Singapore Sports Scene

Discussion in 'Chit-Chat' started by Loh, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Swimming: Gary Tan appointed new S'pore head coach, vows to build core group of swimmers
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    Gary Tan was part of the backroom staff that helped Singapore swimmers capture 42 gold medals at the 2017 and 2019 SEA Games. PHOTO: SINGAPORE SWIMMING ASSOCIATION
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    David Lee

    PUBLISHED
    DEC 23, 2021, 12:09 PM SGT

    SINGAPORE - After overseeing the National Training Centre for five years, Gary Tan will make the step up to become the national swimming head coach until the end of the Paris Olympics in Aug 2024.

    In its bid to make the Republic “a world class aquatic nation”, Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) president Lee Kok Choy said the governing body conducted a comprehensive search, which yielded 26 applicants worldwide including coaches of top Olympians in Europe and Australia, before settling on Tan.

    Tan, 39 and a former national swimmer, was part of the backroom staff that helped Singapore swimmers capture 42 gold medals at the 2017 and 2019 SEA Games.

    The squad also achieved their best result at the Asian Games with two golds, one silver and three bronzes in 2018, when he was also named Coach of the Year at the Singapore Sports Awards.

    Lee said: “Gary impressed us the most and displayed he has gained the expertise after working under (former national coaches) Sergio Lopez and Stephan Widmer in the last seven years.

    “We believe that Gary is the best fit amongst all the candidates to influence the NTC and affiliate clubs, to mentor local coaches, to continue to bring forth world class expertise through his connection with leading experts in the world, to adapt and relate to the local swimming ecosystem of athletes, coaches, and clubs.

    “We hope his appointment will inspire more local coaches to take up coaching as a profession and follow his pathway to be a world-class high-performance coach here.”

    Tan will continue to act as NTC head coach until a replacement is found.

    The last local to head the coaching set-up was Ang Peng Siong from 2009 to 2012.

    With the SEA, Asian and Commonwealth Games coming up, Lee’s target for Tan is to retain Singapore’s position as the top swimming nation in Asean, and for all participating swimmers to record personal bests at these meets.

    The national head coach position had been vacant since October after the SSA and Widmer mutually terminated his contract in October.

    The Australian, who was also SSA's performance director, had gone on overseas leave before the Tokyo Olympics opened on July 23 and did not return after his leave period expired in October.

    He had also appeared in a promotional video published by China-based LJ Swimming Club that claimed he had joined the Beijing-based outfit in August when his contract was to run till Dec 31.

    Singapore swimmers had a disappointing campaign in Tokyo, with Olympic champion Schooling failing to retain his 100m butterfly gold, while Quah Ting Wen and her brother Zheng Wen did not advance out of their respective heats.

    However, after the 9th Singapore National Swimming Championships (SNSC) in November, Tan said the arrival of Hungarian Alex Mordvincev, Brazilian Gustavo Schirru and former national swimmer Lionel Khoo as NTC assistant coaches since August has contributed to a "feel-good environment" again as 20 national records were broken at the short-course meet.

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    Swimming: National squad eager to 'write a new chapter' after tough few months, says head coach
    Swimming: Incoming S'pore head coach will have new role in high performance structure

    Tan added he is "living my dream to be able to lead the development of swimming in my home country", and noted the aim is to "achieve sustained podium success at Asian, Olympic and World Championships, through good and sustainable investment in the development of our clubs, athletes and coaches".

    He acknowledged the challenges from Covid-19, National Service and juggling of sports and studies, and will work on building a system to retain talents.

    He also said that there are ongoing discussions to work out a programme for NS enlistee Quah Zheng Wen to be able to train, and the same would be done for Rio 2016 champion Joseph Schooling, who is set to enlist in January, if he wishes to continue competing.

    Tan said: "Knowing the local landscape and struggles that clubs and swim school businesses face during this period, I will reach out to all our affiliates to address their issues and provide adequate help."The success of clubs and swim schools is crucial as they are the backbone of our system and provide the talent pipeline for the national team."We will need to rebuild a core group of swimmers through a system-based approach in both the clubs and the NTC, giving our swimmers access to an elite training in environment on a daily basis."
     
  2. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    4 Singapore athletes to be honoured with open-top bus parade
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    Clockwise from top left: Yip Pin Xiu, Loh Kean Yew, Aloysius Yapp and Shayna Ng. (File photos: Facebook/Edwin Tong, SportSG; AFP/Jose Jordan; Aloysius Yapp; Facebook/Edwin Tong, Singapore Bowling Federation)
    Published December 24, 2021
    Updated December 24, 2021

    SINGAPORE — Four Singapore athletes who made their mark in 2021 will be honoured with an open-top bus parade on Sunday (Dec 26).

    The four athletes are Aloysius Yapp, Loh Kean Yew, Shayna Ng and Yip Pin Xiu.

    "Four athletes have done extraordinarily well this year, by coming in top positions at global competitions in their respective sport," said Sport Singapore (SportSG) on Friday.

    Members of the public who are in town can expect to catch a glimpse of the champions on an open-top bus on Sunday afternoon, which will be held in the city area between 1pm and 3pm.

    "In view of the Covid-19 situation, specific locations and route details will not be shared prior to the parade to avoid congregation," said SportSG. There will also be no pit stops in between.

    The parade is held in recognition of their achievements and to "celebrate their successes with fellow Singaporeans", it added.

    READ ALSO
    A 10-year dream: Former teammate, coach recount Loh Kean Yew’s determination to become world’s best


    Aloysius Yapp was the first Singaporean to reach world number 1 in the World Pool-Billiard Association rankings.

    Loh Kean Yew, who won a gold medal at the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championships, was the first Singaporean to clinch the prestigious world title.

    Shayna Ng won a gold medal at the women's singles event at the International Bowling Federation Super World Championships in November, defeating compatriot Cherie Tan in the final.

    Yip Pin Xiu added to her Paralympic haul with two gold medals at the Tokyo Games in September, taking her total to five gold and one silver, dating back to the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

    The parade is held by the Singapore Sport Institute, in collaboration with Cuesports Singapore, Singapore Badminton Association, Singapore Bowling Federation and the Singapore Disability Sports Council.

    In a Facebook post on Friday, Team Singapore (Team SG) reminded members of the public not to gather in crowds and to maintain safe distancing.

    READ ALSO
    Mediacorp to air encore of Loh Kean Yew’s historic badminton world championship win on Dec 25


    "As the year comes to an end, we would like to celebrate our national athletes’ achievement with Singaporeans, and thank everyone for your support as One Team Singapore," said Team SG. CNA

    For more stories like this, visit cna.asia.
     
  3. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Athletics: Teen sprinter Louis granted NS deferment as he chases national record, SEA Games success in 2022
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    National sprinter Marc Brian Louis has been granted short-term deferment from NS to train and prepare for the SEA Games. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
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    Sazali Abdul Aziz
    Correspondent

    PUBLISHED
    DEC 24, 2021, 12:35 PM SGT

    SINGAPORE - As 2022 approaches, sprinter Marc Brian Louis has set himself a goal of claiming the national 100m record at the SEA Games in Hanoi in May – which would put him in contention to win a first gold medal for Singapore in the event.

    And as he plots to take down U.K. Shyam’s 10.37-second mark, the 19-year-old on Friday (Dec 24) received a boost after he was granted short-term deferment from national service (NS) to train and prepare for the biennial regional meet.

    He was due to enlist on Jan 3, but Singapore Athletics (SA) president Lien Choong Luen told The Straits Times that on the back of his scintillating 10.39sec run on Dec 12, it sought a second short-term deferment for him. His first was to compete in the World Youth Championships in Nairobi in August.

    Lien received a positive response from the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) on Friday. He said: “The fact the deferment was approved speaks to Marc’s performance and potential. His results speak for themselves, and without them we would not even have had a conversation about NS.

    “We are also very grateful to Sport Singapore, the Singapore Sport Institute and Mindef for agreeing to the appeal (for deferment), and we’re all very excited about what Marc can do in major Games in 2022.”

    Aside from the SEA Games, 2022 will also feature the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July and Asian Games in Hangzhou in September, although the qualification marks for those meets are 10.24sec and 10.19sec, respectively.

    Said Louis: “I’m shocked and very happy I can continue training regularly ahead of the SEA Games.

    “For the past few months, I haven’t trained at the (higher) intensity I do when I work toward a major competition because I was expecting to enlist.

    “With this news, I can hopefully improve a little bit more. I’m really grateful to Mindef, because the first deferment helped me set a new U-20 national record (in Kenya), and I hope to make the most of this second one too.”

    Lien, the general manager of ride-hailing firm Gojek, added that Louis possesses a “very positive work ethic and attitude” which would help him as he hopes to reach his full potential in the years to come.

    Local sprint icon C. Kunalan shares Lien’s enthusiasm for Louis’ potential.

    The 79-year-old said he had encountered Louis at a recent training session for the national relay team, and felt the youngster had the “right maturity” to make good progress.

    “He still has a very young body and has not started serious strength work,” added Kunalan, who held the 100m record of 10.38sec for 33 years from 1968 until Shyam bettered it.

    “There’s so much potential that can be developed when his coach puts him into the next phase of training.

    “At this age, clocking even 10.5sec would be special. And he’s already done 10.39.”

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    Athletics: Marc Brian Louis breaks U-20 100m record; 0.02sec off senior mark
    Athletics: Teen sprinter Marc Brian Louis wants to be fastest Singapore man in 100m

    In the long-term, Louis and his coach, Benber Yu, are aiming for him to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics – a tall ask given the qualification standard for the 2020 Tokyo Games was 10.05sec.

    But Yu is undeterred, adding: “Give Marc time. He’s only 19 now and we are training six times a week, with strength and conditioning twice a week, but I would still say it is still at a casual level.”

    In addition to ramping up training intensity and frequency, Yu said that fine details such as rest and recovery, a tailored diet, leveraging on sports science and even working with a sports psychologist, will also matter.

    While Louis has had a taste of some of these through the National Youth Sports Institute, Yu said that “there’s still so much to do, and they must all combine”.

    Lien also pledged SA would explore opportunities to give Louis overseas exposure, either through competitions or extended training stints.

    “But this has to be tailored and co-created with both the athlete and the coach, and not something we unilaterally decide,” he stressed.

    “We may have our aspirations for them but ultimately it’s for them to want… and it also depends on which receiving parties have something to offer. What is clear is that we want to do this together, and do more.”
     
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  4. extremenanopowe

    extremenanopowe Regular Member

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  5. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    4 local athletes who conquered the world in 2021 honoured in bus parade

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    (From left) Loh Kean Yew, Aloysius Yapp, Shayna Ng and Yip Pin Xiu aboard the open-top bus.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
    Sazali Abdul Aziz, Kimberly Kwek and Deepanraj Ganesan
    Dec 26, 2021 03:09 p
      • The click of cameras, flare of flashbulbs and punctuated instructions of photographers pierced the stillness and silence outside the OCBC Arena on Sunday afternoon (Dec 26).

    Four of Singapore's top athletes had gathered to set off on a celebratory parade aboard an open-top bus, which took them from the Sports Hub through the city area and back.

    The four are world badminton champion Loh Kean Yew, Tokyo Paralympics double gold medal swimmer Yip Pin Xiu, world bowling champion Shayna Ng, and pool player Aloysius Yapp who became the first Singaporean to be ranked world No.1 in his sport.

    The bus set off just past 1pm and the journey ended at 3pm.

    Before he boarded, Loh, wearing a broad smile, said he was thrilled when he learnt about the planned celebratory parade.

    "I'm quite surprised and very honoured," said the 24-year old. "This is my first time going on a bus tour without a roof on."

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    TEAM SINGAPORE
    Loh’s victory stirs memories of the great Wong Peng Soon
    Dec 25, 2021
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    Loh claimed the biggest milestone in his sporting career on Dec 19 when he beat former world No.1 Srikanth Kidambi of India 21-15, 22-20 in the final of the World Championships in Huelva, Spain.

    Asked how life has changed for him since returning to Singapore two days after his win, he laughed and quipped: "I haven't had much time thinking about life!

    "I've just been meeting friends… and replying to messages. A lot (of messages)."

    The celebratory parade was arranged by the Singapore Sport Institute, in collaboration with Cuesports Singapore, Singapore Badminton Association, Singapore Bowling Federation and Singapore Disability Sports Council to recognise the athletes' achievements.

    It was also meant as a way for Singaporeans to celebrate their success.

    In view of the Covid-19 situation, however, organisers opted not to share specific locations and route details so as to avoid congregation, stating only that the parade would take place in the city area. It also meant there were no stops in between.

    [​IMG]
     

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  6. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Duplicate
     
    #566 Loh, Dec 26, 2021
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2021
  7. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore eliminated from AFF Suzuki Cup after 3 red cards, penalty miss in extra-time loss to Indonesia in semis

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    Singapore's Safuwan Baharudin is sent off during his side's AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 semi-final second leg match against Indonesia at the National Stadium in Singapore on Dec 25, 2021.

    Published December 25, 2021
    Updated December 26, 2021

    SINGAPORE — On the pitch at the National Stadium on Saturday (Dec 25), they fought like Lions.

    Backs against the wall, in the face of several questionable refereeing decisions, they stared into the abyss of a loss.

    Yet they battled, clearing shots off the line, defending stoutly, throwing bodies around.

    And then came heartbreak in extra-time for Singapore, courtesy of two Indonesian goals.

    Tatsuma Yoshida’s side were eliminated from the AFF Suzuki Cup on Saturday (Dec 25) after a 4-2 loss to Indonesia in the second leg of their semi-final.

    Extra-time strikes from Irfan Jaya and Egy Maulana Vikri gave the away side a 5-3 aggregate victory and ensured that the search for the Lions’ first Suzuki Cup title since 2012 would go on.

    The Lions’ first leg match on Wednesday ended 1-1 as an Ikhsan Fandi equaliser pegged back the Indonesians.

    However, with Yoshida making several changes, Ikhsan started the game on the bench for a different-looking Singapore side for the second leg.

    In his place was Geylang International striker Amy Recha, making his first Singapore start. Faris Ramli was also dropped to the bench, with Hafiz Nor starting for the Lions.

    It was the Indonesians who took the lead in the 11th minute, as a Hassan Sunny pass was intercepted by Witan. He brushed off two defenders and found Ezra Walian for the opener.

    Four minutes later, they almost doubled their lead but Pratama Rifai could only curl his effort over.

    Singapore struggled to find their foot in the game, with a series of misplaced passes handing the momentum to the ever-pressing Indonesia team on a number of occasions.

    The Lions’ best chance came courtesy of a lung-busting run from Song-Ui young, who found Hafiz Nor, but his shot was parried wide.

    Amy Recha then looked to have been brought down in the box when he was about to latch onto the rebound but vehement appeals from Singapore were waved away.

    Then came a flashpoint. Defender Safuwan Baharudin, who was flashed a soft yellow card earlier by referee Qasim Matar Ali Al Hatmi, was booked again and sent off after a tussle in the box before a corner kick was taken.

    But the Lions held their nerve and drew level, with Song firing home in added time to the delight of the Singapore fans.

    [​IMG]
    Singapore's Song Ui-young celebrates after scoring during his side's AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 semi-final second leg match against Indonesia at the National Stadium in Singapore on Dec 25, 2021.

    Indonesia piled on the pressure in the second half, and had a shot rebound off the bar in the 59th minute.

    Yoshida threw caution to the wind with a triple substitution, bringing on Ikhsan, Faris and Shawal Anuar.

    And it was Shawal who almost made an instant impact a minute after coming on but his dipping shot drifted just wide.

    Defender Irfan Fandi received his marching orders in the 67th minute, after he hauled down Irfan Jaya as he ran towards goal. The referee deemed the Singapore defender to have denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.

    Shortly after, Singapore midfielder Shahdan thought he had turned game winner as he curled a gorgeous free kick past the Indonesian keeper to put Singapore ahead.

    But Indonesia were not done yet, and they grabbed an equaliser with four minutes to spare, courtesy of Pratama Arhan.

    With the game on the line, Faris had the chance to seal a famous win, but his penalty was pushed away by Indonesian keeper Nadeo Winata.

    Then came the clincher for the Indonesians with just a minute played in extra time. As Irfan Jaya tried to force the ball across the line, it rebounded off Shawal into goal.

    Indonesia almost extended their lead on several occasions, if not for the excellent work of Singapore’s Hassan Sunny.

    Substitute Egy then doubled the Indonesians’ lead just before the first half of extra-time to seal the victory.

    Hassan received his marching orders with time ticking down as the Lions went down to eight men.

    Despite the loss, the crowd’s appreciation for the crestfallen team at the full-time whistle said it all.

    Singapore may have fallen to a defeat, but on a pulsating Christmas night at the National Stadium, they roared. CNA
     
    #567 Loh, Dec 26, 2021
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2021
  8. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Commentary: 3 ways to build Singapore’s 2021 sporting highs into sustained success

    [​IMG]Raj Nadarajan/TODAY
    Singapore badminton world champion Loh Kean Yew arriving at Changi Airport on Dec 21, 2021.

    BY NICHOLAS FANG
    Published January 7, 2022
    Updated January 7, 2022

    The year 2021 was something of a purple patch for Singapore sports.

    Despite being the second year of the pandemic, Singaporean athletes across a broad range of events served up exciting performances and superlative results on the global stage.

    These included our Olympians and Paralympians in Tokyo who competed in a significant number of different sports, young cyclists stepping up to the professional ranks in Australia, excellence in cue sports, world champions in badminton and bowling, and a resurgence in football.

    The Olympics alone showcased the strength in breadth of our athletes, with 23 athletes competing in a record 12 sports, including first-time appearances in equestrian, marathon swimming and diving events.

    Swimmer Yip Pin Xiu also flew our flag high at the Paralympics, winning her fourth and fifth gold medals in a campaign that dates back to 2008.

    We then saw Aloysius Yapp becoming world number one pool player, Shayna Ng clinching gold at the International Bowling Federation Super World Championship, and of course the much-heralded World Championships win by shuttler Loh Kean Yew.

    READ ALSO
    Sports vs NS — a zero sum game or possible win-win?


    The year ended with a solid Suzuki Cup run by the Lions, who made the semi-finals for the first time since 2012 with some gutsy and gritty displays.

    This united footballing fans and the general public alike, who have been justifiably critical of the lack of success by the team over the years.

    Looking at all the results by Team Singapore in 2021, it is important to remember these were achieved against the backdrop of Covid-19, which severely curtailed training and competition opportunities at home and abroad, and created a general atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

    Even more heartening was the fact that the athletes who excelled were from both genders and spanned a range of age groups and demographics, demonstrating that we are no longer dependent on a few powerhouse sports to deliver reasons to cheer.

    Before we consider how we can build on these strong results, it is worthwhile to examine some of the possible reasons behind such successes.

    YEARS IN THE MAKING

    READ ALSO
    Tokyo Paralympics: Yip Pin Xiu wins gold in women’s 50m backstroke S2


    Not many of us pay close attention to the process of sports development that takes place at the national level.

    But one area worth tracking is funding, given how financial support is integral to many aspects of developing elite sports.

    In Singapore, government support plays a major role, lacking as we do a robust sports industry that features strong corporate and commercial funding from the private sector.

    The Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth manages the budget for sports at various levels in the country, and funds are disbursed and monitored by Sport Singapore (SportSG) to the national sports associations (NSAs) which then manage their individual programmes and initiatives.

    In 2012, S$62.5 million was disbursed to some 30 NSAs.

    Figures from 2020 show that some S$70 million is now spent each year on the High Performance Sports system to support the development of national athletes and NSAs, as well as invest in new and existing public sports infrastructure.

    READ ALSO
    Loh Kean Yew becomes first Singaporean to win World Championship men's singles title
     
    #568 Loh, Jan 8, 2022
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2022
  9. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    The exact budgets for individual sports are rarely disclosed officially.

    Personally, I have seen the budget for fencing grow from around S$100,000 a year when I first entered the national team in the mid 1990s, to over S$500,000 when I retired in 2009, and subsequently to over S$1 million when I was president of the national federation.

    These increases, while unspectacular, at least show steadily growing support for sports in the form of hard cash.

    A portion of this goes to athletes who have been identified as having the results or the potential to excel, and the quantum ranges from a few hundred dollars a month for those at the lowest tier, to thousands for those who have won Olympic medals.

    Loh Kean Yew for example was awarded the Sports Excellence Scholarship in 2019, after he knocked out China’s Olympic champion Lin Dan at the Thailand open in January of that year.

    The support he receives will surely go up following his world championship win.

    READ ALSO
    Singapore eliminated from AFF Suzuki Cup after 3 red cards, penalty miss in extra-time loss to Indonesia in semis


    More important than cash has been the discipline imposed by national sports regulator SportSG, which in 2009 introduced multi-year planning requirements for NSAs as a part of efforts to improve capabilities in the associations.

    This was aimed at incentivising the federations to plan long-term to ensure the sustainable development of sporting talent that typically does not happen overnight.

    There have been other significant initiatives that have impacted the local sports scene in positive ways, such as the launching of the Singapore Sports School in 2004, which offered a pathway for young budding sports talents to train and manage their academic lives at the same time.

    And then there were the individual milestones, such as Joseph Schooling’s landmark gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in 2016, which inspired many athletes to dream big and aim higher than they might have in the past.

    While difficult to quantify, I believe that these different factors have led to increased support for sports and sportspeople from a range of stakeholders, ranging from the Ministry of Defence, to corporates, and even friends and families of athletes.

    This in turn provides important encouragement to athletes themselves to pursue their sporting goals with greater confidence and purpose.

    For example, national kayakers Soh Sze Ying and Brandon Ooi last year relocated to Budapest in Hungary to be closer to world-class training partners and competitions, while also pursuing secondary academic degrees.

    They are aiming to do well in the Asian Games this year, and to improve their world rankings.

    WHERE TO FROM HERE?

    All things considered, things are looking up for Singapore sports, and 2022 is set to be another big year, with the Southeast Asian, Asian and Commonwealth Games taking place.

    There are three areas we can consider if we want to continue the momentum that has been gradually building up in our journey towards becoming a true sporting nation.

    First, stakeholders in our sporting ecosystem, including the Government, media and private sector, should continue to build on the positive sentiments and growing appreciation for sports by the Singaporean public by celebrating the triumphs of our athletes such as the Lions and Loh Kean Yew, and profiling them more broadly so they can continue to inspire, entertain and unite the country.

    At the same time, I hope that the general public and sports fans alike can continue to develop a deeper appreciation of sports and athletes, so that we don’t just celebrate triumphs but also follow individual sporting journeys including the ups, downs, bumps and bruises.

    This can be done by consuming sports content more widely and also delving deeper into different aspects to better understand what goes into sporting success.

    We will then be able to fully appreciate and subsequently enjoy following the trials, tribulations and triumphs of our athletes and teams.

    Lastly, we need to see a multi-stakeholder approach to developing sports.

    Currently, the focus on sports is limited mainly to governmental support, and there is a need to harness support and resources from both the public and private sector in a more significant way, while also building sustained support from citizens as a whole.

    Driven by the Government and sporting authorities, such an approach should take into consideration various public sector organs and agencies, private sector operators, infrastructure providers such as the Singapore Sports Hub, and the people sector which comprises fans and spectators, and of course the athletes themselves.

    By uniting these various entities behind a common goal — to deliver broad-based success across the sporting landscape — we may be able to overcome the shortcomings and challenges facing a small country with a limited population that lacks a deep and mature sports culture.

    In 2021, we got a taste of what a great sporting year can look like for Singapore. Here’s hoping we see more of the same in 2022, and many years to come.


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Nicholas Fang, a former national athlete and sports administrator, was a Nominated Member of Parliament and Team Singapore’s chef-de-mission at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games. He co-founded sports consultancy Novastella and is a non-executive independent director of the Singapore Sports Hub.
     
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  10. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Table tennis: Four young players promoted to Singapore national team
    [​IMG]
    (From left) Izaac Quek and Lucas Tan will join the men's team while Zhou Jingyi and Ser Lin Qian have been recruited for the women. PHOTOS: STTA

    Deepanraj Ganesan

    PUBLISHED
    JAN 13, 2022, 7:35 PM SGT

    SINGAPORE - As part of its renewal process and commitment to nurture a new generation of paddlers, the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) on Thursday (Jan 13) announced the promotion of four players from its intermediate squad to the national team.

    Izaac Quek, 15, and 22-year-old Lucas Tan will join the men's team while Zhou Jingyi, 16, and Ser Lin Qian, 15, have been recruited for the women.

    STTA president Ellen Lee said: "Today, we have introduced a fresh generation of young players into our national team and STTA will continue to give the best support to our young talents, as we build the next generation of Team Singapore.

    "We seek the continuous support from our various stakeholders, sponsors, parents, fans and volunteers. Let us all do our part to support the athletes. Together, we can make a greater impact that will eventually see more Singaporeans on the world stage."

    Quek's inclusion in the senior side has been widely expected ever since the Singapore Sports School student-athlete in April last year became the first local to top the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Under-15 boys' world ranking.

    The teenager's foundation was built at the STTA's Bishan Zone Training Centre, which he joined when he was seven. He subsequently moved up the association's junior development squad and youth training squad ranks, before he was promoted to the intermediate squad in 2020.

    Quek said: "It is my dream to be a member of the national team since young. I am honoured to serve Singapore in this new capacity. STTA's confidence in my abilities means a great deal to me."

    He has set a New Year's resolution of qualifying for the May 12-23 SEA Games, July 28-Aug 8 Commonwealth Games or the Sept 10-25 Asian Games.

    "I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities and I promise to work hard to bring more sporting glory for Singapore," he added.

    Newly inducted women's team members Jingyi and Lin Qian will provide a timely boost to the squad as the STTA prepares for life after the eventual retirements of world No. 9 Feng Tianwei and 34th-ranked Yu Mengyu - both of whom are in their 30s .

    Feng, who is Singapore's most bemedalled Olympian with a silver and two bronze medals, and Yu - who finished a career-high fourth at the Tokyo Games - had previously said that the 2020 Olympics would be their last.

    However, the pair could still feature in the SEA, Asian and Commonwealth Games this year.

    Table tennis's new blood Jingyi and Lin Qian will be hoping to fill the void when the veterans step down eventually.

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    Both paddlers have had recent successes at junior tournaments.

    Last October, Lin Qian won the Under-15 girls' singles title at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Youth Contender Lignano in Italy.

    A month later, Jingyi won the Under-17 girls' singles at the WTT Youth Contender Szombathely, while Lin Qian finished third.

    Lin Qian is the only South-east Asian recipient of the 2021 With The Future In Mind (WFIM) scholarship, a joint programme by the Olympic Solidarity and International Table Tennis Federation which seeks to support 30 promising youth players around the world.

    She said: "I am very thankful that I am being promoted into the national team. I would like to thank STTA for recognising my hard work and believing that I am ready to take on more challenges. I appreciate the opportunity and I look forward to contributing to the women's team.''

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