Commonwealth Games: Praise for teen shooter Martina Veloso, chef de mission Mark Chay wants young team to 'gain confidence and improve'

From left: Singapore assistant chef de mission Lim Heem Wei, Singapore National Olympic Council secretary general Chris Chan, CDM Mark Chay and Richard Gordon, head of high performance sports at the Singapore Sports Institute.
From left: Singapore assistant chef de mission Lim Heem Wei, Singapore National Olympic Council secretary general Chris Chan, CDM Mark Chay and Richard Gordon, head of high performance sports at the Singapore Sports Institute.ST PHOTO: COMMONWEALTH GAMES SINGAPORE

GOLD COAST (Australia) - A largely transitional Team Singapore contingent which was selected for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games remains a work in progress.

With a haul of three gold, one silver and one bronze medal so far, with three table tennis finals still to be contested over the weekend, that tally could rise.

Singapore chef de mission Mark Chay, in his performance review of the 59-strong team on Saturday (April 14), a day before the closing ceremony, said he was satisfied everyone had largely "performed to their potential in a very competitive field".

Almost two-thirds, or 39, were making their Games debut and Chay singled out the gritty performances of the young badminton, men's table tennis and rhythmic gymnastics teams.

He added they "have a long runway ahead of them and it is important that they gain confidence in playing at this level and improve from now on".

Special praise was reserved for teen shooter Martina Veloso, who won two golds (10m air rifle and 50m rifle prone). The 18-year-old is the only shooter at the Gold Coast Games to capture two titles.

Another teen athlete, para-swimmer Toh Wei Soong, also stood out. The 19-year-old and Games debutant clinched a bronze in the men's S7 50m freestyle. It was Singapore's first medal in para sports at the quadrennial Games, which since 2002 has included para sports on its programme.

 
 

The highlights contrasted sharply with some disappointing results from the national paddlers.

The women's team, led by world No. 4 and multiple Olympic medallist Feng Tianwei, failed to win gold in the team event for the first time after a shock defeat by India in the final.

Feng also surrendered her singles crown, falling to India's Manika Batra, a player ranked 54 places below her.

The men's team, which had four local-born paddlers plus veteran Gao Ning, who turns 36 in October, finished fourth in the team event. It was the first time Singapore did not secure a medal in this category.

Singapore Table Tennis Association president Ellen Lee had set a pre-Games target of winning all seven golds on offer.

Team Singapore also had to deal with a doping controversy after it was announced on Thursday that para-sprinter Mohammad Khairi Ishak had been provisionally suspended after a positive steroid test. He had been pencilled in to compete in the T47 100m final on Friday but did not get on the plane to Queensland.

At the last Games in Glasgow in 2014, Singapore won eight golds (two from shooting, six from table tennis), five silver and four bronzes.