20230609_CLOSING CERREMONY_AL010Team Singapore's para-athletes sign off from Cambodia with a haul of 44 medals, the Republic's second-largest away haul. Photo: SportSG/Alfie Lee

By May Chen

Elite athletic action featuring Southeast Asia’s best para-athletes came to an end in Cambodia on Friday night (June 9). 

Athletes, officials and performers gathered in the Morodok Techo National Stadium for the closing ceremony, bidding the biennial event farewell in a heartwarming show that was as memorable as the past week in Phnom Penh has been.

The show began with a number aptly titled “Cambodia Shines”. Indeed, for more than a month and through the able-bodied SEA Games and the Asean Para Games, the first-time hosts have more than impressed. 

From the spectacular opening ceremonies to the hospitality of the volunteers, the kingdom has spared no effort in welcoming the region’s athletes as it showcased its stability and progress made over the years. 

On the sporting field, too, Cambodia proved it is no longer the region’s sporting minnows. At the SEA Games, it finished a creditable fourth on the table, winning 282 medals, including 81 golds. As the Asean Para Games closes, Cambodia will end with nine golds, 18 silvers and 44 bronzes, its best APG showing yet. 

Indonesia are top of the standings with 401 medals, 159 of them gold.  

20230609_CLOSING CERREMONY_AL019The next edition of the Asean Para Games will be held in Thailand, with Korat playing hosts in January 2026. Photo: SportSG/Alfie Lee

But even with the stars on the fields of play, no Games will be possible without the people who put it together behind the scenes. The volunteers are the heartbeat of sporting events. 

It was fitting, then, that following a parade of the APG’s athletes, the closing ceremony moved on to a musical performance titled “Heart Language”, toasting the volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the past month. 

After the thousands in the 75,000-seater stadium were treated to a specially curated reel of the APG’s most moving moments, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen declared the Games closed, and the cauldron flame was extinguished. 

Representatives from Thailand, the next hosts of the regional Games, were handed the Asean Para Sports Federation flag before the night culminated in yet another captivating display of fireworks. The next APG will take place in January 2026 in Korat. 

20230609_ CLOSING_CEREMONY_FH_039Most of Singapore's medals from this edition of the APG have come through para-swimmers in the pool. Photo: SportSG/Flona Hakim

Team Singapore’s 25-strong contingent will return from Cambodia with a sizeable haul of 12 golds, 15 silvers and 17 bronzes. The 44 medals make for Singapore's second-largest away haul at the biennial Games.  

This includes the standout performance from the pool, where the para-swimmers’ showing alone was more than sufficient to surpass the Republic’s entire tally from the last Games. Siblings Colin and Sophie Soon, in particular, have been on the podium in every event they were entered in. 

In total, there were nine Games records, 16 national records, and 17 personal bests achieved. 

Said chef de mission Erynne Lim: "Each of the six sports we competed in won medals. Let's recognise the hard work and dedication that our athletes and the team behind them have put into flying the Singapore flag high and continue to support our athletes in their sporting journey.”

The Cambodia Games also far surpassed the performance from the last edition held just a year ago in Indonesia, when para-athletes brought home seven golds, nine silvers and 12 bronzes. 

This is Singapore’s fourth-best performance at an away Games, with the showing at the inaugural edition in 2001 in Kuala Lumpur still the best on foreign soil.