SINGAPORE - Before Thursday (Feb 21), The Straits Times Young Athlete of the Year 2018 nominee Sean See never thought he stood a chance of winning the award.
"I told my mum I'm never going to win because (my nomination) was for an act and not for winning something, but the other (nominees) won trophies and medals," said the 16-year-old.
But the "surprised" former St Andrew's Secondary School hockey captain beat four other nominees - footballer Putri Nur Syaliza, high jumper Kampton Kam, floorball player John Alicante Embile and the ACS (Barker Road) table tennis team - to clinch the award, which was given out by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the Shangri-La Hotel on Thursday.
"I guess I'm just happy I won.
"It's too many emotions to express right now but I'm grateful to the people who chose me for this award and for those who nominated me."
Sean was feted for his act of sportsmanship in the B Division bronze-medal hockey match between the Saints and Northland Secondary School last March.
The Saints had control of the ball when play resumed after an injury stoppage, and one of the forwards scored from that passage of play to put the Saints 2-1 up.
After a discussion with his coach, Sean requested the umpire rule out the goal as the opponents were not ready. The game ended 1-1 and, in the penalty shoot-out, Northland won 4-3 to leave the Saints in fourth place.
ST sports editor Lee Yulin said: "Winning is not the only thing that matters, especially at the schools level.
"Sean's act of sportsmanship, especially when there was a medal at stake, is to be lauded and we are thrilled to recognise him as the Young Athlete of the Year."
Sean revealed that he became the subject of some good-natured ribbing by his friends following media coverage of his act in 2018.
"Occasionally they'll still text me and say 'good job', and I'll thank them," said Sean, who will start his mechatronics course at Temasek Polytechnic's School of Engineering in 2019.
"I felt (the recognition) was out of proportion, that what I did was just a normal thing."
Sean, who plays for the Singapore Khalsa Association team, will continue to play hockey recreationally "because it's fun and I enjoy the sport".
Still, he hopes that fellow young athletes remember a valuable lesson from his deed: "Playing fair is more important than winning."