Combat rations, rabbit meat fuel some of S'pore's SEA Games medallists: James Wong recalls 2003 Hanoi moments

To celebrate the Games, ST asked some of Singapore’s finest athletes to reflect on their most memorable moments. In the second of a five-part series, former national discus thrower James Wong describes his experience.

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Representing Singapore at the SEA Games while sticking to a strict diet of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) combat rations. That was what James Wong, one of the Republic's sporting legends, found out about our silat exponents during the 2003 Hanoi Games and that memory stuck with him.

While telling The Straits Times his most memorable SEA Games moments, Wong recalled learning about the field rations that sustained our silat athletes in the Vietnamese capital that year.

"I wondered how come they never ate in our cafeteria. I later found out that they actually brought their own food. They brought the SAF combat rations because they wanted to control their diet and they didn't want to be distracted," said the 53-year-old Wong, adding that the silat exponents did well.

For the record, the Republic's silat contingent racked up three gold, five silver and 11 bronze medals in Hanoi that year.

Wong added that at the end of the day, what makes you perform is not so much the food, but your mindset.

Another memorable moment for him was being served rabbit meat, also at the 2003 Hanoi Games. A lot of athletes shunned it as they were afraid it would give them tummy issues. But the adventurous Wong was game for it.

"Tastes good lah. Not bad. Tastes like chicken," he said. For the record, Wong retained his discus gold in Hanoi that year, which contributed to his proud record of winning nine titles in the discipline from 1993 to 2011. He also won a gold in the hammer in 1997.

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