SINGAPORE - In what is a growing trend to appoint younger former athletes as heads of contingents for major Games, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) on Friday (Feb 16) named former national fencer Juliana Seow as Team Singapore's chef de mission for the Nov 30-Dec 11 SEA Games in the Philippines.
The 46-year-old will be assisted by former national sailor Chung Pei Ming, 36, and ex-national bowler Valerie Teo, 34.
Seow, who is also president of Fencing Singapore, said: "It is a tremendous privilege to be given this opportunity to represent Singapore at the upcoming SEA Games.
"Preparations for the Games are under way for the national sport associations (NSAs) and athletes who are working hard to meet the qualifying criteria.
"With a record number of 56 sports held in a compact 10 days over more than 20 venues spread across Metro Manila, New Clark City and Subic Bay at the Games, we anticipate a large contingent to qualify.
"While it is going to be challenging logistically, Valerie and Pei Ming will work tirelessly with me and the secretariat to provide invaluable support to the athletes.
"They are backed by their own experiences as high-performance athletes and professional careers to help our athletes."
Drawing from her experience as Singapore Bowling Federation vice-president, a medical doctor and Asian Games and SEA Games medallist, Teo will ease into her role with her understanding of an athlete's needs, as well as the demands each one faces.
The 2003 Sportsgirl of the Year said: "I am looking forward to this opportunity to work with the national sports associations and provide utmost support to our Team Singapore athletes and create a conducive environment for them to perform at their very best."
Chung, a 2007 SEA Games gold medallist, added: "When I was a competitive athlete, the ethos and spirit of the sailing team motivated me to think and act beyond myself.
"I hope to share my experiences with the Singapore contingent, and I look forward to supporting the team to the best of my abilities."
In recent times, there has been a new wave of CDMs and assistants who include Mark Chay, 36, and Lim Heem Wei, 29 (Commonwealth Games); Lee Wung Yew, 52, Azhar Yusof, 45, and Ruth Ng, 31 (Asian Games); and Tao Li, 29 (Youth Olympics).
SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan said: "We have received positive feedback from the athletes and officials on the appointments of former athletes as chefs de mission at recent major Games. We are glad that they all played a positive role in the team.
"We are confident that Juliana, Valerie and Pei Ming will be able to step up to the task and apply their knowledge and experience as former athletes and sports administrators to lead Team Singapore to a successful outing."
Former national fencer Nicholas Fang, who was 39 when he was SEA Games co-CDM on home soil in 2015 with veteran Tan Eng Liang, added: "It is useful to have people who understand the real ground issues and challenges and the way athletes think.
"I hope to see these new CDMs not just be figureheads, but also give constructive advice to help the different NSAs improve and do well at the major Games."