Wong cheered by surprise successes

Wong cheered by surprise successes

Continuing one's dominance in a sport is one thing; breaking new ground in non-traditional areas of strength is another.

And it was Team Singapore's ability to do the latter at this year's SEA Games, which stood out most to Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong.

"What was striking for me, was that we didn't just do well in sports where we are traditionally strong," he said on Monday in an interview with Channel NewsAsia.

He was referring to the feats of athletes such as Mok Ying Ren, who won Singapore's first gold in the men's marathon, and Dinah Chan, the Republic's first female cyclist to strike Games gold. Others like equestrian rider Janine Khoo, archer Chan Jing Ru and judoka Ho Han Boon all ended decades-long waits for titles in their respective disciplines.

And then there was Saiyidah Aisyah, who overcame a lack of funding for her national sports association to become Singapore's first rowing champion since 1997.

"It's very encouraging to see that there are athletes taking up their own training, whatever the administration of the sport may be like," Mr Wong said.

"The Singapore Sports Council will try to support all sports as much as it can (but) there is no perfect funding formula."

Indeed, it remains to be seen if Saiyidah will get to defend her 2,000m women's lightweight single sculls title when the Games come to Singapore in two years.

According to Mr Wong, whether a sport will join the 30 already confirmed disciplines comes down to three factors - guidelines in the Games charter, views of federation members and how well the sport is organised locally.

He did, however, add that other aspects of the 2015 edition are on track, such as the putting out of a tender for accommodation, with organisers planning a "village within the city" concept, and using hotels instead of an athletes' village to house competitors.

It is also hoped that 15,000 volunteers will sign up to be a part of the Games - the first to be hosted by the Republic since 1993.

"The success of the Games is not just about the medals we win or the technical aspect," Mr Wong said. "It's having the whole nation come together, united in spirit, and supporting our athletes."

fabiusc@sph.com.sg


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