HANOI - Sports administrators hailed the "bright future" ahead for Singapore sport after the showing by its athletes at the SEA Games, with over a third of the 161 medals garnered claimed by debutants.
In a press conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Sunday (May 22) wrapping up the contingent's performance in the Vietnamese capital, Singapore Sport Institute chief Su Chun Wei said: "Team Singapore has done well, we are proud of what we have achieved.
"We want Team Singapore to not be satisfied with whatever achievements, and must always aim to do better. So I must say, yes we have met our targets and expectations in our internal projections."
He however, declined to reveal what that figure was.
The contingent of 424 athletes across 33 sports, clinched 47 gold, 46 silver and 71 bronze medals, after events concluded on the last day of action on Sunday.
Badminton world champion Loh Kean Yew had to settle for silver for the second straight Games, after losing tamely 21-13, 21-13 to Thai world No. 18 Kunlavut Vitidsarn. He was aiming to become the first Singaporean champion since Wong Shoon Keat in 1983.
Regardless, the total haul so far is already Singapore's third-best showing at an away SEA Games, behind only Kuala Lumpur (58 golds) in 2017 and the Philippines (53) in 2019, both of which featured a significantly larger contingent of athletes.
Singapore's athletes also set five Games records, 16 national marks, and 41 personal bests, as the Republic currently ranks fifth as host nation Vietnam tops the overall medal table.
Swimmer Quah Jing Wen, 21, was the best individual performer with six gold medals, while 18-year-old teammate Gan Ching Hwee claimed five of her own.
Their contributions helped Singapore mine 21 gold, 11 silvers and 12 bronze medals in swimming as they finished the top nation in their sport, as did fencing (6-4-5) and bowling (3-1-3).
Pencak silat was also highlighted for its best showing at the biennial Games with a 4-3-4 return, while athletics took home 11 medals (1-3-7) for their best tally since 1993.
Su was pleased by Singapore's 245 debutants - of 57 per cent of the contingent - and singled out Kimberly Ong (wushu), Letitia Sim (swimming) and Elle Koh (fencing) as standouts.
He added: "More than half our contingent our debutants and we know (they) have done well.
"This is a testament to the ability of the Singapore high-performance system to regenerate and to have a new cohort of athletes coming up to do us proud."
Su did name several sports - volleyball, basketball, handball and rowing - that leave Hanoi empty-handed and said they "require reflection" on where they can improve and how.
"Some of these sports have come, tried their best and come short... They have a lot to reflect, go back, regroup and determine to do very much better," he said.
"We are committed to work with them and make sure that (up) is the only trajectory we aim for them."
On the men's Under-23 football team, which suffered a fourth straight group stage exit, Su said the team showed "gutsy, gritty" performances.
"I think this is a good start to bigger, better things, and we should get behind the (team)" he said.