NAYPYIDAW- If Dr Tan Eng Liang was Simon Cowell of American Idol fame, then Annabel Pennefather must be Paula Abdul.
Dr Tan, who was the chef de mission (CDM) for the Singapore contingent at the 2011 South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Indonesia, caused a bit of a stir when he labelled the 160-medal haul (42 golds, 45 silvers and 73 bronzes) then as "at best, satisfactory".
But Pennefather, the CDM at the SEA Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, took a decidedly more positive view on the Republic's performance at this year's biennial when she delivered her end-of-Games report at a media conference at the Thingaha Hotel yesterday.
She described the 108 medals (34-29-45) won as "commendable and something we should celebrate".
The 64-year-old said she took into consideration the smaller number of athletes (309 to 2011's 414) participating in fewer sports (27 compared to 33).
Pointing to unexpected medals won in sports such as archery, cycling and equestrian, Pennefather added: "What is a highlight and significant for us, is that we have witnessed many breakthroughs in these Games.
"(These) surprise medals... are really the nicest medals to applaud because they come from sports and events you least expect.
"Also, very pleasing was that our sports like swimming, sailing, table tennis and water polo have continued to be among our top performers. If we look all across the board, we see positive signs."