Volunteers light up the 3rd Asian Beach Games torch as the flame arrives in Haiyang, northeast China's Shandong province on Friday. The Games was declared open last night.Picture: AFP
The 3rd Asian Beach Games was officially declared open in Haiyang, China last night, as the coastal city welcomed more than 1,600 athletes from around Asia.
The country's biggest sporting event since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the week-long tournament will see a total of 49 gold medals up for grabs in 13 sports though Brunei will only compete in sepak takraw.
The competition is set to feature all the 45 member countries and regions under the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), with the Games one of the five major multi-sport events under the OCA.
This year marks the first time China is hosting the biennial beach sport gala, with Bali, Indonesia, hosting the inaugural edition in 2008 and the competition moving to Muscat, Oman, two years later.
China Radio International (CRI) yesterday reported that the Heqingdao Stadium attracted 18,000 spectators for the opening ceremony, where a rainbow-shaped screen was raised in the middle of the stage before the athletes paraded in the stadium.
When each delegation marched onto the stage and through the 'rainbow', the screen displayed the landmark building and famous scenery of the country or region.
Amid a cheerful and carnival atmosphere, a 90-minute performance themed 'Symphony of Sea and Beach' unfolded as some 1,200 artists took the central stage with music, dance, drum performance and folk shows to demonstrate the concept of 'Share the joy' introduced by the organisers.
Wang Feng, diving gold medallist at 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, lit the main cauldron before a glamorous fireworks show brought to a close of the festive night.
According to Brunei's chef de mission Mariam Ulat, the team was feted in a welcome ceremony which was held at the Games Village on Friday.
The ceremony was also attended by the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BNOC) HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah.
On the programme was a Chinese cultural show, a speech by the Village's mayor and a ceremony where the OCA flag was raised.
Other countries that were present included Bahrain, Maldives, Nepal and Syria all of whom exchanged souveniers with Brunei and vice-versa.
As in the past two editions in 2008 and 2010, Brunei who finished with joint-bronze in both editions will be competing in the inter-regu discipline.
Grouped with Indonesia and Myanmar, Brunei only need to beat one of the countries to progress to the semi-final.
Despite the competition officially starting yesterday, Brunei will only take to the Fengxiang beach on Wednesday to take on Indonesia.
The Sultanate will meet Myanmar who they lost out to a place in the final during both previous editions on Thursday.
The team event kicked off yesterday with powerhouses Thailand beating hosts China 2-0 in the round robin stage. The defending champions took the first match 15-10, 15-12 and the second match 15-11, 15-7.
Today's games will see Indonesia take on China and Myanmar.
Five of the six Bruneians who went to Muscat will be seeing action in Haiyang, where Ismail Ang, Mohd Azri Tahir, Mohd Shukri Jaineh, Abdul Amin Mahari and Nur Alimin Sunggoh will be joined by newcomer Mohd Basyiruddin Hj Kamis.
Ismail, Mohd Azri and Mohd Shukri were also in the team that finished with joint-bronze at the inaugural edition in Bali.
Courtesy from Brunei Times