SINGAPORE - Three athletes who helped Singapore make its mark at the pinnacle of sport were inducted into the Sport Hall of Fame on Tuesday (Aug 8) morning, becoming the latest members of an exclusive club made up of the nation's sporting best.
Surrounded by predecessors and peers, Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and Paralympic medallists Laurentia Tan and Theresa Goh were honoured at the Singapore Sports Museum. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu was the guest of honour.
The three athletes are among the most recognisable in local sport, having accomplished what few - if any - have done in their respective sports.
Schooling, 22, won the Republic's first Olympic gold at the Rio Games last year, taking the 100m butterfly title in an Olympic record of 50.39 seconds. He also has two bronze medals from the World Championships, one of them earned just late last month in Budapest.
Para-equestrienne Tan has four Paralympic medals (three bronzes, one silver) from the 2008 and 2012 Games. She was Singapore's first Paralympic medallist, as well as Asia's first Paralympic equestrian medallist.
The 38-year-old, who was born with cerebral palsy and is also deaf, is a three-time Paralympian, competing in Rio last year despite a nasty fall that left her bedridden for eight weeks before the Paralympics.
Para-swimmer Goh, the torch bearer for disability sport in Singapore for many years, won a bronze in the SB4 100m breaststroke in Rio last year. The 30-year-old, born with spina bifida, stood out for persevering, finally making the podium at her fourth Paralympics.
Ms Fu said: "I would like to congratulate Joseph, Laurentia and Theresa for their outstanding sporting achievements.
"Through years of hard work, perseverance and commitment to excellence, their efforts have placed Singapore on the global sporting map.
"I am sure they will continue to make Singapore proud and inspire the next generation of athletes to strive for even greater heights."
Schooling noted: "This is not a recognition for my personal achievements but also for the unwavering support from my family, friends and coaches who have contributed to my sporting journey...
"I hope to be able to continue breaking new ground to keep the inspiration alive, to encourage the next generation to believe in dreaming big and making them a reality."
For Tan, being inducted into the Sport Hall of Fame carries great significance.
She told The Straits Times: "To know that my sports career and its legacy will forever be a part of Singapore's history… it is an amazing honour and very, very humbling. It is my love and passion for horse riding that I am here."
Tan, Goh and Yip Pin Xiu are the only para-athletes who are inductees into the Sport Hall of Fame. It is a number that Goh hopes will grow - and include even para-athletes who may not have won Paralympic medals.
She said: "It's a great honour, considering that there are only three para-athletes (in the Hall of Fame). But I think we could certainly do better."
A total of 52 athletes had been inducted before the trio, among them sailors Ben Tan, Naomi Tan, Joan Huang; sprinter C. Kunalan; table tennis players Feng Tianwei, Wang Yuegu and Li Jiawei; silat exponent Sheik Alau'ddin and para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu.