Diving: Golden upgrade for synchronised divers

Singapore's 3m springboard synchronised duo of Ashlee Tan (left) and Fong Kay Yian after winning SEA Games silver in Kuala Lumpur in August. A failed drug test has elevated them to champions.
Singapore's 3m springboard synchronised duo of Ashlee Tan (left) and Fong Kay Yian after winning SEA Games silver in Kuala Lumpur in August. A failed drug test has elevated them to champions.PHOTO: SINGAPORE SWIMMING ASSOCIATION

Singaporean duo to be awarded SEA Games gold after Malaysian champion fails drug test

Singapore's first regional diving gold since 1973 was confirmed yesterday after the SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) announced that the three athletes who failed doping tests at this year's SEA Games have been stripped of their medals.

The athletes - Malaysian diver Wendy Ng and Thais Nurisan Loseng (silat) and Benjaporn Sriphanomthorn (swimming) - tested positive for the banned substance sibutramine by the World Anti-Doping Agency at its laboratory in New Delhi on Oct 11.

Sibutramine is an appetite suppressant which is commonly found in weight-loss supplements.

Ng and partner Nur Dhabitah Sabri had won the women's synchronised 3m springboard but with the former's disqualification, Singapore silver medallists Ashlee Tan and Fong Kay Yian have been declared champions.

Sally Lim, the Republic's last Games diving gold medallist, won the 3m springboard event in 1973 on home soil.

The Malaysian media in October had identified Ng as one of the three athletes to fail the drug test.

Fong, 21, said yesterday: "The gold is a nice feather in our cap but what is more important is we continue to roll up our sleeves and work hard."

Added Tan, 17: "There was nothing we could do anyway, since the outcome is out of our control but we need to continue to improve ourselves to be able to achieve gold on our own merit in future Games."

Ng was also stripped of her individual 3m springboard title, with the gold and silver awarded to compatriot Nur Dhabitah and Tan respectively.

Benjaporn's disqualification also benefited another Singaporean, with Chantal Liew awarded the Thai's silver in the women's 10km open-water swimming event.

Liew, 19, said: "It's unfortunate to hear what happened and while it is good news for me and Singapore, I've got to keep working hard to prove myself in the next few competitions to come."

In other medal reshuffles, Vietnam clinched gold in the women's silat team artistic event. Nurisan was part of the Thai team who have been stripped of their title.

Singapore's tally for the KL Games has increased to 58 gold, 59 silver and 72 bronze medals. The Republic remain fourth overall.

Singapore athletes have been awarded medals post-Games before. The men's 4x200m freestyle relay swim team finished fourth at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games but were later awarded bronze after South Korea, who were third, had star swimmer Park Tae Hwan disqualified for doping offences.

The Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) said it would begin the process of retrieving the medals and returning the ones currently held by the athletes once it has received the official results rectification from the SEAGF.

"The SNOC will also award the newly crowned SEA Games gold medallists at the Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme (next year)," added an SNOC spokesman.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2017, with the headline 'Golden upgrade for synchronised divers'. Print Edition | Subscribe