Bring Singapore to the world: 2018 Commonwealth Games chef de mission Mark Chay

From left: Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin, 2018 Commonwealth Games chef de mission Mark Chay and assistant CDM Lim Heem Wei with the Queen's Baton yesterday. The Queen's Baton arrived from Brunei yesterday and will head to
From left: Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin, 2018 Commonwealth Games chef de mission Mark Chay and assistant CDM Lim Heem Wei with the Queen's Baton yesterday. The Queen's Baton arrived from Brunei yesterday and will head to Nauru next Tuesday.PHOTO: SNOC

Chef de mission wants Republic's athletes to play ambassadorial roles at Commonwealth Games

The Queen's Baton - the Commonwealth Games' equivalent to the Olympic torch - is made partly of recycled plastic picked up along the beaches of 2018 host city Gold Coast to spread the message of sustainability.

The implement, which glows in different hues with the help of neon lights and carries Queen Elizabeth's message for the Commonwealth's 52 nations, is also made from macadamia wood, which is indigenous to Australia.

Likewise, Mark Chay hopes Singapore's athletes can play ambassadorial roles and tell their foreign counterparts more about the Republic.

At an event to welcome the Queen's Baton Relay at the Singapore Botanic Gardens yesterday, the 35-year-old was unveiled as Team Singapore's chef de mission for the 2018 Commonwealth Games from April 4-15.

The former national swimmer and Olympian, who described the responsibility as an "honour and privilege", said: "I would like to give our athletes opportunities to interact with athletes from beyond South-east Asia.

"The Queen's Baton, for example, shows how deeply rooted sport is in the traditions of Australia. It is made from macadamia wood. That really brought the spirit of Australia to Singapore.

WHAT HE HOPES TO ACHIEVE

I hope to bring a more athlete-centric style of leadership after having gone through the same things as them.

MARK CHAY, Singapore's chef de mission for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, on his leadership style.

"Likewise, I hope our athletes can step up to that role and be ambassadors at the Commonwealth Games and bring Singapore to the world."

Team Singapore have been allocated 69 slots for athletes and the list will be finalised next year.

At the 2014 edition in Glasgow, the Republic won eight gold, five silver and four bronze medals, including a first-ever medal in swimming (silver) by Joseph Schooling in the 100m butterfly.

Chay added: "I hope to bring a more athlete-centric style of leadership after having gone through the same things as them.

"The demands on athletes are very evident these days and so much resources have been put into preparing them for competition.

"Now with social media, the expectations (on) the athletes are tremendous. But I hope to be able to give them peace of mind by taking care of things like accommodation and food and give them every chance to succeed at the Games."

The Queen's Baton Relay is a Games tradition that celebrates the Commonwealth's diversity.

The Queen's Baton arrived yesterday morning from Brunei and will stop at landmarks such as the Merlion Park and Marina Bay Sands before departing for the Pacific island of Nauru next Tuesday .

There was also a surprise birthday cake presented to swimmer Roanne Ho and shooter Martina Lindsay Veloso, who turned 25 and 18 respectively yesterday.

Ho, who battled from a collapsed lung and tear in her right shoulder muscle to win the 50m breaststroke gold in August's SEA Games, said: "The Gold Coast Games will be my first Commonwealth Games and I am really excited to compete there. Since my surgeries last year, recovery and training have been on track. Setting a national record and winning the SEA Games was a bonus.

"It's not time to rest on my laurels. The times at the Commonwealth level are much faster and I believe I have more in the tank to push further."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2017, with the headline 'Bring Singapore to the world: Chay'. Print Edition | Subscribe