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Aug 7, 2010


Torch relay starts today


Over the next few days, 2,400 torchbearers aged between 11 and 82 will carry the YOG torch in an islandwide relay. They include celebrities Joanne Peh and Randall Tan, Singapore's first Everest team members Khoo Swee Chiow and David Lim, and 77th Street founder Elim Chew.

The 305km route will take the flame through all five districts - Central, South-east, South-west, North-east and North-west - and all the constituencies.

Today, the relay begins at CHIJ Toa Payoh, where Education Minister Ng Eng Hen is the guest of honour. It ends with an evening of celebrations at Nanyang Polytechnic, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong lighting the cauldron.

Each night, the YOG flame will be taken back to the Games Village at Nanyang Technological University. The flame will be used to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony.

President Nathan lighting the cauldron with hockey athlete Silas Abdul Razak (second from right), swimmer Amanda Lim (second from left). With them, Senior Parliamentary Secretary Teo Ser Luck (left) and Minister for Community Development Youth and Sports, Vivian Balakrishnan (centre), and Mr Goh Kee Nguan, CEO of Singapore Youth Olympics Committee (right). -- PHOTO: AP

PERFORMANCES bursting with youthful vigour and exuberance set the backdrop for a fitting welcome for the Youth Olympic Flame last night.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) football field was the stage for a kaleidoscope of colour and music, with the college's six residential halls each parading floats representing the cities where the flame had stopped on the way here.

Ancient Greek costumes, Mexican sombreros, the blood-curdling New Zealand haka, and noisy vuvuzelas were all part of the elaborate displays on the flame's first night out in Singapore that tied in with NUS' annual Rag and Flag day.

The visual feast culminated with guest of honour President S R Nathan lighting the cauldron with Youth Olympic Games (YOG) swimmer Amanda Lim and hockey player Silas Abdul Razak, as fireworks lit up the clear night sky.

Mr Ng Ser Miang, who chairs the Games' organising committee and played a pivotal role in Singapore's decision to bid for the event, had minutes earlier arrived with the flame in a safety lantern on an open-top bus, to boisterous cheers from the 3,000-strong audience.

Mr Nathan said: 'The YOG has been about individuals and organisations stepping forward, actively participating and in the process realising what they can achieve when there is commitment, when there is dedication and when there is passion.'

President Nathan, who is also the NUS chancellor, also sounded an important note to Singaporeans, with a week to go before the inaugural Games' opening ceremony on Aug 14 at the Marina Bay floating platform.

'In our YOG journey, let us remind ourselves, that it is not just about hosting a successful event; it is also about pursuing our passions, being the best in whatever we choose to do, and making a difference in our own lives as well as that of others around us.'

Since being lit in Ancient Olympia on July 23, the flame has travelled to Berlin, Dakar in Senegal, Mexico City, Auckland and Seoul - five cities in as many continents.

Deputy Prime Minister and Singapore National Olympic Council president Teo Chee Hean and Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan were among the VIPs yesterday. Dr Balakrishnan said: 'Look at the response of the crowd, clearly it was a special moment for them when the flame came in and the cauldron was lit.

'If we can sustain this pace of engagement and passion, it will be truly wonderful.'

The Games, which will cost the Government an estimated $387 million to stage, will see 3,600 athletes arrive here, to compete across 26 sports.

Mr Ng, who accompanied the flame on its entire international leg, said: 'We've finished one journey but the real start line is on Aug 14.

'The Games, being the first, will be a legacy for Singapore and the Olympic movement. We've always been an international city but this will make us even more international.'

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