Team Singapore seek Asian Games benchmarks

From left: Swimmer and pledge-taker Amanda Lim, para-archer Nur Syahidah Alim, paddler Koen Pang (blocked by flag), chef de mission for Youth Olympic Games Tao Li, chef de mission for Asian Para Games Ali Daud, chef de mission for Asian Games Lee Wun
From left: Swimmer and pledge-taker Amanda Lim, para-archer Nur Syahidah Alim, paddler Koen Pang (blocked by flag), chef de mission for Youth Olympic Games Tao Li, chef de mission for Asian Para Games Ali Daud, chef de mission for Asian Games Lee Wung Yew, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu and Speaker of Parliament and Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin.ST PHOTO: LEE JIA WEN

Chef de mission Lee exhorts athletes to continue 'streak' of success at major events

Team Singapore had record medal hauls at the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games and enjoyed a creditable outing at the Commonwealth Games in April, despite sending its smallest contingent since 2006.

And the chefs de mission for the upcoming Asian Games and Asian Para Games are hopeful that this trend of over-delivering will continue in Jakarta and Palembang.

"With the largest Team Singapore contingent heading to the Asian Games, we are certainly expecting the best of them," said Asian Games chef de mission Lee Wung Yew, a former national shooter. "They have outdone themselves consistently at recent major Games, and we hope this streak continues in Indonesia."

Team Singapore garnered 84 SEA Games golds on home ground in 2015, 58 last year (their best away haul at the regional meet) and left the Gold Coast with five Commonwealth titles in April.

"If you are looking at medal expectations, we are looking at three main sports - sailing, bowling and swimming - but we are also looking at possibly nice surprises in other sports as well," added Lee, at the official flag presentation at the Padang yesterday.

A total of 265 athletes from 21 sports will compete in the Aug 18-Sept 2 Asian Games in Indonesia, with athletes from synchronised swimming, ju-jitsu and paragliding making their Asiad debuts. The previous record was 240 at the 2010 Guangzhou Games.

PODIUM HOPEFULS

If you are looking at medal expectations, we are looking at three main sports - sailing, bowling and swimming - but we are also looking at possibly nice surprises in other sports as well.

LEE WUNG YEW, Singapore's chef de mission for the Asian Games, on the prospects for the team's contingent.

In addition to the three sports that Lee has identified as having medal potential, the Republic's shooters, fencers, paddlers and silat exponents are also contenders for podium finishes.

Team Singapore won five golds, six silvers and 13 bronzes at the last Asiad in Incheon, South Korea. Their best-ever performance remains the 2006 Doha Games, when they took home eight golds, seven silvers and 12 bronzes.

Ali Daud, who will lead the Republic's contingent at the Oct 8-13 Para Games, was similarly optimistic.

He said: "Our para-athletes are fully committed and training very hard for the Games. I am confident that our athletes will do better than the last Games in South Korea."

The Republic will send 44 athletes across 10 sports for the Para Games, including swimming's Paralympic medallists Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu, as well as badminton world champion Tay Wei Ming.

The Republic won one gold, one silver and four bronzes at the last Asian Para Games in Incheon.

Also unveiled at the event were Singapore's flag-bearers for the Asiad, Asian Para Games and the Oct 6-18 Youth Olympic Games (YOG). They are Hoe Wah Toon (gymnastics), Nur Syahidah Alim (archery) and Koen Pang (table tennis) respectively.

Hoe, 29, said: "All of us just want to do our best... maybe break some personal records or achieve some personal milestones. I think that's what's important for us. A medal or a podium finish - it's just a bonus."

At the flag presentation, Speaker of Parliament and Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin urged the athletes to "do us proud". "Be the best ambassadors you can be for Singapore," he said, as he and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu presided over the ceremony.

Ms Fu added: "Our athletes show what Singaporeans have the potential to achieve when we put our hearts into it, when we work hard and are prepared to make personal sacrifices, and when we are determined to overcome the obstacles we face."

GetActive! Singapore - a series of sports festivals, ground-up sports initiatives and competitions - was launched at the same event. More than 12,000 people took part in the activities, including an Olympic Day Run and Nila Run.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2018, with the headline 'Team Singapore seek Asian games benchmarks'. Print Edition | Subscribe