SEA Games: Can S'pore finish with the most medals for the first time?

SEA Games: Can S'pore finish with the most medals for the first time?
CEO of Sports Singapore, Mr Lim Teck Yin
PHOTO: ST

They plundered the swimming treasure trove, dominated table tennis, as usual, and expect to win both water polo events and floorball disciplines, and a whole clutch of sailing gold medals over the next few days.

Their canoeists and wushu exponents have been remarkable and their synchronised swimmers have shown great improvement.

Team Singapore have enjoyed a remarkable athletic performance at the 2015 SEA Games, they led the medal standings from the start.

With five days left, some are beginning to wonder if the hosts can finish top of the pile by the end of the competition on Tuesday.

After seeing his athletes win the men's marathon, women's 200m and the shot put, Singapore Athletics president Tang Weng Fei is optimistic the nation will witness history.

Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Tang said: "I'm quite confident we will finish in the top two. Vietnam will be breathing down our necks, but we have traditionally strong sports like bowling, sailing, silat and water polo to come."

With 66 golds in the bag by the end of last night, Singapore are all but assured of a top-three finish at the Games.

The hosts finished second in the medal standings on three occasions - 1967, 1973 and 1975 - and it is on the cards once again, or perhaps even better.

Once again, the swim team have been a gold-medal factory, contributing 23 to the cause - beating the previous record of 21, when Singapore first hosted the Games in 1973.

Said Singapore Swimming Association president Lee Kok Choy: "I hope we finish in the top three. But, whether we do or not, I think the SEA Games has had a big impact on our sporting landscape.

"The response has been amazing. I wouldn't have imagined an aquatic centre full of people paying $20 to watch synchronised swimming on a weekday, but there was a long queue even after the stands were filled.

"There are kids watching diving and synchronised swimming for the first time, and even though our divers didn't win any gold, the interest levels have been very high and I think we are going to see the rejuvenation of a number of sports."

Vietnam and Thailand are hot on the heels of the hosts with 57 and 55 golds, respectively, and will look to win more from athletics, badminton, cycling, petanque, rowing, taekwondo, tennis and volleyball - sports which Singapore are relatively weaker in.

Thailand chef de mission Thana Chaiprasit said in an earlier interview that the contingent were targeting 90 gold medals to retain top spot in the standings.

Aided by solid displays in athletics, swimming, rowing and the martial arts sports, Vietnam are also eyeing top spot, even if their pre-Games target was a modest 60 to 70 golds.

DOMINANT

Thailand have topped the overall standings in 12 out of 27 editions of the Games, while Vietnam have done it once, when they hosted the biennial event in 2003.

Singapore co-chef de mission Nicholas Fang said: "We are now reaching an unknown territory where it's hard to predict how we will finish.

"It is also a question of how well other nations are going to do in this zero-sum game, where a gold won by one country means one lost for another.

"Regardless, this will be our best SEA Games performance and to top the medal standings will be a bonus in Singapore's Golden Jubilee year.

"The Thais and Viets will impose themselves in athletics and what is crucial for us is the performance of the second block of sports such as bowling, sailing, silat and waterskiing, and see if we can maintain our strong showing.

"There's also water polo and floorball and we also hope for more pleasant surprises from other sports like archery and golf."


This article was first published on June 12, 2015.
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