Look beyond the SEA

Look beyond the SEA
Singapore Sports School principal Irwin Seet on the SEA Games

Since it was founded in 2004, athletes from the Singapore Sports School (SSP) have combined for an impressive 98 medals - 46 golds, 27 silvers and 25 bronzes - in five editions of the South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

With 102 past and present students competing at next month's Games, the Woodlands-based institution is set to play a big role in Team Singapore's bid for regional glory again.

The likes of swimmer Tao Li, sprinter Shanti Pereira and paddler Isabelle Li - all SSP alumnae - are just some of the country's medal hopefuls when Singapore hosts the meet for the first time since 1993.

While SSP principal Tan Teck Hock believes success at the SEA Games is proof that the school is on the right path, he insists it should also serve as motivation for their students to aim for bigger and better things.

"When you look back at the establishment of the school in 2004, there were quite a number of detractors and doubters," he told the New Paper in an interview yesterday. "Today, with just over 100 past and present student-athletes set to participate at the coming Games, it's an affirmation of how much the Singapore Sports School has contributed to Team Singapore.


"We've definitely validated the faith that the government and public put in us in developing those with the talent, ambition and motivation to compete in sports at the highest level.

"But what the school really hopes for is to ultimately have an athlete performing on the world stage.

"Every little success allows us to push the boundary a little further and reminds us that we're on the right path, but it's not just about the SEA Games, Asian Games or Commonwealth Games, for that matter.

"We want to reach the highest possible level and, one day, we hope to see one of our own standing on the podium at the Olympic Games."

As Singapore prepares to host the Games, organisers have launched a series of initiatives and campaigns to ensure there will be no shortage of home support.

Nonetheless, Tan revealed that all SSP students will also be present at the various events to cheer on their former and current schoolmates, and hopes the next generation will be inspired by the current crop of stars.

"It is significant for every student to see what their seniors are doing and achieving and to have that etched in their memories," he explained.

"We remind them that these athletes were also once like them - small, young kids coming through our doors - and it serves as a constant reminder what they must aim towards.

"Success breeds more success and for the students to watch their seniors become champions helps to build a culture and create a mindset that is crucial for young athletes.

"Every new cohort of students should always be looking to break barriers and better previous generations; that's what defines us as an institution."


Next month's SEA Games will have extra significance, given that it also coincides with Singapore celebrating 50 years of independence.

Given how far the Republic has progressed as a nation, Tan believes the Games provides an excellent opportunity to showcase how much the sporting scene has developed as well.

"Having the SEA Games here in Singapore is just one of the many ways we'll celebrate SG50 this year," he added.

"We want to be part of these celebrations and are happy to contribute in any small way we can to the significance of the Games being held here.

"With the golden jubilee symbolising Singapore's coming of age, we want to show that it's not just about economic success or having one of the best education systems in the world.

"It's also about finding all the different pockets that define success, and I believe sporting achievement is one of them."

This article was first published on May 16, 2015.
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