S'pore to send 59 athletes to Commonwealth Games

Paddlers, shooters represent the main medal hopes for the Republic in Schooling's absence

Shorn of the country's only Olympic gold medallist, Joseph Schooling, the national paddlers and shooters look set to do the heavy lifting again as Team Singapore field a smaller contingent for the April 4 to 15 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia.

The Commonwealth Games Singapore (CGS) selection committee, chaired by CGS president Tan Chuan-Jin, met yesterday to consider the nominations put forward by the national sports associations and decide on the athletes who have qualified for the Games.

Fifty-nine athletes across 12 sports were then selected by the CGS to represent the Republic.

"Table tennis and shooting have delivered in recent Commonwealth Games and we hope they will do well and bring home the silverware once more," said Mark Chay, Team Singapore's chef de mission for the Games.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has introduced a hybrid and transitional model to allocate athletes for the Queensland meet.

The participation of athletes for a select number of sports will be administered through qualification criteria while the remaining sports will be managed via the existing "open-entry" process.

Six national athletes from para-sports, weightlifting and beach volleyball made it through qualification criteria. The CGF also allocated a quota of 53 athletes to Singapore.

CGS secretary general Chris Chan hopes to "obtain more athlete slots after the reallocation exercises conducted by the organisers".

Singapore were represented by 70 athletes in seven sports at the 2014 Games in Glasgow, Scotland. They returned with eight gold, five silver and four bronze medals.

Singapore table tennis player Pang Xuejie hopes to win at least one gold medal and expects India, England and Nigeria to be the Republic's main rivals in the men's team competition.
Singapore table tennis player Pang Xuejie hopes to win at least one gold medal and expects India, England and Nigeria to be the Republic's main rivals in the men's team competition. THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO

In fact, since the 2006 edition in Melbourne, all of Singapore's 24 Commonwealth Games gold medals have come from table tennis (16) and shooting (eight).

The national paddlers have plundered a total of 19 golds - out of Singapore's all-time tally of 32 - since table tennis became a Commonwealth Games sport in 2002.

National paddler Pang Xuejie, who won a men's team gold in 2010, said: "We don't consider ourselves the powerhouses for this edition, but we will give our best and try to get as many medals as possible.

"Our rivals in the men's competition would be India, England and Nigeria. I feel getting medals for all the events are expected. My personal target is definitely to win at least one gold."

Former national swimmer Chay added: "We have an internal medal target we don't want to publicise.

"We have a very dynamic team. Our lawn bowls team that won gold at the Asian championships have an age range of 30 to 60, and this will be the first time we have the para-athletes in the same contingent.

"We want to see how these guys perform as one Team Singapore and be competitive.

"There was a bronze from gymnastics in 2014 and perhaps we could see some medals from those who are not your usual suspects."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore to send 59 athletes to Commonwealth Games'. Print Edition | Subscribe