'Singapore should win more than 50 SEA Games golds'

Home-grown athletes getting into the party spirit at the launch party held at Gardens by the Bay on 15 February 2014 for the 2015 SEA Games and Asean Para Games which Singapore will be hosting. The nation should improve on its best SEA Games hau
Home-grown athletes getting into the party spirit at the launch party held at Gardens by the Bay on 15 February 2014 for the 2015 SEA Games and Asean Para Games which Singapore will be hosting. The nation should improve on its best SEA Games haul of 50 golds when it hosts the Games in June next year. -- ST FILE PHOTO

Singapore should improve on its best SEA Games haul of 50 golds when it hosts the Games in June next year.

While the sports programme has yet to be finalised and the number of events to be competed for is still up in the air, the weight of expectation is already falling on Singapore’s athletes.

As Lim Teck Yin, chairman of the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) executive committee, said: “Let’s say that in 1993 we got 50 gold medals.

“I can’t imagine getting less.” In 1993, the Republic was led by nine golds from swimming’s Golden Girl, Joscelin Yeo, and roared to a record 50 golds, 40 silvers, and 74 bronzes.

Besides swimming, which garned 13 golds, the other sports that reaped golds aplenty for Singapore include wushu (seven golds) and bodybuilding (six golds).

That medal tally 21 years ago dwarves their latest SEA Games’ tally of 34 golds, 29 silvers and 45 bronzes in Myanmar last year.

Nations usually fare better when they play hosts to such multi- sport extravaganzas, as they have a stronger influence on the sports events to be competed for.

They can also send more athletes, and most of them will enjoy a psychological advantage, being on familiar home grounds.

To improve on their 1993 haul – which placed them fourth in the overall medal table behind leader Indonesia (88 golds, 81 silvers, 84 bronzes) – Team Singapore will once again look to the swimmers, who will be led by Joseph Schooling, winner of five golds in Myanmar.

Said Singapore Swimming Association president Jeffrey Leow: “Swimming, like most other sports, will always do better on home ground, as compared to a foreign setting.

“I am confident that the swimmers will rise to the occasion in 2015, and I expect them to deliver.”

Outside of the pool, Singapore’s other traditional goldmines include sailing and table tennis.

Sailing which garnered five golds at the Myanmar Games, while table tennis reaped four golds in Naypyidaw.

Added Lim, who is also the chief executive of Sports Singapore: “All the Team Singapore athletes I’ve spoken to are eagerly looking forward to performing on home ground.

“I encourage Singaporeans to get behind our athletes. They are our face of the SEA Games, they are leading extraordinary lives, and they are leading their lives as role models for us to aspire to be.”

ugenec@sph.com.sg