SINGAPORE — With debutants contributing significantly to the medal haul, Team Singapore contingent leaders believe the future is looking bright for the city-state's athletes at the SEA Games.
As the 31st edition of the biennial meet begins to wind down to its closing ceremony on Monday (23 May), the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) said in a media release on Sunday that debuting athletes - 245 of them in the 424-strong contingent - contributed 61 out of the 166 medals won by Singapore.
Some of the top first-time Games participants include 14-year-old fencer Elle Koh, who won two golds in the women's epee division; breaststroke specialist swimmer Letitia Sim, winner of three golds, one silver and one bronze; and xiangqi (Chinese chess) player Alvin Woo, who clinched Singapore's first gold in the debuting sport.
With Singapore being announced as the hosts for the 2029 SEA Games, SNOC said in its media release that the bright athlete performances in Hanoi presents a "tremendous opportunity" for Team Singapore to improve upon its previous home Games showing in 2015, when it won 84 golds, 73 silvers and 102 bronzes.
“Team Singapore’s performance in Hanoi bodes well for their preparations for the Commonwealth Games and puts them in good stead for the upcoming Asian Games and next year’s SEA Games," said SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan.
"Come 2029, Singapore will host the SEA Games for the fifth time... We certainly hope Team Singapore is able to continue to represent the best of the Singapore Spirit and inspire us through the journey.”
Five Games records, 12 national records set
Besides earning 47 gold, 46 silver and 73 bronze medals at the Games, Team Singapore athletes also set five Games records, 12 national records and 34 personal-best marks along the way.
SNOC lauded the teams from swimming (21 golds, 11 silvers, 12 bronzes), bowling (three golds, one silver, three bronzes), fencing (six golds, four silvers, five bronzes) and silat (four golds, three silvers, four bronzes) as being the best-performing sports for Team Singapore at the Games.
There was praise for Quah Jing Wen, who was the best individual performer with six gold medals, and 18-year-old teammate Gan Ching Hwee who claimed five golds.
SNOC also singled out the athletics team for making a significant turnaround from the 2019 SEA Games to earn one gold, three silvers and seven bronze, on top of the five national records and eight personal-best performances.
"This is the sport’s best performance since 1993, reflecting a well-prepared campaign," SNOC said.
It added that the wushu, jujitsu and shooting teams have also met expectations, while athletes from diving, artistic gymnastics and taekwondo continue to show signs of growth to perform up to par at the regional level.
Chef de mission S. Sinnathurai praised the athletes for performing to their best abilities even as they tried to adapt to health and safety protocols adopted by Team Singapore amid Southeast Asia's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our athletes displayed a very strong spirit competing against the best in the region, they showed grit and resilience amidst the conditions set upon them in a recovering pandemic environment," he said.
"Overall, I couldn’t be prouder and I’m very thankful for everyone’s contribution in our successful campaign here in Hanoi.