GLASGOW: Amidst the grand opening ceremony, the energetic performances, aerial display and fireworks at Celtic Park – the Commonwealth Games family on Wednesday demonstrated a show of respect for victims of last week’s Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond called for a show of solidarity from the Commonwealth nations by observing a minute’s silence to remember those who perished in the July 17 disaster.
National track cyclist Fatehah Mustapa was the flag bearer for the Malaysian contingent.
The Malaysians walked out in the traditional 'Baju Melayu' and also wore black armbands in honour of the victims of the air disaster.
The frontline of the Malaysian contingent comprised six athletes and two officials – who all wore the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) uniform.
National lawn bowler Siti Zalina Ahmad said it was an emotional moment for them when the whole Commonwealth Games family observed a minute’s silence during the opening ceremony.
"This is one Games which had everything ... fun, laughter, a party atmosphere and even a time of silence to mourn," said Siti, a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medal winner in the singles event.
“The Malaysian contingent shares the sadness and sorrow of the family members who lost their dear ones in the disaster. The MH17 tragedy has made all Malaysians united. I will wear the black armband throughout my stay here in Glasgow," said Siti.
Women’s doubles badminton Vivian Hoo also shared her sentiments.
“I feel really sad about what happened and I think this (marching together during the opening ceremony wearing black armbands) is a good way to empathise with what had happened,” she said.
“I felt truly proud to walk as a Malaysian at that time.”
Top track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang said he was nearly overcome by emotion during the march past.
“We had to put on a brave front although I was choked with emotions while marching with the Malaysian contingent,” he said.
“What happened was terrible. During the opening ceremony, we showed our unity even in times of distress. This will spur us to do our best.”
It seems that the tragedy has also touched a nerve among the foreign athletes.
Rachel Findlay, Scotland’s women’s singles shuttler said: “It was sad to know what happened and we felt the pain too. I think it was a good gesture of the team to do what they did during the opening ceremony.”
India’s men’s doubles shuttler Akshay Dewalkar had this to say: “I was not there at the opening ceremony but I watched it on television.
“It was a sight to behold watching the team walking in unison – showing their support while the country is mourning back home.
“We are saddened by the tragedy too. The Malaysian team have the support of the entire Commonwealth family.”
Australian women’s hockey defender Anna Flanagan said that it was a good gesture by the Malaysian officials and athletes to wear the MAS uniform.
“I also respect them for wearing the black armbands for the opening ceremony. All the Commonwealth countries sympathise with Malaysian people,” she said.
Malaysia's Datuk Nicol David, a seven-time squash world champion, was given the honour – as one of the most decorated athletes from Asia – to usher in the Commonwealth Games flag together with Australian swimming sensation Ian Thorpe (Oceania), Canada's wheelchair racing star Chantal Petitclerc (Americas), Kenyan distance runner Kip Keino (Africa), Jamaican track and field sprinter Shelley Ann Fraser (Carribean) and former Scottish judo world champion Graeme Randal (Europe).
Earlier, athletes and officials of the 20th Commonwealth Games were treated to Scottish hospitality and a grand traditional Glasgow welcome at Celtic Park.
The Games was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in front of 40,000 spectators – and an estimated one billion television audience.
India was the first contingent to roll out for the march past, followed by Bangladesh, Brunei and Malaysia.
A total of 17 sports will be contested – athletics, aquatics (swimming & diving), badminton, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, judo, lawn bowls, netball, rugby, shooting, squash, table tennis, triathlon, weightlifting and wrestling.
Among the big names expected to light up the 11-day Games are athletes Usain Bolt and David Rudisha.