It has been 56 years since Tan Howe Liang won Singapore's first Olympic medal. Yesterday, the 83-year-old was again honoured by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which conferred the IOC Diploma of Merit on the former weightlifter.
Tan, along with Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) secretary-general Chris Chan and vice-president Dr Tan Eng Liang, received the award last night for contributions to the Olympic movement.
They are the first Singaporeans to receive the award, which was presented by SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin and Singapore's IOC member Ng Ser Miang.
Ng said the award recognised the contributions of each recipient to the growth of sport in Singapore. He pointed out that Tan's Olympic silver medal still inspires aspiring athletes today.
Tan was accompanied by his wife last night at the ceremony at Faber Peak Singapore, and the former weightlifter was approached by younger athletes, including 16-year-old shooter Martina Lindsay Veloso, to autograph a commemorative Olympic book.
Said Ng: "Howe Liang is an icon and he continues to inspire.
"With the Rio (de Janeiro) Games coming up, people like Howe Liang will be an inspiration for all the Singapore athletes. As we progress, we learn to appreciate (his achievement) more."
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan said in his speech: "Often, we seek inspiration from figures in sport, from people whose hearts are in sport not for expedient reasons or for personal benefit, but for all the priceless values that sport upholds.
"Howe Liang, Eng Liang and Chris have demonstrated these values through their commitment to sports."
Chan has been SNOC secretary-general since 2002. The 66-year-old former vice-president of the Olympic Council of Asia is responsible for the day-to-day running of the SNOC.
The SNOC is in charge of selecting athletes to the Olympics as well as the Asian, Commonwealth and SEA Games.
Dr Tan has served as SNOC's vice-president since 1991. Having played water polo at the 1956 Olympics, he said his love for sports kept him committed to his role as an administrator after he retired from the pool.
The 79-year-old, who received the IOC Olympic Movement Unity Trophy in 1995, said: "It's the love in wanting to do something for sports in Singapore."
This is not the first time that Singapore has received recognition from the IOC. Since 1986, 30 IOC awards have been handed out.
ActiveSG, Sport Singapore's national programme for sports, was awarded the IOC Sport and Innovation Trophy for its efforts to encourage Singaporeans to take up sports.