Even though the football clash between Singapore and Malaysia at the new National Stadium was postponed, the Singapore Sports Hub still got a taste of the Causeway rivalry yesterday at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
On the opening day of the TYR 2nd Swimming Championships presented by Yakult, the Singapore men's water polo team (above, with white cap) showed their strength and power with a dominating performance over Malaysia, beating their neighbours 18-5 in front of a crowd of more than 500.
The water polo match was the first piece of athletic action at the Singapore Sports Hub.
Speaking to The New Paper after the win, Singapore captain Koh Jian Ying, 22, said: "We all felt very excited and very privileged to be one of the first teams to play here.
"It feels great to open the new Sports Hub with a big win like today, but there's still a lot we can improve on, and today's match was a great learning game for our younger players."
Singapore men's water polo hold one of the longest winning streaks in sport, winning gold in every edition of the biennial South-east Asia (SEA) Games since 1965.
They finished fourth at the 2012 Asian Championships and were placed second at the 3rd Asian Water Polo Cup last October.
While the margin of victory over the Malaysians suggested the hosts had an easy ride yesterday, Koh said there was some uncertainty among the team early on as they tried to get used to the new pool.
"Yeah the pool is a little colder compared to our normal pool at Toa Payoh because it's outdoors," said the skipper.
"Some of us have played overseas and this is actually around the same temperature, so we got used to that after a few minutes but, for the younger players, it's a good opportunity to learn and adapt."
Rising star Yu Jun Jie, 15, had his first taste playing for the national team.
The lanky 1.93m youngster from Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) said: "I was a bit too nervous, because this is my first game for my country and I'm used to playing only for my school, but I also feel very honoured.
"The senior players really helped me with the stress, they didn't scold me too much but advised me.
"This is my first time at the Sports Hub and it really looks great. I'm looking forward to getting the chance to train and play here."
Watching from the stands was Ian Lim, 21, who was with some of his former water polo teammates from Raffles Institution.
"The facility is amazing, I mean with how much it cost, I expected it to be top class," said Lim.
"But I think it even beats that. The sound system is good, the pool looks top quality and I'm looking forward to coming down and watching more matches played here."
This article was first published on June 15, 2014.
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