SEA Games: 28 memorable moments of the 28th Games

Shanti Pereira is tossed into the air by her Team Singapore teammates at the end of the closing ceremony.
Shanti Pereira is tossed into the air by her Team Singapore teammates at the end of the closing ceremony.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - The 28th Southeast-Asia (SEA) Games, which ended with a party-like flourish on Tuesday (June 16) night after 12 days of intense competition, has been a truly memorable ride. 

With milestones and talking points - both sporting and non-sporting - aplenty, the Straits Times looks back at the top 28 moments. 

1. Stunning Schooling

Joseph Schooling raising two fingers to his lips in celebration after winning the men's 50m freestyle in a new national record of 22.47 seconds on June 8, 2015. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN 

Nine golds in nine events. Seven individual Games records. And the breaking of a 50m freestyle mark that had stood for 32 years. If there ever was any shred of doubt in swimmer Joseph Schooling's ability to deliver, there can be none now.

Singapore's swimming wonder, who celebrated his 20th birthday on June 16, has even caught the attention of English Premier League champions Chelsea - read the interview it did with him on their website here

2. Alfian sheds blood, sweat and tears for silat gold

Singapore's silat exponent Nur Alfian celebrating after his win in the tanding Class F (70-75kg) final on June 14, 2015. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The sight of Muhammad Nur Alfian Juma'en's emotional, tear-streaked face as he stood on the winners' podium to the tune of Majulah Singapura will be forever seared into the memories of those present at the Singapore Expo Hall 2 on June 14.

Not only did the injured 18-year-old - he suffered a nasty cut on his foot midway through the tanding Class F (70-75kg) final - defy the odds to defeat world champion Tran Dinh Nam of Vietnam, he was shouldering the burden of winning the sport's only gold - and Singapore's landmark 80th - at this Games.

3. Shanti's blaze of glory

Sprinter Shanti Pereira, holding the Singapore flag, makes her victory lap after winning the women's 200m race on June 10, 2015. PHOTO: SINGAPORE SEA GAMES ORGANISING COMMITTEE/ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

Not since 1973 has a Singapore female sprinter tasted victory in the 200m race. But an undaunted Shanti Pereira emulated the great Glory Barnabas by doing just that, lowering the national record twice in the process on June 10.

"I'm so crazily happy, I can't describe how I feel right now," said the 18-year-old, whose time of 23.60 seconds beat pre-race favourite and 100m winner Kayla Richardson of the Philippines.

4. Revenge is sweet 

Singapore's netballers posing with their gold medals after beating fierce rivals Malaysia 46-43 in the final on June 7. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Coming into the Games, the national netball team had their reputation as reigning Asian champions to protect. They were also on a mission to make up for 14 years of hurt, having lost the gold medal in 2001 - the last time the sport featured at the Games - to Causeway rivals Malaysia.

The team withstood the pressure, bounced back from a draw against their Causeway rivals in the round-robin stage, and emerged victorious in a tense but electric final on June 7, beating Malaysia 46-43.

5. National Anthem pride

Singapore's female quartet of Quah Ting Wen, Amanda Lim, Rachel Tseng and Christie Chue thanking the crowd after their 4x200m freestyle relay win on June 8, 2015 ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Swimmer Quah Ting Wen has called it the most memorable moment of the Games for her, and many will agree.

The track for the National Anthem Majulah Singapura stopped midway through the victory ceremony for the Singapore women's 4x200m freestyle relay quartet of Quah, Christie Chue, Amanda Lim and Rachel Tseng on June 8 due to a faulty PA system. But the patriotic crowd were in fine voice and carried on singing. A truly proud moment for Singapore at the Games.

Watch the video below from just before the 5min mark.

6. Outpouring of emotion for Sabah earthquake victims

Singapore (right) and Cambodian footballers standing in unison as they observe a minute of silence as a mark of respect for the victims of the Sabah earthquake at the Jalan Besar Stadium on June 8, 2015. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

A shadow was cast over the Games when the opening ceremony on June 5 coincided with a 6.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Sabah, which claimed the lives of 10 people from Singapore.

The Singapore Government declared June 8 a Day of Remembrance to pay tribute to the victims, with all SEA Games venues observing a minute of silence as a mark of respect. Many Team Singapore athletes, including the Under-23 football squad, the national paddlers and men's hockey team, paid emotional visits to the tribute corner set up at Tanjong Katong Primary School.

7. Sportsmanship still exists

Ashley Liew crossing the finishing line in the men's marathon on June 7, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG 

Singaporean runner Ashley Liew's actions during the men's marathon on June 7 has been lauded by several ministers, including Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu and Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who congratulated Liew on Facebook for "making us proud, as Singaporeans".


Singaporean marathoner Ashley Liew displayed true sportsmanship during the SEA GAMES 2015 He was trailing in the...

Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Tuesday, June 9, 2015

At one point during the race, the 28-year-old found himself with a 50m lead after the 12 other runners took the wrong route. But instead of capitalising on his advantage, he slowed down to give his competitors time to catch up. Liew eventually finished eighth in the race, which was won by compatriot Soh Rui Yong.

8. Decathlete Lance Tan proposes to girlfriend

Sometimes, winning takes a backseat to more important things in life. Singaporean decathlete Lance Tan, 28, might have finished last in most of his events in the men's decathlon, but he ended his SEA Games on a sweet note after proposing to his long-time girlfriend. She said yes, to loud cheers from the crowd at the National Stadium.

He might have missed out on a medal, but he got the girl.

9. Football's father-son pair light Games cauldron

Football legend Fandi Ahmad (right) and his eldest son Irfan carrying the torch at the SEA Games opening ceremony on June 5, 2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Singapore's favourite footballing son Fandi Ahmad and his eldest son Irfan were handed the honour of being the final torchbearers in a stunning finale to the SEA Games opening ceremony, ending in the duo lighting the cauldron.

At 17, Irfan is also the youngest member of the Young Lions and looks poised to follow in his famous father's footsteps.

10. Aide Iskandar resigns as Young Lions coach 

An early exit from the group stages of the SEA Games football tournament culminated in the shock resignation of coach Aide Iskandar, in the immediate aftermath of his team's 1-0 loss to Indonesia on June 11. 

The former national captain, who has been under fire from fans for his team's poor performances, choked back tears as he announced the news during the post-match press conference. "I thank you all for your support. I want to go back to my family now. They have been waiting for me for a long time," he said. 

11. Singapore end best ever Games campaign with 84 golds

The men's water polo team are all smiles after they beat Indonesia to secure Singapore's 84th and final gold medal of the Games on June 16, 2015. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

All the buzz pre-Games was about whether Team Singapore could break the 50-gold barrier, a record that had stood since 1993.

But when the mark was surpassed on June 9 by swimmer Quah Zheng Wen in the men's 400m individual medley, the Class of 2015 far exceeeded expectations by keeping the golden run going, fulfilling ST's bold 80-gold prediction.

Significantly, the hosts also achieved the feat of winning a gold every day since June 3.

12. Host Sharon Au's apology

Co-host Sharon Au during the SEA Games' opening ceremony on June 5, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

The former MediaCorp actress, who was co-hosting the Games' opening ceremony, caused a stir when she was accused of mocking a young Indian girl's accent.  

Au apologised the next morning on her personal Facebook page. 

13. Oh, what a shot Desmond

It was not a happy ending for Singapore captain Desmond Oh after he was stretchered off in the semi-final loss to Indonesia, but at least he can take comfort in scoring what was probably the shot of the basketball competition.

The 28-year-old shooting guard's audacious half-court three-pointer in a closely-contested group stage tie against Thailand - which Singapore won 65-58 - was worthy of any highlight reel.

In Oh's absence, the team beat the Thais again in the bronze-medal match to replicate their achievement in 2013. 

14. Breakthrough medals for Singapore

Singapore's Marcus Phua and Vivian Rhamanan defeated Indonesia in the squash men's jumbo doubles finals to take home the gold medal. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

While the usual suspects delivered, there were also unexpected golds from the synchronised swimming team, rhythmic gymnasts and retiring swimmer Roanne Ho in the 50m breaststroke. 

Other notable mentions include a first squash gold medal since 1995 for Vivian Rhamanan and Marcus Phua in the men's jumbo doubles the the first pole vault medal - a silver - for Rachel Yang after she cleared a height of 3.90m. 

15. Boxer's never-say-die spirit

Singapore's Mohamed Hanurdeen Hamid (in red) competes with Philippine's Ian Clark Bautista (in blue) during the Men's Flyweight Boxing Final at the 28th SEA Games. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Despite sporting a large bruise near his left eye after his semi-final bout, local boxer Mohamed Hanurdeen Hamid went against the doctor's advice and refused to withdraw from the final against overwhelming favourite Ian Clark Bautista of Philippines. He lost, but won the hearts of the vocal home support who cheered him every step of the way. 

"I really wanted to perform well," said Hanurdeen who teared up after the match. "Nobody likes being second, especially on home ground. With one eye, I managed to complete three rounds - I think that's a good performance."

16. The unsung heroes

Nila the mascot lends a helping hand at the Singsoc Logistic Centre (SLC), at the Jurong headquarters of local company CWT Limited. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

They filled diverse roles - from ushering, co-ordinating logistics, to capturing images of competition. But all worked tirelessly, dedicating time and effort to ensure a smooth running of the Games from behind the scenes.

The closing ceremony paid tribute to the 17,000 volunteers who form Team Nila, as they are affectionately known, with more than 500 representatives received with thunderous applause at the National Stadium

17. A familial affair

Mother and son duo Low Luan Eng (right) and Ang Han Teng, training at Queenstown Stadium on May 17, 2015. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

From siblings to cousins, to parents and children, the 28th SEA Games were made up of athletes who were not merely team-mates.

Singapore's contingent was made up of siblings like the Quahs in swimming (Ting Wen, Zheng Wen and Jing Wen), mother and son pair Low Luan Eng and Ang Han Teng in archery and cousins Tan Yi Ru and Toh Li Min in hockey.

Other contingents also fielded athletes like siblings and sailors Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy and sister Khairunneeta.

18. Cyclists hit by food poisoning

Singapore's Darren Low in the Men's cycling individual time trial race of the 28th SEA Games. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Several cyclists from Singapore and Malaysia were hit by a suspected bout of food poisoning on June 11 - among those affected was Dinah Chan, who failed to defend her women's individual time-trial crown and settled for bronze.

It was the second time that food poisoning had struck a major sporting event hosted in Singapore, following an incident during the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

19. Filipino divers' perfect retort

Two Filipino divers who became a laughing stock on the Internet for their failed attempts in the 3m springboard event on June 6 hit back with classy retorts that earned praise from netizens. 

20. Much ado over "aurat"

Malaysia’s Farah Ann Abdul Hadi on her way to winning gold in the floor exercise at the 28th SEA Games. PHOTO: ZAOBAO

Despite doing her country proud with a glittering six-medal haul, including two golds in the women's floor exercise and team events, Malaysian gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi was the subject of online criticism for wearing revealing attire. 

Thankfully, common sense prevailed as thousand of supporters - joined by several high-profile figures such as Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin - spoke up in her defence. 

21. Champagne football by the Thais

The Thailand football team celebrates winning the gold medal at the 28th SEA Games. PHOTO: SINGSOC/ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

Seven wins in seven matches, 24 goals scored and one conceded told its own story of just how good the War Elephants were as they romped to back-to-back SEA Games football titles.

Spearheaded by lethal five-goal striker Pombubpha Chananan, Thailand played an attractive brand of passing football that looked a class above their regional rivals.

22. Gender bender

Female Indonesian volleyball player Aprilia Santini Manganang in action against Vietnam on June 11, 2015. PHOTO: SINGAPORE SEA GAMES ORGANISING COMMITTEE/ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

Controversy arrived in the form of a protest over the gender of female Indonesian volleyball player Aprilia Santini Manganang. The Philippines had demanded that the Games organisers carry out a gender test, citing Manganang's appearance and powerful physique as too masculine. The appeal was rejected.

Indonesia's opening game against the Philippines on June 10 was marred by large sections of the crowd, made up mostly of Filipinos, booing Manganang. Indonesia eventually won 25-22, 25-20, 25-14.

"Thank you," she said in Bahasa Indonesia. "(The controversy) gave me more spirit to play and win during the match." 

23. Vietnam's golden girl

Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Anh Vien (white cap) celebrates after winning one of her swimming events at the 28th SEA Games. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Not content to allow Joseph Schooling to hog the limelight, Nguyen Thi Anh Vien took the OCBC Aquatic Centre by storm, winning eight golds - just one shy of Schooling - and smashing five Games records. 

What's even more impressive was that Vietnam's two-time Athlete of the Year did it all on her own, taking part in an astounding 13 individual events and medalling in 10 of them. 

24. New sprint champions crowned

Filipino runner Eric Cray (centre) in the SEA Games men's 100m race on June 9, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Thailand were dethroned as the region's sprint champions when the Filipino pair of Eric Cray (10.25 seconds) and Kayla Richardson (11.76sec) claimed the men's and women's 100m titles.   

Both Filipino-American runners sparked a minor outcry back in the Philippines when they were spotted with an upside-down national flag on their track attire. 

25. Remembering fourth-placed

Malaysia's Hamizan Ahmad Luth, who finished fourth in the men's 3,000m steeplechase. PHOTO: EPA

Finishing fourth, writes ST's Rohit Brijnath, is the cruellest place to be in - these are the athletes who are almost-famous, caught in sport's "if only" territory.

To honour their efforts, ST spoke to eight SEA Games athletes who just missed out on a medal despite giving their all.

26. Eye candy galore

Filipino volleyballer Rachel Anne Daquis. PHOTOS: DESMOND FOO/FHM MAGAZINE (PHILIPPINES)

Team Singapore saw its fair share of attractive athletes, but there was plenty of eye candy on display across the other competing nations. 

ST picked the top 20 whom everyone wished they could have seen more of. 

27. Fan-tastic Myanmar 

Myanmar fans holding aloft a giant flag of their country in the SEA Games football final against Thailand on June 15, 2015. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Their team were outplayed almost everywhere on the pitch in the June 15 football final against Thailand, but Myanmar's superb 12th man - their indefatigable supporters - deserves mention. 

Outnumbering the Thai fans three-to-one at the packed 55,000-seater National Stadium, they never stopped cheering even after the final whistle sounded on a 3-0 defeat. 

28. Foreign athletes who have light up the Games

Malaysian diver Ooi Tze Liang competing in the men's 3m springboard event on June 7, 2015. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The artistic gymnastic events saw Vietnam winning nine of the 14 golds on offer, with Dinh Phuong Tanh victorious in the parallel and horizontal bars, individual all-around, and men's team events.

In diving, Malaysia's utter domination at the regional level continued as they made a clean sweep of all eight diving golds - 21-year-old Ooi Tze Liang led the way with four. 

In table tennis, Thailand's inspired female paddlers were the reason why Singapore failed to win all seven table tennis golds. Feng Tianwei was shocked by Suthasini Sawettabut - the eventual women's singles champion - in the group stages.

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