Swimming siblings Quah Zheng Wen, Ting Wen up for top honours at Singapore Sports Awards

Siblings Quah Zheng Wen (left) and Quah Ting Wen are among the nominees for this year's Singapore Sports Awards.
Siblings Quah Zheng Wen (left) and Quah Ting Wen are among the nominees for this year's Singapore Sports Awards.PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO, DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Quah swimming siblings Zheng Wen and Ting Wen could create history at the Singapore Sports Awards this month by becoming the first brother and sister pair to win the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year after both earned nominations for their achievements last year.

Their younger sister Jing Wen is also in the running for the Sportsgirl of the Year award.

Ting Wen is up against Cheyenne Goh (ice skating), Tessa Neo (shooting) and Cherie Tan (bowling) for the Sportswoman of the Year gong.

The 28-year-old, who won six gold medals at last year’s SEA Games in the Philippines, said the nomination is a form of encouragement for the trio.

“It’s particularly meaningful because 2019-2020 has not been an easy year for us and there have been many transitions and challenges, but we are still hanging on to our dream of being in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics together representing Singapore,” she said on Sunday (Oct 11).

Ting Wen, who is in Budapest to compete for International Swimming League team, DC Trident, also lowered the 50m freestyle national record twice and the 100m free record four times last year.

Zheng Wen, 24, will have to fend off the challenge from fellow nominees, veteran billiards world champion Peter Gilchrist – who took home his first Sportsman award in 2014 – and silat exponent Sheik Ferdous Sheik Alau’ddin.

Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, who won the accolade six times in 2012 and 2015-2019, is not in the running this year.

Zheng Wen, who is an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, is gunning for his first Sportsman accolade after making a splash at the SEA Games in the Philippines last year, where he was named the Games’ Most Valuable Player for male athletes after bagging six golds and two silvers.

The finalists for the awards were revealed by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) in a press release on Sunday (Oct 11). Organised by the SNOC and Sport Singapore, and supported by the Tote Board Group, the Sports Awards honour the most deserving individuals and teams in sports for the year 2019.

This year's awards on Oct 28 will also see a newcomer crowned Sportswoman of the Year, with the nominees comprising Ting Wen (swimming), Cheyenne Goh (ice skating), Tessa Neo (shooting), and Cherie Tan (bowling).

The heroics of the national men's softball team also earned them a nomination for Team of the Year (Team Sport) alongside the women's floorball team. Last year was a breakthrough season for the softball team,  who competed at the Men's Softball World Championship for the first time since 1992 before going on to clinch a first-ever gold medal at the SEA Games.

The nomination came as a pleasant surprise for former captain Ivan Ng, who retired after the SEA Games.

The 32-year-old, who had captained the team for a decade, said: "It was fortunate that we made history and that motivated a lot of youngsters, who want to continue this legacy. It was great not just for softball in Singapore but those overseas too because they now think it's possible to turn the tide.

"For myself, it was great to end with the historic SEA Games gold and this nomination is unexpected so it's the cherry on top."

It was also a memorable year for the women's floorball team, who won Team of the Year (Team Sport) in 2018, as they successfully defended their SEA Games gold medal with a 3-2 win over Thailand in the final.

Louise Khng, the women’s team coach from 2017 till January this year, said: “It’s a recognition of their hard work and performances in the last year. They play well as a unit and that’s really important in team sports because it helps when we face tough opponents in events of the highest level.”

The 37-year-old was also grateful to be one of the six nominees in the Coach of the Year category, adding: “I would have never expected to be nominated for such an award.”

Less than a week later, they were back in action at the Women's World Floorball Championship in Neuchatel, Switzerland, where they finished in their best-ever position of 12th.

The Straits Times' Muhammad Sazali Abdul Aziz and Rohit Brijnath are among the four nominees for the Most Inspiring Sport Story of the Year. The other two nominees are Chia Han Keong of Yahoo News Singapore and Justin Kor of the SNOC.

This year's main awards selection committee was chaired by SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin and the selection committee for the Sportsboy and Sportsgirl awards was helmed by its vice-president Jessie Phua.

This year's winners will be announced at a presentation ceremony on Oct 28, which will only be attended by finalists owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The event will be stream lived on SNOC's Facebook page.

Phua, chairman of the award's organising committee, said: "While we are unable to gather for the awards ceremony this year, it doesn't mean we can't still celebrate the sporting fraternity's achievements in the last year.

"Our heartiest congratulations to the finalists, and we hope that supporters will tune in on Oct 28 to cheer on the winners."

THE NOMINEES:

Sportsman of the Year: Peter Edward Gilchrist (Cuesports), Quah Zheng Wen (Swimming), Sheik Ferdous Sheik Alau'ddin (Silat)

Sportswoman of the Year: Cheyenne Goh (Ice skating), Tessa Neo (Shooting), Quah Ting Wen (Swimming), Cherie Tan (Bowling)

Sportsboy of the Year: Darren Chua (Swimming), Muhammad Hazim Mohd Yusli (Silat), Koen Pang (Table Tennis)

Sportsgirl of the Year: Amita Marie Nicolette Berthier (Fencing), Siti Khadijah Mohamed Shahrem (Silat), Quah Jing Wen (Swimming), Arianne Tay (Bowling)

Coach of the Year: Gao Ning (Table Tennis), Mulyo Handoyo (Badminton), Kirill Ivanov (Shooting), Louise Khng (Floorball), Stephan Widmer (Swimming), Jason Yeong-Nathan (Bowling)

Team of the Year (Team Sport): Floorball women's team, softball men's team

Team of the Year (Event): Swimming women's 4x200m freestyle team (2019 SEA Games), ice skating men's team 3,000m relay team (2019 SEA Games), bowling women's team of four (2019 SEA Games), fencing women's foil team (2019 SEA Games), silat men's artistic team (2019 SEA Games), underwater hockey women's team (2019 SEA Games)

Sportsboy/Sportsgirl Team of the Year (Event): Bowling mixed team (2019 World Junior Bowling Championships), table tennis men's doubles team (2019 SEA Games)

Best Sports Event of the Year (Local): OCBC Cycle 2019, Play Inclusive 2019, Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2019

Best Sports Event of the Year (International): FINA Swimming World Cup 2019, HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens 2019, 2019 International Champions Cup Singapore presented by AIA, Super League Triathlon Singapore

Most Inspiring Sport Story of the Year: Is Singapore truly a sporting city? by Muhammad Sazali Abdul Aziz (The Straits Times), Heroes are found on all types of wheels by Rohit Brijnath (The Straits Times), World champ Constance Lien wants to give back after her second chance in sport by Chia Han Keong (Yahoo News Singapore), Sharpshooter's 80-year passion for basketball by Justin Kor (SNOC)

Best Sports Photo of the Year: Andy Chua, Leandro Ngo, Lim Sau Boon, Lim Weixiang, Kohei Ueno