Ex-national water polo captain Yeo dies at 78

Ex-national water polo captain Yeo dies at 78

Former national swimmer and Singapore water polo captain Eric Yeo died on Sunday at age 78 after suffering a stroke and heart attack in the morning.

He was part of the country's most successful water polo teams who captured a silver at the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo and bronze four years later in Jakarta.

The then-20-year-old Yeo was among the youngest members of the squad who competed in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, the first and only time that the Republic's water polo team featured at the Olympic Games.

The defender also scored one of Singapore's goals in a 5-5 draw against hosts Malaysia that clinched the gold medal at the 1965 South-east Asian Peninsular (Seap) Games, the predecessor to the SEA Games. Singapore have been champions in every edition of the biennial competition since, with Yeo also part of the victorious 1967-73 sides.

Said his national team-mate and fellow Raffles Institution student Tan Eng Bock, who retired in 1970 and handed over the captaincy to Yeo: "I've known Eric for more than 60 years and he was a very unassuming guy.

"He would always ask about updates on how our men and women's team were doing and was excited about the SEA Games here in June."

A police assistant superintendent before he was seconded to join the Singapore Bus Service, Yeo was also a talented swimmer, winning two silvers (4x100m individual medley and 4x200m freestyle relay) and a bronze (100m freestyle) at the 1961 Seap Games in Myanmar.

After retiring from water polo, Yeo coached the national team, was team manager and served as Singapore Swimming Association's (SSA) vice-president for water polo.

Said SSA president Lee Kok Choy: "Eric's passing is a loss to the swimming community as he was a highly motivated sportsman and an inspiration to many pioneering athletes around him."

After suffering a heart attack at 49, Yeo continued to lead an active life and played golf until a few years ago, said daughter Dr Lynn Yeo, 51, a senior consultant eye surgeon at Eagle Eye Centre.

"He was quite unwell for the past year and we knew he would go at some point."

Yeo is also survived by wife Siew Hong, 75, and son Paul, 47, regional director at Estee Lauder Companies.

A wake will be held at the Church of St Teresa in Kampong Bahru today and tomorrow at 8pm. The funeral mass will be on Thursday at noon and the cortege will leave at 12.45pm for Mandai Crematorium.

jonwong@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 17, 2015.
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