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August 31, 2011

Special Olympics celebrates Singapore athlete Salihin bin Sinai’s ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Salihin is pictured with Major-General (NS) Chan Chun Sing, from whom he received the award

Salihin (left) receives his award from Major-General (NS) Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports.(Photo credit: MCYS)

A Rough Start

The eve of Salihin bin Sinai’s Kilimanjaro triumph may have been the toughest day of his life.

The expedition, lead by long time Special Olympics supporter Michael Dee, took on the Western Breach route, known as the most breathtaking, yet challenging way to reach the peak. A seven hour, 45-60 degree ascent which leads through a breach in the crater wall, made more precarious with rocks dislodged from melting and retreating glaciers above the route.

As the team members negotiated their way, the effects of the altitude set in. Salihin was the hardest hit and started to decline. By the third stage of the route he moved slowly, struggling to carry on. As Michael remembers, "We all provided support, encouragement and guidance to Salihin to get him to the crater rim, (but) the only person who could get it done was Salihin himself."

Salahin with family members

Salihin with his parents (left of picture), brother and
Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang,President of Special Olympics Singapore (far right). (Photo credit: MCYS)

Making a Breakthrough

Salihin’s response was a straightforward "I try to push myself," giving every ounce of his last strength to reach the crater rim.

Since his return on 16 June, Salihin’s achievement – the first Special Olympics athlete from Singapore and Asia to scale Kilimanjaro – has received widespread media attention in Singapore. The team’s homecoming made front page news in Singapore’s top English and Malay language newspapers and primetime news.

Straits Times Newspaper Clipping of the climb

Salihin's Kilimanjaro expedition was featured in a number of news publications throughout Singapore, including the Berita Harian and Straits Times.

A Role Model

He was hailed a youth role model by Singapore's Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, to inspire and spur on other youths to pursue their passions. His journey and preparations for Kilimanjaro were traced in the documentary 'No Mountain too High', which aired on a major Asian news broadcast network in Singapore, Hong Kong, Delhi and Jakarta.

Perhaps the biggest accolade is a letter from Singapore President S. R. Nathan calling on him to continue inspiring others to live their lives to the fullest.

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