SEA Games: Top 11 moments of the Games so far

SEA Games: Top 11 moments of the Games so far
Team Singapore athletes Shanti Pereira, Joseph Schooling, and Quah Ting Wen.
PHOTO: The Straits Times, The New Paper, AFP

SINGAPORE - With five more days to go till the end of the SEA Games, there have been many memorable moments to savour and debate over.

While there surely will be plenty more sporting and non-sporting milestones to come, The Straits Times takes a look at the top 11 so far.

1. Stunning Schooling

Nine golds in nine events. Six individual Games records. And the breaking of a 50m freestyle mark that had stood for 32 years. If there ever was any shred of doubt in swimmer Joseph Schooling's ability to deliver, there can be none now.

Singapore's swimming wonderboy has even caught the attention of English Premier League champions Chelsea, who featured an interview with him on their website.

2. Aide Iskandar resigns as Young Lions coach

An early exit from the group stages of the SEA Games football tournament culminated in the shock resignation of coach Aide Iskandar, in the immediate aftermath of his team's 1-0 loss to Indonesia on Thursday (June 11).

The former national captain, who has been under fire from fans for his team's poor performances, choked back tears as he announced the news during the post-match press conference.

"I thank you all for your support. I want to go back to my family now. They have been waiting for me for a long time," he said.

3. Shanti's blaze of glory

Not since 1973 has a Singapore female sprinter tasted victory in the 200m race. But an undaunted Shanti Pereira emulated the great Glory Barnabas by doing just that, lowering the national record twice in the process on Wednesday (June 10)

"I'm so crazily happy, I can't describe how I feel right now," said the 18-year-old, whose time of 23.60 seconds beat pre-race favourite and 100m winner Kayla Richardson of the Philippines.

4. Decathlete Lance Tan proposes to girlfriend

Sometimes, winning takes a backseat to more important things in life. Singaporean decathlete Lance Tan, 28, might have finished last in most of his events in the men's decathlon, but he ended his SEA Games on a sweet note after proposing to his long-time girlfriend. She said yes, to loud cheers from the crowd at the National Stadium.

He might have missed out on a medal, but he got the girl.

5. Team Singapore's rapid gold rush

Even Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong admitted he was surprised at how quick Singapore beat its previous record haul of 50 golds, set in 1993.

It surpassed the milestone on Day 4 (June 9) of the competition, when swimmer Quah Zheng Wen won the men's 400m individual medley. It was Singapore's historic 51st gold of these Games. It was also the nation's 800th gold overall.

ST has predicted that Team Singapore could have 80 golds by the end of the Games. It is a tall, perhaps overly ambitious ask. But one the Class of 2015 may actually deliver.

6. National Anthem pride

Swimmer Quah Ting Wen has called it the most memorable moment of the Games for her so far, and many will agree.

The track for the National Anthem Majulah Singapura stopped midway through the victory ceremony for the Singapore women's 4x200m freestyle relay quartet of Quah, Christie Chue, Amanda Lim and Rachel Tseng on June 8 due to a faulty PA system. But the patriotic crowd were in fine voice and carried on singing. A truly proud moment for Singapore at the Games.

7. Sportsmanship still exists

Singaporean runner Ashley Liew's actions during the men's marathon on June 7 has been lauded by several ministers, including Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu and Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who congratulated Liew on Facebook for "making us proud, as Singaporeans".

 

Singaporean marathoner Ashley Liew displayed true sportsmanship during the SEA GAMES 2015 He was trailing in the...

Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Tuesday, June 9, 2015

At one point during the race, the 28-year-old found himself with a 50m lead after the 12 other runners took the wrong route. But instead of capitalising on his advantage, he slowed down to give his competitors time to catch up. Liew eventually finished eighth in the race, which was won by compatriot Soh Rui Yong.

8. Gender bender

Controversy arrived in the form of a protest over the gender of female Indonesian volleyball player Aprilia Santini Manganang. The Philippines had demanded that the Games organisers carry out a gender test, citing Manganang's appearance and powerful physique as too masculine. The appeal was rejected.

Indonesia's opening game against the Philippines was marred by large sections of the crowd, made up mostly of Filipinos, booing Manganang. Indonesia eventually won 25-22, 25-20, 25-14.

"Thank you," she said in Bahasa Indonesia. "(The controversy) gave me more spirit to play and win during the match."

9. Outpouring of emotion for Sabah earthquake victims

A shadow was cast over the Games when the opening ceremony on June 5 coincided with a 6.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Sabah, which claimed the lives of 10 people from Singapore.

The Singapore Government declared June 8 a Day of Remembrance to pay tribute to the victims, with all SEA Games venues observing a minute of silence as a mark of respect. Many Team Singapore athletes, including the Under-23 football squad, the national paddlers and men's hockey team, paid emotional visits to the tribute corner set up at Tanjong Katong Primary School.

10. Football's father-son pair light Games cauldron

Singapore's favourite footballing son Fandi Ahmad and his eldest son Irfan were handed the honour of being the final torchbearers in a stunning finale to the SEA Games opening ceremony, ending in the duo lighting the cauldron.

At 17, Irfan is also the youngest member of the Young Lions and looks poised to follow in his famous father's footsteps.

11. Foreign athletes who have lit up the Games

Not content to see Joseph Schooling basking alone in the swimming limelight, Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Anh Vien emerged as the Games' undisputed female swim star. The 18-year-old racked up eight golds - one behind Schooling - and five meet records.

Her compatriots in the artistic gymnastic events were not to be denied either, winning nine of the 14 gold medals on offer, with Dinh Phuong Tanh winning gold in the parallel and horizontal bars, individual all-around, and men's team events.

In diving, Malaysia's utter domination at the regional level continued as they made a clean sweep of all eight diving golds - 21-year-old Ooi Tze Liang led the way with four. Filipino track stars Eric Cray and Kayla Richardson took the 100m sprint titles.

In table tennis, Thailand's inspired female paddlers were the reason why Singapore failed to win all seven table tennis golds. Feng Tianwei was shocked by Suthasini Sawettabut - the eventual women's singles champion - in the group stages.

mklee@sph.com.sg

gohelj@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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