SINGAPORE - Olympic champion Joseph Schooling was named Sportsman of the Year at the Singapore Sports Awards ceremony on Tuesday (Aug 8), becoming the first athlete to win the award four times.
Schooling first won the award in 2012. The 22-year-old, who won the 100m butterfly gold at the Rio Olympics last year, pipped cuesports' Peter Gilchrist, the 2014 winner of the award, and silat exponent Shakir Juanda for the title this year.
Kegler New Hui Fen was named Sportswoman of the Year, while silat exponent Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin and fencer Lau Ywen were Sportsboy and Sportsgirl of the Year respectively.
Former national table tennis player Li Jiawei and former swim queen Patricia Chan hold the longest winning streaks at the Singapore Sports Awards, with five straight Sportswoman of the Year titles (Li from 2002 to 2006 and Chan from 1968 to 1972).
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American swim coach Eddie Reese, who helped guide Schooling to Olympic gold last year, was named Coach of the Year. The 76-year-old, who was not present at the ceremony, was the only nominee in the category.
All of Singapore's Olympic medallists - Schooling, Tan Howe Liang (weightlifting silver, 1960 Rome Olympics), Li, Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu (table tennis team silver, 2008 Beijing Olympics and bronze, 2012 London Games) - attended the annual Singapore Sports Awards ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Millenia, where a total of 10 awards were presented. Feng was also a women's singles bronze medallist in 2012.
This is the first time in the 49-year history of the awards that an Olympic gold medallist is present.
The Straits Times' (ST) assistant sports editor Rohit Brijnath was among the other winners. He won the Most Inspiring Sports Story of the Year for his piece "No big deal? Such sporting deeds deserve retelling", which was published in ST on April 27, 2016.
"I am particularly thrilled that I won the award for a story about the remarkable sportsmanship of a young Singaporean teenager. Jonathan Chua's decency on a football field is something I will never forget," said Brijnath.
The event was co-organised by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) and Sport Singapore (SportSG), and supported by the Tote Board group comprising Tote Board, Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club.
The SNOC also celebrated its 70th anniversary with a new book, titled Rings Of Stars And Crescent, which charts the past seven decades of Singapore's sporting achievements, with the spotlight on the sporting officials behind the scenes.
Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean, who is also patron of the SNOC, attended the event as its guest of honour. Also present were Minister for Social and Family Development and SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.
DPM Teo congratulated the award winners and finalists in his speech, saying: "With systematic planning, development and commitment, our athletes have been doing well in Olympic sports such as sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis and fencing; and in sports such as bowling, cuesports, silat and wushu, which have attained success on the international stage.
"Athletics, I'm glad to see, has also undergone somewhat of a renaissance, with the likes of canoeing, diving, floorball, netball and waterski and wakeboard consistently able to develop athletes with potential to excel at the regional level."
He also wished the Republic's SEA Games-bound athletes well, ahead of the Aug 19-30 event in Kuala Lumpur.
"I am confident that our Malaysian friends will deliver a spectacular Games. I wish all our athletes all the very best. KL is always a very special venue for our athletes to compete in," he said. "Fly the Singapore flag high."
Low Teo Ping, this year's Singapore Sports Awards organising committee chairman, said the last year was a "very memorable" one for Singapore.
"Our Olympians' spectacular performance in Rio have earned all of them meritorious awards and for some, a spot as a finalist in the main awards," said Low, who was Singapore's chef de mission at the Rio Games.
Referring to finalists such as fencer Lau Ywen and bowler New Hui Fen, he added: "Other than the Olympic Games, Team Singapore also put on splendid performances in many local and international competitions."
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR
- Joseph Schooling (Swimming)
SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
- New Hui Fen (Bowling)
SPORTSBOY OF THE YEAR
- Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin (Silat)
SPORTSGIRL OF THE YEAR
- Lau Ywen (Fencing)
COACH OF THE YEAR
Eddie Reese (Swimming)
TEAM OF THE YEAR (EVENT)
- Canoe, Women's K2 500m: Stephenie Chen, Geraldine Lee
BEST SPORTS EVENT OF THE YEAR (LOCAL)
- Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016
BEST SPORTS EVENT OF THE YEAR (INTERNATIONAL)
- HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens 2016
MOST INSPIRING SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR
- "No big deal? Such sporting deeds deserve retelling" by Rohit Brijnath, The Straits Times
BEST SPORTS PHOTO OF THE YEAR
- Schools National A Division rugby semi-finals between Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Anglo-Chinese Junior College by Danny Toh
Correction Note: An earlier version said Joseph Schooling was the first male athlete to win the Sportsman of the Year three years in a row. This is incorrect. We are sorry for the error.