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Sunday, 15th August 2010

With the Singapore skyline as an impressive backdrop, some 7,000 singers and dancers performing on a floating platform at Marina Bay during the opening ceremony of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games yesterday. Picture: Infofoto

Inaugural Youth Olympics opens in Singapore

HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah attends opening ceremony

National hurdler Maziah the country's flagbearer

The inaugural Youth Olympic Games officially opened in Singapore last night with a ceremony on the world's largest floating stage and an extravagant firework display.

After a day of intermittent showers, the rain stopped for the official opening by Singapore President SR Nathan on the floating stage in Marina Bay, which will later host some cycling events.

His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BNOC), was also present at the ceremony.

HRH was joined at Marina Bay by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Paduka Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah, Minister of Development Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman and Minister of Finance II Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abd Rahman Hj Ibrahim.

And it was a night to remember for Maziah Mahusin too, who was Brunei's flagbearer at the opening ceremony.

The 400-metre hurdler as well as swimmers Amanda Liew Jia Xin and Jeremy Joint Riong are representing the country in the 12-day event. With both Liew, who is swimming in the 50 metres breaststroke today, and Riong whose 100m butterfly event starts tomorrow not at the ceremony, Maziah was entrusted to carry the national flag during the Games parade last night.

With the Singapore skyline as an impressive backdrop, some 7,000 singers and dancers performed in an opening ceremony watched by an enthusiastic crowd of 25,000.

The Olympic flame was carried to the stage by a large dragon boat and lit by 16-year-old sailing competitor Darren Choy of Singapore.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge said he had felt like an expectant father before the Games began.

The 12-day event, which will involve athletes aged from 14 to 18, was the brainchild of Rogge, who hopes it will teach important life and sports skills.

"I feel like a father waiting in the delivery room for the birth to come," Rogge, an orthopaedic surgeon by profession, said at a news conference ahead of the opening ceremony.

With so many sports organising their own national, regional and world championships, critics have questioned the need for a Youth Olympics in an already crowded sporting calendar.

"It is an ambitious project, we approach this with the necessary humility," Rogge said. "I am very optimistic that this is going to be the start of a long successful series."

"Tonight we open a new chapter in the history of the Olympic movement," he added.

"From this moment on, young people around the world have a chance to participate in a global forum that combines sport, education and culture."

Some 3,600 athletes from 205 countries will take part in the 26 events that make up the traditional Olympics, with a simultaneous cultural and education programme running to teach them about Olympic values and global issues.

Some of the sports have been adapted, with new formats like street basketball and triathlon with mixed gender teams.

There will even be competitions with mixed teams from different nationalities.

Addressing the athletes, Rogge said the Games would help them "learn the difference between winning and being a champion".

"To win, you merely have to cross the finish line," he said.

"To be a champion, you have to inspire admiration for your character, as well as for your physical talent."

As well as Rogge, the ceremony was attended by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Youth Olympic Games ambassador Yelena Isinbaeva, the Olympic pole-vault champion and world record-holder.

Other Games ambassadors, swimming sensation Michael Phelps and sprint king Usain Bolt, sent messages of support.

The Games run from Aug 14 to 26.

Courtesy from Brunei Times