the traditional parade of nations, behind Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar. Thailand is the eighth followed by Timor Leste, Vietnam and host Singapore.

Rugby team shoots for gold
After eight years of waiting, the Philippine Volcanoes are raring and ready to go for the gold in the rugby competitions, which opens at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Sunday.

“We are confident that the team will win a medal, and hoping for a gold especially in the men’s division,” said Philippine Rugby Football Union Aaron Briddon.

The Filipino rugby exponents bagged a silver medal in the 2007 Thailand SEA Games, the last time the event was in the regional sportsfest, placed fifth in last year’s Incheon Asian Games and are currently ranked No. 2 in Southeast Asia.

Briddon noted that he considers Thailand, the defending men’s rugby champion, and host Singapore as their main rivals for the gold.

Among those back in harness is Filipino-British actor and model Andrew Wolf, who was a member of the first Philippine men’s rugby squad that took silver in the Thailand Games held in Nakhon Rachashima.

Although they skipped the recent Asian Rugby 7s held back home due to their respective jobs abroad, reinforcing the Volcanoes for the Singapore Games are siblings Benjamin, Oliver and Matthew Saunders, Gareth Holgate and Jake Letts.

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