SEA Games 2015: Excelling in service and sports

Two SEA Games 2015 participants who are currently also serving their National Service in the Singapore Police Force.

As police officers, they serve the country by protecting lives. As athletes, they train hard to bring glory to the nation.

Lionel Khoo and Marah Moehammad Ishraf, both 20, are national servicemen (NSFs) with the Singapore Police Force (SPF). They are also two athletes who have done Singapore proud by bagging medals at the SEA Games.

Lionel, a swimmer, won a silver medal in the men's 200m breaststroke and a gold in the 4x100m medley relay, while Marah took home a bronze with the men's rugby team.

They are part of a 19-strong contingent from the SPF taking part in the Games, which end on Tuesday.

Special arrangements were made so that these athletes could get time off to train.

Lionel trains every morning from 5.30am to 7am before he reports to work at Tanglin Police Division at 8.30am.

He gets to leave at 3.30pm, two and a half hours before his colleagues, and trains till 7pm. He was also allowed to take leave one week before the Games to train full-time.

"Without the support of the SPF or my supervisors, my SEA Games performance would not have been such a success," said Lionel, who enlisted in February last year.

"My supervisor is not in town, but he still texted me to tell me, 'Well done'."

Marah, who enlisted last November, is also grateful for the support from the SPF.

"There is a lot we have to sacrifice, such as time with our families," he said.

"But what kept me going was all the support I got from my squad mates, who always texted me at the end of the day, encouraging me."

Both of them added that their colleagues could not attend the Games because of work, but they tried to follow their performances through other platforms and constantly texted them to offer support.

Lionel said: "They found pictures of me in the pool and sent them to congratulate me. It's nice to know that they are always looking out for you."


The two medals are just rewards for the effort he put in to train for the Games.

"I've been training a whole year and it's very, very tiring," said Lionel.

"I sneaked in naps when travelling from my workplace to the pool.

"I didn't have any free time."

Lionel was down with fever three days before his first event, but that only made him more determined to give of his best.

"I had high expectations for this Games," he said.

"It's mentally exhausting but, really, it's all in the mind."

Assistant Commissioner of Police Melvin Yong, director of the police public affairs department, said the force is proud to support the SPF personnel taking part in the Games.

"We are happy to support our officers who are representing our nation at the 28th SEA Games," he said.

"Juggling their policing work and their gruelling training schedule is not easy. Many of them have to make significant sacrifices to be at the top of their game.

"They have done their best and the force is proud of their respective achievements."

This article was first published on June 13, 2015.
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