SEA Games gold

Surprise wins sweeten Singapore's medal haul

Golfer Marc Ong celebrates after winning a sudden-death play-off in the SEA Games team event against regional powerhouse Thailand.
Golfer Marc Ong celebrates after winning a sudden-death play-off in the SEA Games team event against regional powerhouse Thailand.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/THE MINES RESORT & GOLF CLUB

In a sea of numbers, one stood out this year in Kuala Lumpur. Five hundred and sixty national athletes went to the SEA Games and they won 58 golds, 58 silvers and 72 bronzes while setting 15 Games records, 13 national records, and 29 personal bests. And yet the number that resonates most is five.

Every gold medal is laudable, yet five of them were surprises.

If you had to rank the five just for fun, the stand-out performances of bowlers Basil Ng, Jaris Goh, Darren Ong, Keith Saw and Cheah Ray Han, who scored a total of 6,399 pinfalls to win the men's team gold, might lead the pack. They were up against home favourites Malaysia, who took the team gold in 2015 and 2011, but clinched the Republic's first title in the event since 1995.

A close second to the bowlers were the male golfers, who won the nation's first SEA Games golf team gold medal - and in dramatic style.

The team of Gregory Foo, Joshua Shou, Marc Ong and Joshua Ho beat regional powerhouse Thailand in a sudden-death play-off after both sides were tied at the end of the matchplay competition. Thailand had won the men's team gold in five straight SEA Games before this year.

Then comes cyclist Calvin Sim, who produced a stunning performance in Negeri Sembilan to take home the men's omnium gold with 140 points from four events - scratch, tempo, elimination and points race.

It was Singapore's first men's SEA Games gold in the sport since 1997 and it came on the home ground of the region's strongest cyclists - Malaysia won 11 of 13 track cycling events at the 2017 Games in August.

In squash, Samuel Kang, Benedict Chan, Pang Ka Hoe and Vivian Rhamanan (reserve) beat the Philippines 2-1 to clinch the Republic's first men's team gold since 1995 while Michelle Sng became the first local female high jumper in 52 years to win gold at the biennial event.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2017, with the headline 'Surprise wins sweeten Singapore's medal haul'. Print Edition | Subscribe