Top sports award for Reese

Eddie Reese is assured of winning the Coach of the Year accolade at next month's Singapore Sports Awards. The head coach at the University of Texas helped guide Joseph Schooling to gold at the Rio Olympics last year.
Eddie Reese is assured of winning the Coach of the Year accolade at next month's Singapore Sports Awards. The head coach at the University of Texas helped guide Joseph Schooling to gold at the Rio Olympics last year.TNP FILE PHOTO

Schooling mentor is the sole nominee for Coach of the Year category in S'pore

With voting kept secret and professionally audited by a third party, award plaques for the Singapore Sports Awards are typically made to order only after the annual awards ceremony.

This year, organisers can at least get a head start on one top accolade after American Eddie Reese was named Coach of the Year almost a month before the gala on Aug 8.

The veteran swim coach, who turns 76 this month, was the only nominee named in the category when this year's finalists were announced yesterday.

He is neither formally engaged as a coach by the Singapore Swimming Association, nor has he even been based in Singapore - much like Sergio Lopez when he was named the 2014 winner.

The former national head coach was still based at the Bolles School in Florida which Joseph Schooling attended that year.

Reese coached Schooling at the Rio Olympics last year when he won Singapore's first Olympic gold in a Games record of 50.39 seconds in the 100m butterfly.

On assignment with the American squad at the Fina World Championships at the end of the month, Reese is understood to be in Croatia where his charges are acclimatising ahead of the prestigious world meet in Budapest and could not be reached for comment.

  • AWARDS FINALISTS

  • SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR

    - Peter Gilchrist (Cue sports)

    - Shakir Juanda (Silat)

    - Joseph Schooling (Swimming)

    SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR

    - Feng Tianwei (Table tennis)

    - New Hui Fen (Bowling)

    - Nurul Suhaila Mohd Saiful (Silat)

    - Jasmine Ser (Shooting)

    SPORTSBOY OF THE YEAR

    - Bernie Chin (Sailing)

    - Malcolm Lai (Wushu)

    - Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin (Silat)

    SPORTSGIRL OF THE YEAR

    - Amabel Chua (Bowling)

    - Lau Ywen (Fencing)

    - Cindy Lim (Wushu)

    COACH OF THE YEAR

    Eddie Reese (Swimming)

    TEAM OF THE YEAR (EVENT)

    - Canoe, Women's K2 500m: Stephenie Chen, Geraldine Lee

    - Wushu, Women's Duilian: Fung Hui Xin, Emilin Sin

    BEST SPORTS EVENT OF THE YEAR (LOCAL)

    - Great Eastern Women's Run 2016

    - Mission Foods Nations Cup 2016

    - Osim Sundown Marathon 2016

    - Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016

    BEST SPORTS EVENT OF THE YEAR (INTERNATIONAL)

    - BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global

    - Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup 2016 presented by Yakult

    - HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens 2016

    MOST INSPIRING SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR

    - "No big deal? Such sporting deeds deserve retelling" by Rohit Brijnath, The Straits Times

    - "Joseph Schooling reminds us of what it means to be Singaporean" by Leslie Tan, Red Sports

    - "Paralysed after accident but Leow just kept on running" by Low Lin Fhoong, TODAY

    BEST SPORTS PHOTO OF THE YEAR

    - Schools National A Division rugby semi-finals between Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Anglo-Chinese Junior College by Danny Toh

    - Schools National Girls' A Division football 3rd/4th placing match between Saint Andrew's Junior College and Meridian Junior College by Lim Weixiang

    - Schools National swimming championships by Andy Chua

    - Swim fund-raiser for Lions Home for the Elders and Lions Befrienders by Desmond Foo, ST

    - Hug between Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and his father Colin by Alvin Toh

Schooling, 22, could not be contacted either as he was en route to the Croatian coastal town of Opatija.

The Singapore and America teams are training at the same pool ahead of the world championships.

Having been head coach at the University of Texas - where Schooling now studies and trains - for almost four decades, Reese is widely regarded as one of the world's best swim coaches and has received countless coaching awards.

He was the head coach of the USA men's Olympic swim team in 1992, 2004 and 2008, and has built the Texas Longhorns into a powerhouse in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competition.

He was also named the College Swimming Coaches Association of America's Coach of the Year this year, after leading the Longhorns to a third straight national title in March.

With 13 NCAA titles so far, he is the most successful swim coach in a highly competitive collegiate system that often features many world-class swimmers.

One such athlete to have stamped his mark on world sport - Schooling - is one of the Sportsman of the Year finalists and is on course to claim the award for the third consecutive time. He also won it for the first time for his 2011 achievements. If he wins, it would be award No. 4 for him in this category.

Billiards player Peter Gilchrist and silat exponent Muhammad Shakir Juanda are the other finalists.

In the Sportswoman of the Year category, first-time nominee New Hui Fen will be hoping to keep the trophy within keglers' hands after team-mate Shayna Ng's win last year. The bowler was among four finalists named, alongside paddler Feng Tianwei, silat exponent Nurul Suhaila Mohd Saiful and shooter Jasmine Ser.

Said New, 24: "This is one of the highest forms of recognition in Singapore... I'm thankful that it has reflected all the hard work I've put in over the last few years.

"Awards like these inspire young people to take up sport and compete, and lets them know that hard work pays off because there are people who acknowledge the efforts.

"It's a positive cycle. You work hard, you get recognised for it, and others get inspired."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2017, with the headline 'Top sports award for Reese'. Print Edition | Subscribe