Team S'pore have winning mindset

Team S'pore have winning mindset
ALL SET: The South-east Asia Games bound silat exponents with their families and well-wishers at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Friday.

They were not even born when the likes of C Kunalan, Patricia Chan, Alex Chan and Tan Thuan Heng starred for Singapore at the 1969 South-east Asia Peninsular (SEAP) Games in what was then Rangoon, the capital of Burma.

Much has obviously changed since.

The region's biggest multi-sport competition is now known as the South-east Asia (SEA) Games, and after 44 years, it is about to return to a country that today is called Myanmar.

In 1969, Singapore was represented at the SEAP Games by 204 athletes and officials.

HISTORY

This year's Games will see Team Singapore field 308 athletes, and the 53 -from sailing, badminton, basketball, silat and canoeing - who left on Friday for Naypyidaw, the new capital of Myanmar, are each chasing their own piece of history, with one eye on the future.

Speaking to The New Paper at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Friday, reigning silat world champion Shakir Juanda, 25, said: "This year's SEA Games will be a stepping stone to the 2015 Games in Singapore, but I am aiming to do well in Myanmar as well.

"And my target is gold."

This will be Shakir's fourth outing at the Games.

He has one bronze and a silver and is desperate to complete his collection, doing battle in the match class J in Myanmar.

Badminton men's singles No. 1 Derek Wong added: "I am aiming to match my semi-final showing in 2011 or go even higher for this SEA Games.

"The competition will be good for me in preparing for next year's Commonwealth Games, as well as the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore."

"Except for the Singapore Open, I've never played in a major Games in Singapore and competing on my home ground will be a special feeling," added the 2012 Olympian.

Canoeist Geraldine Lee also took part in the 2012 London Olympics.

The 26-year-old was the first Singapore canoeist to qualify for the Olympic Games and she is equally as excited about competing in her first SEA Games.

She said: "I'll have my teammates with me this time and I will be competing in a K4 event (where quartets compete in four-seater kayaks), so I won't be alone at the start line.

"It will be a different experience from the Olympics, and it will be exciting."

Team Singapore's athletes will feature in 25 sports at this year's SEA Games, which will be officially held from Dec 11 to 22 and spread across Naypyidaw, Yangon and Ngwe Saung.

Some sports like water polo and football will get underway before the opening ceremony on Wednesday.

sayheng@sph.com.sg


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