Judo: Former SEA Games champion Ho Yen Chye, 54, dies of heart failure

Mr Ho Yen Chye (second from right) won a bronze medal at the 1991 SEA Games.
Mr Ho Yen Chye (second from right) won a bronze medal at the 1991 SEA Games.PHOTO: SINGAPORE NATIONAL OLYMPIC COUNCIL/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - It was in Jakarta where he claimed the 1987 SEA Games above-95kg judo gold medal and it was in the Indonesian capital where Singaporean Ho Yen Chye died on Monday (April 12).

He was 54 and leaves behind his parents, wife, a 21-year-old son Nathan from his first marriage, two brothers Hoo Kwok Chye and Hoo Hung Chye, and sister Hoo Fui Ping. According to the family, the cause of death was heart failure.

While Ho won one gold, five silvers and one bronze from the 1983 to 1991 SEA Games, Jakarta was a milestone in his career as he had surprised local favourite Perrence Pantouw in the semi-finals en route to the title.

He also competed at the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing where he finished seventh.

He was also the last judoka to represent Singapore at the Olympics, competing at Barcelona 1992 . He was only the fourth Singaporean to do so, following Ang Teck Bee and Kanapathy Moorthy (Tokyo 1964) and Koh Eng Kian (Montreal 1976).

Kwok Chye, 51, who competed alongside him at the 1989 SEA Games and 1990 Asian Games, said: "It seemed like he had an affinity for Indonesia because that's where he achieved the big win over the three-time defending champion, lived for the past 23 years, had a family, and ran a mineral water business. It is also where he left us.

"Yen Chye picked up judo much earlier than I did but his passion for the sport was so infectious he roped me in to be his sparring partner and that kickstarted my own judo career."

Singapore Judo Federation president Peter Yeo also paid tribute to Ho, saying: "Yen Chye was someone who brought sporting glory to Singapore and he was also our last Olympic judoka.

"He had a great passion for the sport. He picked up judo while he was at St Patrick's School, and when he later went on to Outram Institute and it did not offer judo, he would go and train on his own at People's Association."

Hung Chye, 42, added: "Yen Chye dominated the local heavyweight scene and it was only in overseas competitions where he found a challenge.

"We will always remember him for being the boisterous one and the life of the party."