Asian Games: A 'B' grade from team chief

Singapore's Chef de Mission Lee Wung Yew speaking during a press conference at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, on Sept 1, 2018.
Singapore's Chef de Mission Lee Wung Yew speaking during a press conference at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, on Sept 1, 2018. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Despite contingent not bettering last Asiad's medal haul, chef de mission happy with outing

Singapore's Asian Games athletes may have fallen slightly short of the initial target of bettering their 2014 haul but, to chef de mission Lee Wung Yew, the 18th Asiad has still been a "very good outing ".

The Republic ended up with four golds, four silvers and 14 bronzes from nine sports, a dip from 2014, when the tally read 5-6-14 from Incheon across eight sports. In 2010, it was 4-7-6 from five sports.

Two of the four golds came from swimming while contract bridge and sailing delivered one each.

Lee said at a press conference in Jakarta yesterday that Team Singapore - who fielded their biggest-ever Asiad contingent of 264 athletes, 202 of whom were debutants - would be awarded a B grade.

In addition to "nice surprises" from contract bridge, archery, ju-jitsu and silat exponents and the canoe-kayak team, he also praised the swimmers and fencers.

Singapore made their maiden appearance in six sports - archery, synchronised swimming, contract bridge, paragliding, ju-jitsu and silat, the last four making their debut at the quadrennial Games.

In addition to the men's team gold from contract bridge, breakthroughs were also made with ju-jitsu contributing a silver through Constance Lien while the women's foil team's bronze was the nation's first Asiad fencing team medal.

MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

What's encouraging is (that) our positive performances from the 2015 SEA Games have held up and we're going in the right direction.

RICHARD GORDON, Singapore Sport Institute's head of high performance sport.

Lee added: "(Swimming) has proven to all of us that they're developing good depth with some very fast swims by the young team.

"We won our first fencing team medal and these athletes are very young and very hyped up. They will be aiming higher now and hopefully (aiming) to qualify for the Olympics one day."

Bowling and sailing had contributed golds - one and three respectively - at previous editions and, while Lee noted that they were sports which had been expected to do better, he said: "There was a reduction of events from six to three per gender, but what we're glad (about) is that the men's team did very well to deliver a bronze."

The three-time Olympic shooter also pointed out that the sailing events in Jakarta were mainly Olympic classes, and that "most of our sailors have spent less than two years in their respective classes".

Richard Gordon, the Singapore Sport Institute's head of high performance sport and athlete life, stressed that, while the results are "overall… slightly lower than our initial expectations", whether the athletes have underperformed is "not a simple yes or no".

There was one Games record, eight national marks and 18 personal bests, and Gordon believes these are "good grounds for hope".

He said: "One of the significant (points) of these Games for Team Singapore is the transition that we're going through, particularly from established stars in the past to younger stars who are emerging. There's been some very encouraging performances in that regard.

"What's encouraging is (that) our positive performances from the 2015 SEA Games have held up and we're going in the right direction."

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu had said before the Games that there was no specific target for Singapore athletes, and Gordon yesterday defended the policy of not making targets for major Games public.

He insisted that the national sports associations and athletes know the targets, but "it's not something that we announce because we don't want to put public pressure on the athletes".

CLOSING CEREMONY

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 02, 2018, with the headline 'A 'B' grade from team chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe