Largest ever Team S'pore for SEA Games

Largest ever Team S'pore for SEA Games
Singapore's Joseph Schooling competes in the 17th Asian Games in the men's 100m butterfly event held at the Munhak Park Tae-Hwan Aquatics Center in Incheon, South Korea on 24 September 2014.

The largest ever Team Singapore contingent at a SEA Games will compete across all 36 sports when the 28th edition of the biennial event is held here from June 5 to 16.

A provisional list of athletes was approved yesterday when the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) selection committee met to consider nominations for the event.

While the final list of athletes is not expected until mid-April, SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan was confident that it will go beyond the previous high of 483 when the Games was last held on home soil in 1993.

He noted that while qualifying standards remained at the bronze-medal mark from the previous Games, the selection committee - led by Minister for Manpower and SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin - was especially extensive in giving athletes the nod this time.

Said Mr Chan: "It's been a long time since we've hosted these Games - there's every reason to want to have a good showing."

The 1993 Games culminated in what is still a record haul of 50 gold medals for the Republic.

He added: "We want to give the athletes the opportunity to be there at the start line, to try and do honours for our country."

SNOC's decision to nominate a record number of competitors has been welcomed by the athletes.

Squash player Vivian Rhamanan, 28, said: "I think it's really encouraging and a positive sign from the SNOC to allow so many local athletes to compete in this SEA Games. We want to do Singapore proud and this is a great chance for us to do that. Hopefully with these many Singaporeans competing, the public will turn up to support us."

Swimmers like Joseph Schooling, paddlers like Feng Tianwei and the men's water polo team are among those who are expected to lead Singapore's gold medal charge.

Retired thrower and 10-time SEA Games gold medallist James Wong, who came out of retirement twice before, was also a surprise inclusion on the list. Tennis, meanwhile, is making a comeback in Team Singapore's roster.

As the Myanmar SEA Games was hosted in late 2013, Mr Chan said this meant some athletes might not have had the opportunity to compete and qualify for this June's meet.

Thus, those who won a medal in Myanmar or who had just marginally missed the qualifying mark but are actively training are still given the go-ahead.

Said Mr Chan: "We've taken into consideration that we're on home ground and extended the margin a bit. (But) this is not just to win medals. We haven't moved the goal post so far (wide) that everyone comes in."

National sports associations can continue to submit names to the appeals committee if more athletes meet qualifying marks before April 2.

Said Mr Chan: "We want to ensure some sports that's never gotten a chance have a shot at winning their first medal. Or for those in the doldrums, a chance to get a bit of a kick - and hopefully, come alive again after the Games."

This article was first published on January 27, 2015.
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Additional reporting by Jonathan Wong

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