SEA Games: Threat to Team Singapore's gold mine

Singapore's Stephenie Chen (left) and Suzanne Seah after winning the SEA Games K2-500m gold last year. Canoeing has been dropped from the shortlist of 34 sports for next year's Games, along with fencing, bodybuilding, judo and triathlon.
Singapore's Stephenie Chen (left) and Suzanne Seah after winning the SEA Games K2-500m gold last year. Canoeing has been dropped from the shortlist of 34 sports for next year's Games, along with fencing, bodybuilding, judo and triathlon.ST FILE PHOTO

Canoeing and fencing dropped for next SEA Games, but list for KL will be finalised in June

At the next edition of the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Team Singapore may potentially have to do without two sports which contributed 10 SEA Games golds last year.

Canoeing and fencing, which clinched seven and three golds respectively, have been excluded from the Olympic Council of Malaysia's (OCM) shortlist of 34 sports (with 342 events) for next year's Games. Other sports culled from the original list of 39 are bodybuilding, judo and triathlon.

That said, the list for the Aug 19-31 Games is not finalised, and more sports could still be added, said OCM secretary general Low Beng Choo. She told The Straits Times: "This does not mean that those excluded are dropped. There will be another round of discussions.

"We expect appeals to come in and we will consider them and decide how many more sports we want to add."

Low said the final list - to be ratified in June - would comprise between 36 and 38 sports. Last year's Games in Singapore had 402 events across 36 sports.

The SEA Games Federation Committees will meet next week to discuss, among other issues, the sport programme.

Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) secretary-general Chris Chan said: "Following the meeting, the SNOC is open to meeting and hearing from the NSAs whose sports are affected (to) explore the avenues available to them for appeal."

Fencing Singapore general manager Chong Yi Mei said it would appeal against the decision as the fencers would miss out on competitive matches. She was also concerned that its funding might take a hit if its charges do not have a chance to win medals at the SEA Games.

She said: "We're disappointed with the preliminary list, but we hope to make the cut in the second round."

Singapore Canoe Federation (SCF) vice-president Francis Ng also said SCF would also appeal.

He said: "Our main target is the Asian level, the Asian Games. We have plans for a summer training camp in Europe next year, while the Sprint World Championships are also around the Games period... so we have plans (if the appeal fails)."

The International Canoe Federation Sprint World Championships will take place from Aug 23-27 next year.

Explaining the rationale behind the selection of sports, OCM's Low said: "We are looking at a more compact SEA Games, offering some sports for every Asean nation.

"This is why we included certain sports that Malaysia may not be traditionally strong in."

While Singapore's canoeists and fencers are in limbo, there is good news for the Republic's cricketers. Their sport is set to make its debut at the biennial Games. It was a demonstration sport in 2011.

Singapore Cricket Association president Mahmood Gaznavi said: "It's thrilling news. We've been fighting hard (to be included in the Games) for the last few years, talking to Indonesia and the other countries and vigorously pushing for it.

"We've got a national team formed and training for the 2017 World Cricket League Division 3. The job of preparing for a team is done. We're ready to go."


Correction note: An earlier version of this story named Singapore Canoe Federation's (SCF) vice-president as Francis Chan. He is actually Francis Ng. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2016, with the headline 'THREAT TO S'PORE GOLD MINE 2017 SEA Games: The sports'. Print Edition | Subscribe