Have you ever heard of Naypyitaw? It’s a town in the country of Myanmar, formerly called Burma. Most tourists don’t visit Naypyitaw. It has a population of one million and is about a five-hour drive north of the capital city of Yangon.
In December 2018, 190 Singaporean athletes, along with 33 officials, thronged the town of Naypyitaw for the 19th ASEAN University Games (AUG). This biennial sports event, held since 1981, has three objectives – to promote ASEAN solidarity in youths through school sports, to provide opportunities for school athletes to benchmark their sporting talents in the ASEAN region, and to interact and engage in cultural exchange.
The ASEAN countries are Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei and Timor-Leste. For the first time, AUG was held in Myanmar, from 10–19 December 2018.
Representing Singapore were youths from NUS, NTU, SMU, SIT, SUSS and SUTD. The 29 SIM students were the third largest group, of whom 10 were SIM-University of London students. They competed in athletics, football, traditional boat race and volleyball. In fact, SIM currently holds the chairmanship and secretariat for the Singapore Universities Sports Council (SUSC) for 2018 to 2020 and the AUG is one of several international competitions which SUSC coordinates for Singapore.
We interviewed BSc Economics and Management student, Parajuli Nabin (pictured above), who was awarded bronze in Athletics.
What was it like to be part of the ASEAN University Games?
It was the first ASEAN University Games I took part in. I was very excited about the race venue, meeting my competitors and executing the race plan. Unlike the local races in Singapore, AUG brings in some of the best athletes in Southeast Asia of whom some are medalists at big games such as SEA Games. I was thrilled to be able to race toe-to toe with the best in the region.
What was most memorable?
The motto of the AUG 2018 was Youth and Friendship. The most significant thing about the event was forging new friendships with the participants. On top of that, the hospitality shown by the locals and the volunteers at the Games was most memorable for me.
How did you overcome the odds to be one of the top 3?
There was excitement and nervousness as I lined up for the race. Relax and be steady was my mantra. The race went tactically as all of the top three athletes were hustling for position. While it wasn’t as fast as I expected it to be, bringing home a medal was a great feeling.
For BSc Economics student, Chermain Chan, the recent AUG was her second and last one as she is graduating in 2019. The silver she achieved in archery was a surprise, as she reflects. “My performance during training fluctuated quite a bit, so I was not sure how well I would do in the competition. Luckily, my teammates and I had a good amount of time to work things out before the qualifying round. We managed to stay positive although it was a tough competition. We agreed never to give up. The results were great as we performed better than at our normal training sessions. My teammates and I are elated with what we have achieved.” Chermain said that staying positive was really important, not just for her sport but also for her studies. She stepped on to the shooting line with confidence to win – and she did.
Students in the SIM-University of London programme are always encouraged to develop a holistic education. We are pleased that Nabin echoes our sentiments. He says that, “While academics comes as a priority in our school journey, I urge fellow students to actively take part in sports of your preference. Athletics, long distance running in particular, has taught me discipline, self-control, and to be fearless. Bring sports into your life, it will give you experiences and teach you lessons that you cannot find elsewhere.”
Congratulations also go to BSc Accounting and Finance students, Goh Jun Hui and Ronald Ng, and to BSc Management and Digital Innovation student, Ong Hui Li. They achieved bronze in the traditional boat race and archery in the AUG at Naypyitaw. Well done!
Ng Wen Sze is a Programme Executive at SIM.