Asean Schools Games 2016

Asean School Games: Sporting spirit the athletes' real link; Singapore next to host Games in 2017

Thai associate professor Chavanee Tongroach (left), the president of the 8th Asean Schools Games organising committee, passes the Asean Schools Sports Council flag to Singapore's Liew Wei Li during the closing ceremony in Chiang Mai on Thursday. Sing
Thai associate professor Chavanee Tongroach (left), the president of the 8th Asean Schools Games organising committee, passes the Asean Schools Sports Council flag to Singapore's Liew Wei Li during the closing ceremony in Chiang Mai on Thursday. Singapore will host the Games next year, probably in July.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Republic plans to reinforce camaraderie, ties between Asean nations as next host country

After falling off the horizontal bars during the preliminary rounds of the 8th Asean Schools Games (ASG) gymnastics competition in Chiang Mai, Singapore's Lincoln Liqht Man was understandably nervous as he prepared to mount the bars again at the individual apparatus finals on Monday.

But the 16-year-old eventually nailed his performance, landing to cheers not just from his own team-mates, but also from Thai gymnasts Watcharaphon Phimphila and Nattipong Aeadwong.

This show of encouragement and support among young athletes on opposing teams is what Liew Wei Li, divisional director at the Ministry of Education's student development curriculum division, hopes will continue in Singapore when the Republic hosts the 9th ASG next year.

Singapore last hosted the Games in 2011.

Said Liew, who will chair the organising committee of the 9th ASG: "What we hope to do next year when we organise it is to continue the good work of all the other Asean countries, which is to help our kids have a place where they can communicate and make friends with their Asean counterparts.

"We speak so many different languages in (the Asean region) that it is difficult to communicate sometimes, but when you have the common language of sports and a common experience, that is where the friendship grows."

COMMON QUEST

We're looking for venues so that we can give them a common space or dining area to mix with athletes from other countries when they return from their respective sports.

LIEW WEI LI, divisional director at the Ministry of Education's student development curriculum division, on the possibility of having a Games Village when Singapore hosts the ASG next year.

To create opportunities for athletes to mingle with one another beyond the playing field, Liew hopes a Games Village can be set up for next year's event, which has tentatively been scheduled for July.

"A Games Village really gets the student-athletes to interact with one another," she said. "So we're looking for venues so that we can give them a common space or dining area to mix with athletes from other countries when they return from their respective sports."

A total of 177 athletes represented the Republic at this year's Games, and Liew estimates that about 200 Singapore athletes can feature at next year's edition.

She added: "We can field younger athletes so that more of them will get the opportunity to compete.

"On home ground, there is also the familiarity with the equipment. That is very important for an athlete competing at a regional or international competition for the first time."

The 8th ASG came to a close at Chiang Mai's International Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday, and Singapore's athletes finished the meet in fourth place among eight countries with 13 golds, 14 silvers and 30 bronzes.

Singapore's chef de mission Vasuthevan K. Ramamurthy commended Team Singapore's individual and team performances, saying: "We have quite a number of athletes who improved on their personal bests, so the ASG has given them the opportunity to raise the level of their game.

"We've also seen how hard they've worked together as a team, especially for basketball and volleyball where, through sheer grit and determination, they've done exceedingly well for Singapore."

The boys' basketball team won a silver medal, while the boys' volleyball side finished in third place.

Next year's Games will feature 11 sports and nine countries and Vasuthevan and Liew hope the Republic can emulate the hospitality and graciousness of this year's hosts.

Recalling how swimmer Erasmus Ang had cut his knee on a broken tile during a training session, Vasuthevan said: "The Thais took him to the hospital and made sure he had immediate medical attention, and they also presented him with a fruit basket.

"These are wonderful moments, and we are very appreciative of our Thai counterparts and their efforts."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2016, with the headline 'Sporting spirit the athletes' real link'. Print Edition | Subscribe