Athletes, outdo yourselves

Team Singapore are fielding their largest-ever contingent at next month's home SEA Games, and chef de mission Tan Eng Liang yesterday called on athletes in all sports, even those that have not delivered regularly on the international stage, to outdo themselves at the biennial meet.

Tan, who was also CDM the last time Singapore hosted the Games in 1993, remarked that the budget back then was much smaller (reportedly $10 million), compared with the $324.5 million this year. He said this year's contingent should therefore aim to create a lasting legacy beyond winning medals.

He said: "Let me give you an example of a sport that has never done well. Volleyball, for example. All we expect is, don't be last, go and beat one or two other countries, come in fourth or whatever... you do your level best.

"Of course winning is important, but do your parents, schools, and most of all, do your country proud."

He was speaking at the Team Singapore 28th SEA Games flag presentation ceremony, held yesterday at the Singapore Sports Hub's OCBC Square.

A crowd of almost 1,000, including athletes, officials, parents and curious onlookers, packed the venue to witness swimmer and Team Singapore flag-bearer Quah Ting Wen receive the national flag from Tan and Nicholas Fang, Singapore's other CDM.

Gymnast Hoe Wah Toon led the recitation of the athletes' pledge.

Joining them were Singapore National Olympic Council president and Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, as well as Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong.

The sweltering heat hardly mattered, as those present chanted the Team Singapore cheers with fervour and sang the National Anthem.

Suhaidah Yusof, vice-captain of the women's floorball team that is tipped to win gold next month, said: "I hope we can leave behind a legacy, so that floorball players in the future will see my team as an inspiration and will want to continue to make Singapore proud."

Quah, who won four gold medals at the 2009 Asian Youth Games on home soil, called on her compatriots to inspire future generations with their feats at the SEA Games.

She said: "(By putting on a good show) we can show the youths that we can excel in different areas and do Singapore proud in any way.

"Hopefully that would inspire the young ones to pursue their dreams, wherever they may lie."

While the nearly 750 athletes are counting on home support to give them a boost, former national water-skier Paul Fong cautioned: "I competed in 1983 and with your parents, your friends there... it was a little more challenging.

"Having said that... they're more exposed to psychology (and) more competition. Maybe they have bigger shoulders than I did."

To that end, Fang, a former national fencer and triathlete, said: "(Strong performances) are the sort of thing that will stick in people's minds long after all the talk about medal tallies fades.

"Hopefully that creates a sports culture in Singapore that will be more sustainable and long-lasting."

This article was first published on May 13, 2015.
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