Singapore Sports Scene

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

  1. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Dear Joe: An open letter to Joseph Schooling
    [​IMG]
    Rohit Brijnath
    Assistant Sports Editor
    [​IMG]
    Singaporeans have been fair and supportive since Joseph Schooling admitted to consuming cannabis overseas. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

    PUBLISHED
    SEP 3, 2022, 7:59 PM SGT


    Hey Joe,

    Been a hell of a week, hasn't it?

    We're all suffering from post-cannabis fatigue, but bear with me for a few minutes.

    I have spent 36 years of my life watching athletes and how societies react to them. My favourite is the phone call from the late King Hassan II of Morocco to the legendary 1,500m runner, Hicham El Guerrouj. At the 1996 Olympics, El Guerrouj tripped, fell and wept and then was told on the phone by his king: "Don't cry my son. One day you will win the Olympic title. You are a champion in the eyes of the Moroccan people."

    This week I was struck by the reaction of Singaporeans to your misstep. Most have been fair and supportive. They may have shaken their heads but they haven't abandoned their champion.

    I thought for a while about reputation and character, how one is earned and the other forged. Both are valuable and at the end, often, it's all we have left. You have fine qualities, we know that, because some of them took you to Olympic gold. You built something meaningful and lasting and no one will forget. But that was at 21 and now you're 27 and all of us are constantly being measured in life, in our own individual arenas and outside, in what we do and who we are.

    We can't walk in your shoes but this much we know: No one is untouchable, however adored they might be. You can see it in what's happening with Phil Mickelson. One thoughtless statement about the Saudis - "They're scary ****** to get involved with" - and the US PGA Tour and everything began to unravel. Momentum in such things is hard to stop.

    Most blemishes, like yours, recede with time. Even Tiger Woods' cracked pedestal is under re-construction. As a species we're paradoxical, unendingly cruel on social media and yet ready to grant amnesty. People pardon mistakes but they're, rightly, impatient with repeat offenders. They want people to be better and you, a great swimmer, know about that.

    You are not everyone else, you need to remember that. You are loved differently and paid differently and judged differently. Ministers shake your hand, people interrupt your lunch for wefies, schools want you to speak to kids. When it gets annoying, just ask yourself if you would prefer anonymity?

    The smartest athletes, I've always found, surround themselves with honest people. Not bandwagon-climbers but reliable advisers. People who aren't interested in being your echo chamber but in candid conversation. Who can bring you down to earth when your conceit inflates.

    Rafael Nadal put it perfectly in 2009 when he told the Guardian: "It's important to have people around you with enough confidence to say if you are not acting in a good way. Normally, when you are at the top, people say everything is fantastic. Probably in that moment it is what you want to hear, but it's best to be reminded how to act properly."

    People around you might be well-meaning but still some might say, "Do this, it's OK, nobody will find out, it's no big deal" but, first, it is a big deal. Second, they are not you and will never face the same repercussions you will.

    Third, people do find out. A photo leaked of Michael Phelps and his bong. A private video surfaced of the Finnish prime minister merely dancing. There's no hiding in this intrusive world, you should know that.

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    Inside story: The smoking gun that triggered Joseph Schooling's drug confession
    Schooling admits to taking cannabis: A look back at his journey from kid to swim king

    Fourth, I feel for Amanda Lim who was found with the weed grinder because everyone is equally responsible. There's no blame here to be handed out except to the person in the mirror. We all have to live by our choices.

    Readers have written to me with great empathy about you and I think it's partly because almost all of us understand the nature of setbacks. We've lost jobs, made mistakes, chosen badly, let people down. It's called growing up.

    The setback has a use, for it often propels us in a fresh direction. You know this well because in your line of work setback often translates to defeat. When you lose, you work harder, train smarter, change your coach, alter your diet. You would do then what you need to do now: Reflect.

    Who can make you better as a man? Which direction do you want to go? Do you want to swim competitively or not? Would you like a job and if yes, in which line? This time, when talent frustratingly starts to dry and a strange, new, boring world - for which you have no real skill-set - beckons, can be confronting. And yet you're lucky, you really are.

    These days I find myself looking at news reports on TV of the flooding in Pakistan. I heard an agonising story of a man who couldn't bury a family member because there was no land to dig. There was only water. No one could help that man, but you have a nation ready to assist you. Just ask.

    You've made us think about a lot of things this week. About champions and sainthood, drugs and humanness, errors and preachiness. About why societies elevate athletes and who's there to guide them. We're all trying to learn and so, hopefully, will you.

    Rohit

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    SSA to support Schooling and Lim so they 'won't repeat their misstep'
    Schooling, Lim determined to make amends after drug consumption cases: Edwin Tong
     
  2. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    POV: Be realistic in expecting Singapore’s top athletes to be serial world-beaters
    POV: Be realistic in expecting Singapore’s top athletes to be serial world-beaters - TODAY (todayonline.com)
    [​IMG]TODAY file photo
    National shuttler Loh Kean Yew, seen here with the gold medal he won at the Badminton World Championship in December last year, and Joseph Schooling with his gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

    [​IMG]
    BY
    JUSTIN ONG
    @JustinOngTODAY
    Published September 16, 2022
    Updated September 16, 2022

    Among Singapore’s sporting successes, two feats stand out.

    One was when national swimmer Joseph Schooling clinched Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in 2016, and another when national shuttler Loh Kean Yew won Singapore’s first Badminton World Championship gold last year.

    Naturally, with such historic achievements comes expectations from the public that these athletes can replicate their success, and win multiple world titles.

    But the reality so far is that both Schooling and Loh have yet to match their career-defining achievements or even come close since then.

    The latest blow to a Schooling comeback came when he confessed to having consumed cannabis, and had all his sporting privileges revoked by the Singapore Armed Forces.

    READ ALSO
    The Big Read: Pressures and temptations aplenty in sporting world, only a rare few can scale the peak and stay there


    This saga casts a spotlight on the pressures and temptations that elite sportspeople face once they attain success and the harsh reality that these can often lead to a dip in form.

    Veteran athletes that I have spoken to say that having one major world title is already a phenomenal achievement in itself, and staying at the top is far more difficult than reaching there.

    In fact, athletes that manage to stay at the top — examples include Michael Phelps in swimming and Roger Federer in tennis — are rare. The vast majority of sportspeople do not succeed on such a regular basis, if at all.

    So while it is not wrong to hope for our top athletes to continue dominating on the world stage, we have to be realistic and understand the gravity of the task we are asking of them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think that all sportspeople should train hard and desire to win as many medals as possible.

    However, sports psychologists and athletes themselves have said Singapore’s sports culture falls short of giving our athletes the best shot at achieving replicable success.

    READ ALSO
    Schooling's drug use: Swimming great Ang Peng Siong says it shows 'how vulnerable an athlete can be', as fans express shock


    For one, there simply aren’t enough “world class” athletes here.

    This means the likes of Schooling and Loh often find themselves being the only medal hopes for Singapore at every competition, and the busy competition schedules can tire them out.

    In contrast, more established sporting nations are able to rotate a handful of medal hopefuls, allowing their star athletes to peak at major games.

    Why aren’t there enough world-class athletes here?

    Schooling’s former coach Sergio Lopez said few parents here would dare to pour all their resources into their child’s sporting dreams, as they do not believe sports is a pragmatic career.

    In a nutshell, if we want to see our elite athletes repeat their global successes, we should first think of how to groom more of them, to raise our chances.

    How do we get parents and young athletes to put their resources into sporting excellence? How do we create a competitive sporting ecosystem that can produce multiple world-class talents?

    We must first answer these questions, before we heap untenable pressures on our top athletes by expecting them to be serial world-beaters.
     
  3. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    7 world records in 7 years: Powerlifting fraternity hopes to ride on stellar showings to grow sport further
    [​IMG]Powerlifting Singapore
    Part of the Singapore powerlifting team who competed at the Southeast Asian Cup, sporting the medals they won.

    • Powerlifting athletes in Singapore clinched 26 gold medals at last week's Southeast Asian Cup, its best international showing, despite not getting any funding
    • Powerlifting Singapore, the sport's association in Singapore, said the body has plans to grow the sport's presence locally
    • This includes holding "six to seven" additional meets next year, up from just organising two annual nationals
    • Athletes and referee told TODAY that the sport's achievements are fuelled by the community's passion and willpower
    BY
    LORAINE LEE
    Published September 26, 2022
    Updated September 27, 2022

    SINGAPORE — The local powerlifting scene aims to go from strength to strength after Singapore's best international showing in the sport at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Cup last week, when 48 local competitors bagged 26 gold, seven silver and nine gold medals. They achieved the impressive haul without any outside funding.

    The powerlifting community here hopes the success at the event, where Singapore was named best overall team, will lead to funding from sponsors. They aim to further expand the sport's presence here, just a decade after it first appeared in Singapore, with a busy schedule of domestic competitions.

    Powerlifting Singapore, the sport’s association, which has been recognised by the International Powerlifting Federation since 2012, told TODAY it has big plans next year, including holding six to seven local meets leading up to its annual two nationals.

    The body also hopes to grow a pool of talent involved in its technical team, and is seeking volunteers to be referees.

    Powerlifting athletes and referees told TODAY that they are proud of how the sport has grown since 2012 in numbers and strength — having broken world records seven times since 2015.And for most, the growing number of women lifting weights is a source of pride.

    READ ALSO
    S'pore powerlifter Farhanna Farid breaks own U-52kg world record at Southeast Asian Cup


    Ms Saudi Tan, 42, a strength and fitness coach, recalled how she started powerlifting in 2015, which helped her to reignite her competitive spirit. She was one of the seven women representing Singapore at the SEA Cup last week.

    The former national rugby athlete had to retire from sports when she was unable to commit to rugby training after a career switch. Craving the adrenaline rush of competing in a sport, a friend introduced her to powerlifting.

    “Powerlifting is a sport where you have a lot of flexibility in deciding when you want to train. It’s also a sport where you could do it forever if you wanted to, since there are masters one to masters four to compete in,” she said.

    The International Powerlifting Federation has multiple age categories for competition. Masters one is for those aged 40 to 49, while masters four is for those above 70.

    “I could even compete when I’m 80,” Ms Tan said, laughing.

    Powerlifting is a sport where you have a lot of flexibility in deciding when you want to train. It’s also a sport where you could do it forever if you wanted to...I could even compete when I’m 80.
    Ms Saudi Tan, 42

    When Ms Tan competed in her first competition in 2015, she recalled there were fewer than 20 women participating. Despite the small numbers, Ms Tan said the experience hooked her to the sport.

    READ ALSO
    National powerlifter overcomes fatigue from F&B work, calluses and illness to eye a 7th gold medal in the sport


    “It was intriguing watching these small-sized ladies carrying these heavy weights,” she said.

    “I’m an advocate for women in sports. But not just that, seeing those who are in their 40s being able to excel in a sport is also amazing.” Twelve of the 48 athletes at the SEA Cup representing Singapore were aged 40 and above, including Ms Tan.

    Mr Dylan Soh also joined the sport in 2015, after watching social media posts of feats by powerlifters around the world. While he wanted to be both a lifter and a referee, he found refereeing for powerlifting meets to be an interesting experience.

    “It allows me to live vicariously through our lifters and athletes, and I am a strength and conditioning coach and sport science nerd by profession,” said the 34-year-old, who is the founder and head coach of Peak Training Lab. He is also a strength and conditioning coach at the Singapore Sport Institute.

    Powerlifting may look like the Olympic sport of weightlifting, but it has its own very specific set of rules.

    For example, athletes must bend their knees at a certain angle for it to be counted as a back squat, and referees will give lifters the command to press during a benchpress only when the bar is motionless while lowered to the lifter’s chest. The rules are set in a 37-page handbook used by referees such as Mr Soh.

    READ ALSO
    Getting the private sector to play a bigger role in funding sporting success
     
  4. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Mr Soh, who was the former technical director of Powerlifting Singapore, said that having organised invitationals in Singapore, holding competitions here is motivation for both lifters and organisers in knowing they have the capability to achieve much, and improve more.

    “The number of lifters involved in the sport has grown massively, and so did the weights on the bar increase with the bigger talent pool that we are now seeing,” he said.

    “The passion from old-timers in the sport is contagious, and when you have a bigger pool of passionate people, things can happen.”

    Powerlifting Singapore general secretary Daphne Loo said demand for local competition slots has grown tremendously since the group’s founding in 2012.

    At the first competition in 2012, only 12 athletes signed up. Today, we register 160 competition slots within approximately 40 minutes for our national championships.
    Powerlifting Singapore general secretary Daphne Loo

    “At the first competition in 2012, only 12 athletes signed up. Today, we register 160 competition slots within approximately 40 minutes for our national championships,” she said.

    SEA CUP SUCCESS TESTAMENT TO SPORT'S GROWTH: POWERLIFTING SINGAPORE
    The number of athletes heading for competitions overseas has also increased. Singapore has typically sent between one and three athletes, but boasted 48 competitors at the SEA Cup.

    However, one factor is that the SEA Cup was held in Johor Bahru, Malaysia — this meant costs were much lower than flying to other international games. And as there is no funding, athletes, the technical team and other volunteers have to cover their own costs.

    Ms Tan said that while she spent about S$1,000 to compete at the SEA Cup, including accommodation and transport, this would not cover the cost to take a plane to North America, Europe, Australia or New Zealand, where past competitions have been held.

    Powerlifting Singapore president Clinton Lee said that the SEA Cup was a testament to the sport’s growth, which he hopes will spell increased recognition locally.

    “It wasn’t just the athletes. We had coaches, the technical team, media crew and even medical staff who volunteered to help our athletes during the competition… It was so organised like we are a legitimate national team,” he said.

    “Back when I had first competed overseas, it felt very lonely competing on my own. But now, we have achieved Best Nation, everyone was there to support each other in the community and this is a big breakthrough, proving a point that powerlifting is a sport worthy of support.”

    But what is the secret to Singapore's powerlifting athletes’ international acclaim? They say it's the growing passion and willpower of everyone in the community.

    “Sometimes I wonder what the younger (athletes) are eating because they break junior records left and right,” joked Mr Lee.

    “But really, there is no secret. It’s willpower and just the community’s growth, where standards are constantly rising, you have a growing pool of coaches who are very competitive against each other and access to more information about how to improve yourself in the sport.”

    Mr Lee added that being able to compete overseas and watch international athletes in their element also sparks his competitive spirit to constantly improve.

    WHAT'S NEXT FOR POWERLIFTING?
    Powerlifting Singapore said it hopes increased recognition would mean getting funding from sponsors, allowing them to hold more competitions and send athletes overseas to compete more often on the world stage.

    There has been some confusion over the National Sports Association (NSA) status of Powerlifting Singapore, with the group being unclear of its status.

    In response to TODAY’s queries, national sports governing body Sport Singapore (SportSG) clarified that Powerlifting Singapore is an NSA, because it has been recognised by the sport’s international federation.

    It added, however, that Powerlifting Singapore has not met requirements to receive support from SportSG.

    “Only NSAs that are registered charities and (that) demonstrate the required governance threshold to receive public funding are considered for the various Sport Singapore support schemes and grants,” said SportSG.

    “This includes having a sound multi-year sport plan that is geared towards achieving goals that are aligned to the sporting objectives of Singapore.”

    NSAs that meet SportSG's requirements are able to benefit from the One Team Singapore Fund, which matches funds that NSAs raise themselves.

    This “encourages NSAs to be more resourceful in raising funds and to become more self-reliant in developing their high performance capabilities”.

    While Powerlifting Singapore is not aware of its status and funding requirements, Ms Loo said: “We are also happy to oblige with the paperwork to get that done if it means that we can finally start becoming funded.

    “That being said, we are happy to reopen discussions with Sport Singapore on how we can proceed to cement our NSA status, if they are open to granting it.”

    She said that the association’s priorities lie in “developing the sport and helping our athletes, coaches, and referees grow”.

    Its plan includes organising six or seven competitions that lead up to two national competitions next year, which will meet demand for competitions while allowing its technical team to gain more experience.

    Mr Lee added: “It’s expensive to host these competitions, and our participants' competition fees simply cover overheads. Most of our volunteers help for the love of the sport.“

    We hope to get sponsors and maybe gyms to host the competitions before holding our nationals in a more public setting.
    Powerlifting Singapore president Clinton Lee

    “We hope to get sponsors and maybe gyms to host the competitions before holding our nationals in a more public setting.”

    He also plans to further improve the sport’s structure here, such as developing more ground rules and a code of conduct so that when athletes and coaches head overseas, they will reflect well on Singapore.
     

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