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Shamir Osman
Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014

Sports

Asian Games: Brilliant S'pore Showing, Says CDM phua

The New Paper | Shamir Osman | Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014

The numbers tell an "awesome" story: five gold medals, six of the silver variety and 13 coloured bronze.

That's a performance that puts the Little Red Dot of Singapore in 15th spot in the final tally, above the likes of Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

It doesn't stop there: two Asian Games records, three national marks and 13 personal bests from 223 athletes, 158 of whom were making their debut.

While Jessie Phua, chef de mission of the Singapore contingent to the Incheon Games, was running out of superlatives to describe the collective performance in South Korea, she called for a dialogue with National Sports Associations (NSAs) to take sports a step further.

"I'm sure many of you sat on the edge of your seat with me - they delivered a brilliant performance," Phua told the Singapore media gathered in Incheon.

"But the medal count does not tell the full story... It is a starting point, a point of reference, but more complex than that."

Pointing to fencer Lim Wei Wen's bronze-medal showing in the men's individual epee - the country's first-ever medal at the sport at the Games - Phua saw something that inspired.

"The belief is so strong in him and that's what we really, really hope to see in all our athletes," she said, of intangibles - spotted only when looking beneath the surface - that tell a deeper story of the Games.

From the men and women in table tennis, who stood tall despite being hit by injuries, to the footballers who surprised many with their battling performances, and the shooters who kept their nerve, there is much that has impressed.

LESSONS

And lessons learnt need to be consolidated before Singapore opens its doors to its neighbours for the South-east Asia Games (SEA Games) in June next year.

"To move sports forward, the next best thing to do is to have further dialogue with National Sports Associations, and it should be done as soon as possible, because June 2015 is not far away," said Phua.

"In areas where we have definitely come through brilliantly, keep at it.

"And for those who fell short a little bit, it's time to do some honest soul-searching, and fast-track the things that they need to get sorted out."

While the headlines were hogged by the incident involving three swimmers' - Joseph Schooling, Roanne Ho and Toe Zhen Ren - late night out, Phua, who is also president of the Singapore Bowling Federation, singled out her bowlers' performance as her low point of the Games.

"Although the team won gold in the women's team event - I have to say I am disappointed with the teams' performance. I truly believed we should have come home with more gold medals," she said.

This is despite the fact that bowling ended its Games with one gold medal - the women registering a first-ever team event win - two silvers and a bronze.

And despite bowler Jazreel Tan being Singapore's most bemedalled athlete, with four medals to her name (a gold, two silvers and one bronze).

Eight sports were responsible for Singapore's 24-medal haul, with sailing the top-performing sport, returning with seven medals followed by swimming (five) and bowling (four) close behind.

"NSAs know whether they are up to speed, or if they should have done better. And hopefully they do their soul-searching quickly so they can turn it around fast," said Phua.


This article was first published on Oct 5, 2014.
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