Singapore Sports Scene

Discussion in 'Chit-Chat' started by Loh, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Swim siblings Letitia and Levenia Sim game for Asian Games adventure
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    Siblings Letitia (left) and Levenia Sim will make their debut at the Hangzhou Asian Games in September. PHOTO: LEVENIA SIM
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    David Lee
    Sports Correspondent
    UPDATED
    SEP 6, 2023, 11:52 PM SGT

    SINGAPORE – Once the domain of the Quah family, Singapore swimming now has a new sibling pair to count on for success – Letitia Sim, 20, and 17-year-old Levenia.

    The sisters will make their debut at the Hangzhou Asian Games in September, and Letitia is looking forward to experiencing more adventures with her younger sister, particularly after two eventful outings at the SEA Games in 2022 and 2023.

    Ahead of the women’s 100m breaststroke heats at the Hanoi Games in 2022, she got stuck in the toilet at the My Dinh Aquatics Centre.

    A worker had to climb through the false ceiling into her stall to prise open the door with tools, and her heat was pushed back to the end of the programme.

    Letitia ended up winning the event and more drama ensued in the next edition in Phnom Penh, where she fell sick in the sweltering 36 deg C heat – a marked increase from the 16 deg C weather that she is used to while living in Alabama, United States.

    The challenges did not stop her from grabbing seven golds, two silvers and one bronze across both Games.

    Speaking to The Straits Times at the Singapore Aquatics Asian Games media day at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on Wednesday, Letitia said: “Adventures are fun. They make for great stories, and they are exciting to go through.

    “But when it comes to the competition, I definitely wish everything would go according to plan and be as smooth as possible.

    “That said, I always expect the unexpected and feel I’ll be able to adapt to what happens and be able to communicate with different people to get the help that I need.”

    It may be her first Asian Games but breaststroke specialist Letitia knows she has a legacy to live up to, with Roanne Ho winning a women’s 50m breaststroke silver at the 2018 Asiad in Jakarta.

    She also has to be a “babysitter” to Levenia, who will also be making her senior international debut.

    Letitia said: “I don’t really see Roanne’s achievements as external or extra pressure because I also want a medal. But my ultimate goal is to make the Paris Olympic cut.

    “My stress will mostly come from babysitting Levenia because I’m the older sister and I want to make sure she is okay. The last time we raced together was with TNT Swimming more than two years ago, and it’s really exciting because I’ve always wanted to race with her again.”

    The women’s 4x100m medley relay will make for an interesting contest as the Sims will be joined by Quah sisters Ting Wen and Jing Wen – their brother Zheng Wen is also competing in the Asiad.

    Letitia added: “People have called her (Levenia) the missing piece of the puzzle with her backstroke ability, and it could also be two sets of sisters with the Quahs... so it’s like one big happy family and really exciting.”

    While Singapore finished as the third-best swimming nation in 2018 with two golds, one silver and three bronzes – Japan and China were first and second respectively – the task will be harder for the 23-strong squad this time, with double gold medallist Joseph Schooling out of the Asian Games.

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    National swimmers Jonathan Tan and Letitia Sim at the Singapore Aquatics Asian Games media day at the OCBC Aquatic Centre. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY
    National swimming head coach Gary Tan noted that two golds is possible “on a good day” in the men’s 50m freestyle through Jonathan Tan and Teong Tzen Wei, and in the men’s 50m butterfly with Mikkel Lee and Teong.

    He said: “We are going there to break personal bests. If medals come along with that, it will be a natural process. The sprints are a 50-50 crapshoot, as long as our guys fire on all cylinders, they can challenge for the podium.

    “It’s slim pickings in the relays, but we have a chance in the men’s 4x100m free and women’s and mixed medley. Levenia is a strong addition for us in backstroke, where we have been traditionally a bit weaker in.

    “But it’s her first major Games, which can be quite overwhelming for a 17-year-old, and we will try to keep her in a good state of mind.”

    Jonathan, who won the men’s 50m freestyle gold at the 2023 SEA Games and qualified for the 2024 Olympics, is flattered by his coach’s assessment but does not want to place more stress on himself by focusing on a medal.

    Instead, the 21-year-old said: “It’s always been about personal bests for me. I’m still aiming for the Olympic cut in the men’s 100m free, trying to lower my time for the 50m free, and it would be a bonus if I win a medal.”
     
  2. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore win three silvers, five bronzes at Asian Open Short Track Trophy


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    Kimberly Kwek
    UPDATED
    SEP 4, 2023, 11:20 PM SGT

    SINGAPORE – With the Republic’s only Olympic-sized ice rink shut in August, Singapore’s short track speed skaters faced a challenging preparation for the Aug 31-Sept 2 Asian Open Short Track Trophy.

    But they were determined not to let that affect them and found ways around it. For instance, they trained with inline skates on land and travelled to Bangkok a week before the competition to get some time on the ice rink.

    Their perseverance was rewarded as Singapore clinched eight medals – three silvers and five bronzes – at the IWIS International Training Centre in Bangkok, the biggest haul since the country started fielding skaters for the competition in 2014.

    Raeon Zhang, who won silvers in the men’s junior D2 333m and 777m, said: “It shows that dedication and hard work do pay off even though we did not have any ice training for the past one month.

    “It also shows the faith and belief coach Zhao (Yanzhi) had in me when she told me to aim for at least a podium finish for all my events.”

    The nine-year-old, who took up the sport in 2019, was nervous going into his first international overseas competition.

    The Primary 4 pupil at Greenwood Primary School said: “I was feeling very scared and nervous before I came for the competition as I had not been practising on ice for the past month.

    “Furthermore, most of the competitors in my group were older and stronger than me.”

    But Raeon quickly put those jitters aside to deliver medal-winning performances in personal-best times.

    He clocked 1min 30.692sec in the longer event to finish between Hong Kong’s Karl Man (1:30.549) and Cheung Hau Yau (1:34.949).

    In the shorter distance, his time of 36.890 seconds also placed him behind Karl (36.630sec) and ahead of Hau Yau (38.880sec).

    Also impressing in Singapore’s team of 11 skaters was Braelynn Nga. Like Raeon, she was competing in her first international overseas event.

    The 11-year-old clinched silver in the women’s junior D 777m after clocking 1:27.251. Australia’s Sophie Jeon took gold in 1:24.425, with Thailand’s Pimchanok Suvanprakorn (1:29.392) bagging bronze.

    The Primary 5 Fairfield Methodist School pupil said: “I felt nervous and a little unprepared due to lack of ice training for a month prior to the competition.

    “But I put in my best and learnt from my experience. I am also glad that I made new friends and built a strong rapport with my teammates.”

    The Republic’s bronzes were won by Lavelle Zhang (women’s junior C 500m), Loh Geok Qin (women’s junior C 1,000m), Keegen Chan (men’s junior B 1,500m), Amelia Chua (women’s junior B 500m) and Chloe Luai (women’s junior A 1,000m).

    Singapore team leader Alicia Tan said: “This is Singapore’s best showing at the Asian Open, and I am very pleased at the fighting spirit displayed by all our skaters.

    “In addition to the medals, our skaters clocked 12 new personal bests during the competition.

    “The extra effort plus the will to press on and do their best have paid off.”

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    Sombre mood among winter sports community as the JCube rink shuts down
    After a quiet 2022, Xu Jing Feng returns with four golds at SEA Open Short Track Trophy
     
  3. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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  4. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Cambodia Men’s Water Polo Team Boosts Skills with Singapore Training Session

    By Prince Foundation
    Wednesday, 20 Sep 2023 11:15 AM MYT
    Collaborative effort by the Khmer Swimming Federation, the Singapore Swimming Association, and Prince Foundation nurtures the newly formed team.

    PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - Media OutReach - 20 September 2023

    The Cambodia Men’s National Water Polo Team successfully completed a week-long training session in Singapore from September 10 to 15, 2023. The team underwent intensive training with the Singapore Men’s National Water Polo Team, gaining exposure to advanced training models and insights from one of the strongest water polo teams in Southeast Asia.

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    This initiative was made possible through a joint effort between the Khmer Swimming Federation (KSF), Singapore Swimming Association, and Prince Foundation, with generous support from Cambodia Airways. A 12-player team and their coaches from Cambodia trained in Singapore, engaging in sparring sessions with the Singapore National Youth Water Polo team and the Singapore Sports School team. Additionally, they had the opportunity to explore local tourist attractions during their free time.

    Mr. Gabriel Tan, Chief Communications Officer of Prince Holding Group, expressed optimism about the training trip. “This collaboration not only promotes sportsmanship but also fosters relations at the grassroots level. We are delighted to offer our support to the Cambodian team as part of our ongoing commitment to uplifting communities and sporting talents,” said Mr. Tan.

    Mr. Kiry Hem, Secretary General of the Khmer Swimming Federation (KSF), highlighted the significance of the training. “The trip to Singapore is a momentous one for our young water polo team. Gaining hands-on experience with a team of Singapore’s caliber is invaluable. This kind of international exposure will be instrumental in boosting our team’s performance in future competitions,” stated Mr. Hem.

    During the training, the Cambodian team had the unique opportunity to learn from Singapore’s training model and ecosystem. This collaborative effort aims to create a sustainable interest in water polo and provide Cambodian players with opportunities to enhance their skills and strategies.

    In the recently concluded 32nd SEA Games, the Singapore men’s national water polo team clinched the gold medal, while Thailand and Indonesia settled for silver and bronze, respectively. Despite not earning a medal this year, the Cambodian team showed promising potential, considering they were newly formed for the 2023 SEA Games.

    Hashtag: #PrinceFoundation #PrinceHoldingGroup #KhmerSwimmingFederation #SingaporeSwimmingAssociation
     
  5. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore looks to rejuvenate women’s freestyle sprinters
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    The Singapore women's 4x100m freestyle relay team (right) after the final at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Park Aquatics Center on Sept 24. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
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    David Lee
    Sports Correspondent
    UPDATED
    9 HOURS AGO

    HANGZHOU – There is a “big concern” when it comes to replacing the golden girls of Singapore swimming, especially where sprinters Quah Ting Wen and Amanda Lim are concerned, according to national coach Gary Tan.

    Both swimmers have crossed the 30-year-old mark but are still the standard bearers – Quah won 50m and 100m freestyle golds at the 2023 SEA Games while Lim was second in the shorter sprint – with no youngsters coming close to matching their speed.

    And so, they huffed and puffed alongside Quah Jing Wen and Nur Marina Chan to finish fourth in the Asian Games women’s 4x100m freestyle final at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Park Aquatics Centre on Sunday as China, Japan and Hong Kong made the podium in that order.

    The women can still hold their heads high as their time of 3min 44.16sec was more than two seconds faster than what they clocked as the third-best qualifiers in the morning heats, and 0.13 seconds quicker than when they won the Republic’s 1,000th gold at the SEA Games in May.

    But looking to the future, Tan said: “I’m not gonna lie. We do have a big concern especially in our pipeline. That’s why there’s a lot being done to try and lift up the programming.

    “The clubs need to step up on building programmes because we cannot just keep relying on these girls as they are in their twilight years and they have contributed enough... to lift the standard. The new ones need to come through.”

    Ting Wen, 31, intimated these could be her last Asiad and said: “It would have been really nice to win a medal. That’s why we are all here, but I think I can walk away from this race, potentially my last Asian Games, knowing that I did everything I could today and I’m proud of myself and my teammates.”

    Lim, 30, added: “Coming in fourth is hard, but a bronze medal was a long shot as well. Third place was 3:39.10, which meant all of us needed to swim massive personal bests to reach that. All of our splits were pretty decent, which meant we are moving in the right direction heading into the world championships next year.”

    There was one bright spark in the form of a national record from Letitia Sim, who finished seventh in the women’s 50m breaststroke in 31.15sec and improved on her previous mark by one hundredth of a second.

    The 20-year-old, who holds the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke national records, said: “It didn’t feel as amazing as I wanted it to be, but I’m happy with the swim overall. The start felt wonky. I’m not on my A-game just yet, but that’s fine. There’s still the 100m, which is what I’m looking forward to. This sets me up really well for that.”

    Elsewhere, there was another fourth place for Singapore with Gan Ching Hwee completing the women’s 1,500m freestyle in 16:24.67, around seven seconds off Japan’s bronze medallist Yukimi Moriyama.

    It was a closer fight for third place in the women’s 200m butterfly, but Jing Wen gradually lost pace in the battle for bronze and finished fifth in 2:10.13, less than a second behind Japan’s third-placed Hiroko Makino’s 2:09.22.

    In the men’s 100m freestyle, South-east Asia’s fastest man Jonathan Tan came in sixth in 48.94sec, while teammate Quah Zheng Wen was eighth in 49.27sec, while in the men’s 200m individual medley, Zachary Tan and Maximillian Ang placed seventh (2:02.94) and eighth (2:03.21) respectively.

    Gary said of Sim’s record: “Even if it is 0.01, we will take the national record in what was a very tough and competitive environment. It’s a good learning curve on the first day, and we have five more days of racing to achieve more.”

    Among other races on Monday, Asia’s fastest man in the pool will be crowned as Jonathan will look to make an impact in the 50m free. With his national record of 21.91sec, the 21-year-old has the second-fastest time in Asia in 2023 behind the 21.86sec set by Hong Kong’s Ian Ho.

     
  6. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore sailors win their first medals at Asian Games
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    Singapore's Justin Liu (left) and Denise Lim celebrate winning silver in the Nacra 17 at the Asian Games. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
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    Kimberly Kwek
    UPDATED
    10 HOURS AGO

    NINGBO, China – As their boat crossed the finish line in the waters off the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre on Tuesday, Justin Liu put his arm around his wife and sailing partner Denise Lim.

    It was a subdued celebration from the pair after sealing silver at the Asian Games.

    But, for the Nacra 17 duo, behind this small gesture lay a myriad of emotions after a long, choppy journey to their first Asiad medal together.

    For this was a medal that took them nine years to achieve.

    The pair had tried to qualify for the 2014 Incheon Games but did not make the cut, and the class did not feature in 2018 in Jakarta.

    Liu, who previously won two Asiad golds in the men’s 420, said: “To finally be here and get a medal, when we finished it was so many emotions because the journey has been so long and we finally did it.”

    The Singaporeans were second with 28 net points after 14 races, behind China’s Zhao Huancheng and Wang Saibo, who had 18.

    Their silver was one of the four medals won by Singapore’s sailors on the penultimate day of racing, with Isaac Goh and Keira Carlyle winning a silver and bronze respectively in the ILCA 4 youth classes, and women’s 49erFX pair Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low clinching a bronze.

    Liu and Lim’s sailing journey has been riddled with storms since the couple, both 32, started competing together in 2014. In 2015, they coughed up more than $30,000 to fund their Olympic qualifying campaign for the 2016 Rio Games.

    In 2022, they trained on their own as they could not afford a coach – this resulted in them missing out on some regattas where a coach was a prerequisite.

    Lim said: “It’s definitely not easy to do it by yourself, it’s much better to have someone outside giving information and having another opinion. Sometimes when you’re in the boat, it’s hard to know how everyone else is doing as well.”

    But overcoming these obstacles have made their achievements much more special for the couple, who are gunning for their second Olympics.

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    Singapore's Justin Liu and Denise Lim going up against China's Zhao Huancheng and Wang Saibo in the Nacra 17 at the Asian Games. PHOTO: SPORT SINGAPORE
    Liu said: “It’s what drives you. Whenever things aren’t going so well, you take that in, you hold it and when you finally do something like this, you’re like ‘Oh yes’.”

    While the pair were delighted with their medal, there was disappointment for 49erFX defending champions Kimberly and Low, who had to settle for the bronze after finishing five points behind China’s gold medallists Hu Xiaoyu and Shan Mengyuan (27), and Japan’s Misaki Tanaka and Sera Nagamatsu (29).

    The duo, who both have two golds and a silver from previous Asiads, cut forlorn figures as they arrived back on shore on Tuesday, where they were surrounded by teammates and officials.

    Kimberly, 27, said: “In the end, it’s going to be hard to swallow. It will set in soon enough but all we can take is all the good stuff, learn from what else didn’t go so well.”

    It had been a challenging week for the pair, who said they were still figuring out the right set-up for their boat after an equipment change in their class.

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    Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low of Singapore in action during the Sailing Women 49erfx event at the 19th Asian Games. The duo claimed a bronze in the event. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
    They have also struggled with injuries since returning to full-time training in May.

    But Kimberly and Low, who made history at the Tokyo Olympics by becoming the first Singaporeans to qualify for a medal race, confirmed that they will be trying for a second Olympic outing.

    They will return to Singapore for a short break before heading to Portugal to train ahead of November’s European championships and the Asian Continental Olympic Qualifier a month later.

    Low, 32, said: “We couldn’t have done anything different and that was something we have to hold on to and work towards the next event.”

    For youngsters Isaac and Keira, their Asiad debuts will be unforgettable.

    Keira, 17, had to endure a nerve-racking night before her final race as she entered the last day in fourth spot.

    She needed to finish higher than South Korea’s Seol Jaek-young – level on points but third with more first-place finishes – in order to secure a bronze.

    And the teenager delivered, winning her final race to finish third overall on 28 net points. Thailand’s Noppassorn Khunboonjan claimed the gold with 16 net points and India’s Neha Thakur (27) won the silver.

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    Singapore sailors Keira Carlyle and Isaac Goh won the bronze and silver in the girls’ and boys’ ILCA 4 at the Asian Games. PHOTO: SNOC
    Isaac finished second with 21 net points after 11 races, behind Thailand’s world champion Weka Bhanubandh (13) and ahead of Malaysia’s Asnawi Iqbal Adam (44).

    In the 49er, Singapore’s Koh Yi Nian and Tan Jen-E finished sixth with 68 net points.

    The final day of sailing on Wednesday will see several Singaporeans gunning for medals.

    Kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder will contest in the medal series after winning all 16 of his races, while ILCA 7 sailor Ryan Lo is first on 26 net points heading into the medal race, seven ahead of three-time defending champion Ha Jee-min of South Korea.

    Victoria Chan sits third in the ILCA 6 standings while iQfoilers Marsha Shahrin and Elkan Oh are fourth and sixth respectively in the women’s and men’s events.
     
  7. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Wushu exponent Kimberly Ong wins Singapore’s first medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games

    With an Asiad bronze medal added to her collection, Ong has her sights on competing at the world championships in November in Texas and the 2029 SEA Games in Singapore – hopefully, delivering a few more surprises.

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    Kimberly Kwek
    The Straits Times

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    Kimberly Ong’s medal is Singapore’s seventh in wushu at the Asian Games. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO/ THE STRAITS TIMES

    September 26, 2023

    SINGAPORE – Kimberly Ong did not have many expectations going into the Asian Games, but she surprised herself on Monday as she clinched bronze in the women’s changquan for Singapore’s first medal in Hangzhou.

    Given that the wushu exponent had suffered a health scare at the start of 2023, was not competing in her pet daoshu and gunshu combined event and was unable to train as much as she would have liked owing to her studies, the Asiad debutante did not want to put too much pressure on herself.

    And the 20-year-old handled her maiden appearance at the quadrennial Games well, scoring 9.756 points to finish third at the Xiaoshan Guali Sports Centre, behind gold medallist Li Yi (9.786) from Macau and Hong Kong’s Liu Xuxu (9.756). In the case of a tie in points, the athlete who executes a routine of higher difficulty will rank higher.

    Singapore’s other representative Zoe Tan was fourth with 9.753 points.

    Ong, a two-time SEA Games gold medallist, said: “Just now I was in a bit of disbelief, but it’s sunk in a little. I was completely not expecting a medal at all.

    “My competitors were quite strong, so coming in I didn’t want to put pressure on myself so I told myself to focus on my performance and (do) my best.”

    In the men’s taijiquan and taijijian all-round on Monday, Singapore’s Chan Jun Kai and Tay Yu Xuan finished 10th and 15th respectively.

    Ong’s medal is Singapore’s seventh in wushu at the Asian Games. Their last medal was in 2014, when Tan Yan Ni also clinched bronze in the women’s changquan.

    The omission of the daoshu and gunshu event here saw Ong switch to the changquan, which she admits is not her strong suit.

    Her last medal in the event came at the 2019 Asian junior championships and she finished eighth and 10th in changquan at the previous two SEA Games.

    But that did not deter Ong, who trained diligently, practising and analysing her moves in front of the mirror to see how she could improve.

    She said: “It’s a testament to my hard work over the past few months.

    “I’m more comfortable competing in daoshu and gunshu and because of these Asian Games I’ve learnt to like changquan a bit more.”

    It was not easy for the National University of Singapore law undergraduate, who has her examinations next week, as she was able to train only once a day instead of twice like some of her other teammates because of school.

    At the beginning of 2023, she also had to undergo surgery to remove a 10cm cyst in her womb, an ordeal that she says has made her more optimistic.

    In 2019, she had considered quitting after suffering a meniscus tear in her right knee that kept her out of wushu for six months, resulting in a dip in motivation.

    But it was during the pandemic when she was unable to train that Ong realised that she had unfulfilled business in the sport.

    She said: “When I’d gotten over the tough times, I realised there were so many ways to challenge myself in training and I wanted to try to make the most of it.”

    She did just that and has enjoyed a good run of results in recent years.

    With an Asiad bronze medal added to her collection, Ong has her sights on competing at the world championships in November in Texas and the 2029 SEA Games in Singapore – hopefully, delivering a few more surprises.
     
  8. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Double joy for Singapore as kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder and sailor Ryan Lo strike gold at the Asian Games
    Remote video URL
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    Kimberly Kwek
    UPDATED
    29 MINS AGO

    NINGBO, China – A line had gathered at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre on Wednesday as volunteers waited to take photos with newly-crowned men’s Formula Kite Asian Games champion Maximilian Maeder.

    One had even brought a model boat for the Singaporean to sign. The teenager, who turned 17 earlier in September, has captured the attention of many with his performances on the international circuit, including winning the world championships in August.

    This was his first Asiad and Maximilian has been utterly dominant. He had won all 16 of his races and needed just one win in the medal series to secure the gold but did not even have to get wet on Wednesday after bad weather conditions meant all races were cancelled.


    He topped the fleet of seven with 13 net points, followed by China’s Zhang Haoran (26) and Thai Joseph Weston (38). He said: “I was definitely excited to go out and compete and give it one last race, but the conditions are what they are and I am no less happy for sure.

    “It’s a lot of people being here and supporting you... In case something went wrong or you get bad luck, you’re still a great member of the team and you don’t have pressure to need to perform, but you say ‘I’ve got you. In case something bad happens, I’ll still be there to support you’.”

    He and compatriot Ryan Lo, who won the ILCA 7 event, were the first athletes to strike gold for Singapore at the Hangzhou Games.

    This was also Lo’s first Asiad title, after bronzes in the optimist and laser standard at the 2010 and 2018 Games respectively. In the process, he secured an Olympic quota spot for Singapore at the 2024 Paris Games.

    Lo, 26, was his usual calm and composed self, but in the two hours leading up to it, he had been a bundle of nerves. With the start of races delayed, Lo, who was in first place and seven points ahead of South Korea’s Ha Jee-min, faced an anxious wait to see if the medal race would commence.

    For the entire morning, he was tracking the ILCA 6 race – it was later cancelled but had been scheduled to start at 11am, an hour before his own event – and monitoring the wind conditions to mentally prepare himself in case he needed to race at the last minute.

    He said: “It was a bit nerve-racking having to wait this long for a race but I’m just glad to be able to finish this event, win it and qualify the country (for the Olympics). I cannot complain and I’m just really satisfied with my week.

    “I’m looking forward to improving and working on what I need to work on in the upcoming year and to qualify myself personally for the Olympics.”

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    Sailor Ryan Lo in action in the ILCA 7 at the Asian Games. ST: MARK CHEONG

    It was not all smooth sailing for the four-time SEA Games champion, who sat fourth after the first day of the regatta. While Lo, who competed at the Tokyo Olympics, had to “dig deep to try and find my form and consistency and try not to get too affected by any sort of negative experiences on water”, he was happy with how he managed to control himself both emotionally and psychologically.

    With Victoria Chan adding a bronze in the ILCA 6 on Wednesday, Singapore’s sailors wrapped up their Asian Games campaign with two golds, two silvers and three bronzes, placing them third behind China (6-2-0) and Thailand (3-2-2). At the last edition in Jakarta in 2018, Singapore took home a gold and a bronze.

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    Sailor Victoria Chan being congratulated after she claimed a bronze medal at the Asian Games on Sept 27, 2023. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

    Chung Pei Ming, Singapore Sailing head of high performance and coaching, said the contingent had exceeded expectations, noting this was an important year with the SEA Games and Asian Games. He said: “It’s also been about getting closer to the podium and right now, we are looking at a promising medal in 2024.

    “Ryan has been in our programme from very young – that would be a testament to our programme being successful and there being a good, solid pathway that builds up enough confidence for the youth to say I’m going to do something different, I’m going to go on an Olympic campaign.”

    Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, who was in Ningbo, said: “Overall, it was a fantastic showing by the sailing team. This sets up quite well for the next couple of months as we lead into Paris 2024.”
     
  9. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Yahoo Southeast Asia

    Asian Games 2023: Maximilian Maeder lands 1st gold for Singapore with dominant show
    Story by Chia Han Keong •7h


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    Asian Games 2023: Maximilian Maeder lands 1st gold for Singapore with dominant show

    SINGAPORE — He has had a stellar 2023 - winning the Formula Kite title at the Sailing World Championships, earning Singapore a sailing spot at the 2024 Olympics, and winning the Sportsboy of the Year honours at the Singapore Sports Awards for the second straight year.

    On Wednesday (27 September), Maximilian Maeder added the Asian Games gold medal to his growing list of accomplishments, as he dominated the Formula Kite competition at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre to clinch Singapore's first gold at the Games.

    The 17-year-old - the youngest winner in any Olympic sailing class competition after emerging triumphant at the world championships earlier this year - won every of his 16 races to enter the final as the top qualifier.

    However, the final was called off due to weak winds, meaning the Singaporean could take home the gold medal.

    Maeder has been making waves since winning the first of his three Formula Kite youth titles in 2021. He also won the Formula Kite men's competition at the 2021 World Sailing Youth Championships, and rose to the top of the men's Formula Kite world rankings in September 2021.

    His remarkable sporting achievements earned him a three-year sponsorship from beverage company Yeo Hiap Seng and the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation in 2022, supporting his training and equipment as he aims for Olympic glory next year.

    Earlier in the day, Victoria Chan added a bronze medal for Singapore in the women’s ILCA6 event, after her medal race was also cancelled.
     
  10. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Sailor Ryan Lo takes home Singapore’s second gold medal at Asian Games
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    Singapore sailor Ryan Lo at the Asian Games on Sep 27, 2023. (Photo: SportSG/Jeremy Lee)

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    Matthew Mohan
    @MatthewMohanCNA
    27 Sep 2023 01:43PM(Updated: 27 Sep 2023 07:15PM)
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    NINGBO, China: Back in the country where his Asian Games journey began, third time proved the charm for sailor Ryan Lo as he won Singapore’s second gold medal at the Asian Games on Wednesday (Sep 27).

    He clinched victory in the ILCA7 event after the medal race on Wednesday was cancelled due to poor weather conditions. Based on the ranking from the opening series, Lo finished top in the event.

    South Korea's Ha Jeemin took silver and India's Vishnu Saravanan the bronze.

    “It was a bit nerve-racking having to wait this long for a race. But just glad to be able to finish this event, win it and qualify the country (for the Olympics),” said Lo.

    “I cannot complain and I’m just really satisfied.”

    The gold medal means Lo has secured a quota spot for Singapore at next year’s Paris Olympics. A quota place guarantees that an athlete from Singapore will be competing in the event at the Olympics.

    Lo finished with a bronze medal in the same event at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

    I came into this Games ... more confident in my ability, in my preparation," he said.

    "Five years older, definitely much more maturity, treated this Games as professional as I could. (I) just tried to treat it as any other competition, reduce the pressure and I think I can be quite pleased with how I dealt with it this past week."

    Lo also has an Optimist bronze from 2010 to his name, which he won in China.

    “To come back here again, back to China, and win a gold definitely means a lot. It’s very special for me,” said Lo.

    The Singaporean also paid tribute to his family.

    “(It’s been) about 19 years that I’ve been sailing. My family has always been there from the beginning and I could not have been where I'm at without all their support and guidance,” said Lo.

    Lo’s gold was Singapore’s second of the day after world champion kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder won the men’s formula kite event.

    The final that Maeder would have featured in was also called off due to poor weather conditions, meaning the Singaporean teenager took home the gold medal.

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    Singapore sailor Ryan Lo at the Asian Games on Sep 26, 2023. (Photo: SportSG/Jeremy Lee)
    Related:
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    Singapore sailors take 2 silvers, 2 bronzes at Asian Games in Hangzhou
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    Singapore's sailors wrap up SEA Games campaign with 3 golds
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    Ryan Lo poses after winning Singapore's second gold of the Asian Games. (Photo: SportSG/Jeremy Lee)
    Earlier on Wednesday, Victoria Chan added to the sailors’ impressive medal tally after she took bronze in the Women’s ILCA 6 event. Chan’s medal race was also cancelled.

    On Tuesday, Singapore sailors won two silvers and two bronzes, courtesy of Justin Liu and Denise Lim (Nacra 17) and Isaac Goh (boys' ILCA4), as well as Keira Carlyle (girls' ILCA4) and the duo of Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low (women's 49erFX).

    Singapore’s sailors concluded their Asiad campaign with two golds, two silvers and three bronzes, a significant improvement on the previous haul of one gold and one bronze at the 2018 Games.

    Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the final day of competition, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong hailed a “really fantastic showing” by the sailors.

    “I think this does set us up quite well for the next couple of months as we lead into Paris 2024,” he said.

    “The reality is they didn't win the medal only today. They had a nice run-in, very competitive, very tough competition. The last five, six days was really where the medal was won, hard work was done there, and I'm very happy for them.”

    Catch the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 LIVE with 6 dedicated channels on mewatch. Sign in now at mewatch.sg/asiangames to catch all the action for FREE, or catch highlights on Mediacorp Entertainment on YouTube.
    Source: CNA/cm
     
  11. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Former S’pore sprinter Gary Yeo ‘privileged’ to fly athletics team to Asian Games
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    Former national sprinter Gary Yeo (right) says it is a privilege to fly the athletes given that he was once an athlete. PHOTO: ST FILE

    Melvyn Teoh
    UPDATED
    SEP 27, 2023, 2:18 PM SGT

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    SINGAPORE – Singapore’s track and field athletes will be flying to Hangzhou for the 2022 Asian Games with a familiar face on their flight on Wednesday afternoon.

    Former national sprinter Gary Yeo will be in the cockpit as the first officer for Scoot flight TR188, which will depart from Changi Airport for Hangzhou with a Singapore Athletics contingent comprising high jumpers Michelle Sng and Kampton Kam, runner Goh Chui Ling and hurdler Ang Chen Xiang.

    The rest of the 20-member team travelled to China earlier on Tuesday.

    Yeo said: “It was the company that asked me, I thought of volunteering, but I did not want to trouble anybody,” he said.

    The 37-year-old, who won five silvers at the SEA Games from 2009 to 2015, said: “It’s always a privilege to represent the company to fly the athletes, given that I was once an athlete.

    “But now I am on the operating side, considering it another form of public service, unfortunately, I won’t be landing the plane.”

    Yeo says that he is excited to meet some of his former teammates like Sng, Goh and Ang on the flight.

    Singapore Athletics president Lien Choong Luen said that former sprinter Yeo is coming full circle to help out the team in another way.

    Lien said: “Our national athletes are doing us proud in Hangzhou, a reflection of the time that they have spent in training and build-up competitions.

    “But even after their competitive years are over, many stay on as coaches, administrators or parents to a whole new generation of athletes.

    “Gary was a national athlete competing at the Asian Games, a part of the Singapore Athletics committee and now flying the team to the Games.”

    Yeo served on the SAA committee as the athletes’ commission representative and stepped down in March 2020.

    When asked whether he would consider rejoining the association, Yeo told the Straits Times: “I think given the right opportunity and the right timing, it’s something that I would have to give serious thought to, I wouldn’t say no right now at this moment.”

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    Team Singapore flag off Chinese zodiac race at the Asian Games
    Double joy for Singapore as kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder and sailor Ryan Lo strike gold at the Asian Games

    Yeo won a 100m silver at the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang and was part of the quartet who won four silvers at the Games – they clocked the national record of 39.24 seconds at the 2015 edition on home soil.

    He also competed in the 2012 London Olympics, and the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games.

    Yeo does not miss running but rather the “level of competition and intensity”, as he is now focused on his job.

    He believes that the 20-member track and field team will make Singapore proud in Hangzhou, adding: “The athletes under coach Luis (Cunha) do stand a chance of getting a medal, of course there is the relay team as well, they are on an upward trajectory.”

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    A human Games is always more than just a medal tally
    Singapore sailors win their first medals at Asian Games
     
  12. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Teong Tzen Wei delivers first swimming medal for Singapore at Hangzhou Asian Games with 50 fly silver
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    Teong Tzen Wei clocked 23.34 seconds to finish behind South Korea's Baek In-chul in the men's 50m butterfly on Sept 28. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
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    David Lee
    Sports Correspondent
    UPDATED
    2 HOURS AGO

    HANGZHOU – It had been a rough 2023 for Teong Tzen Wei, who tore his elbow ligament at the short-course World Swimming Championships in December 2022.

    His recovery involved platelet-rich plasma treatment and also patience as he worked hard to rediscover his form. At the Cambodia SEA Games in May, he was visibly upset after losing his sprint crowns.

    The light at the end of the tunnel arrived on Thursday, the penultimate day of the Asian Games swim meet, as he helped Singapore break their medal duck at the pool with a silver in the 50m butterfly.

    He clocked 23.34 seconds and was just out-touched by South Korean Baek In-chul (23.29sec for a new Games record), but ahead of Kazakhstan’s Adilbek Mussin (23.44sec). The second Singaporean Mikkel Lee was seventh in 23.60sec.

    “I was crying a lot then, now it’s just smiles,” said a beaming Teong, 25.

    After thanking his parents, who were with him, coaches, physiotherapist and gym coach, he added: “There’s always that half where you need to pat yourself on the back, but there’s also the voice inside telling you, you should be better. There are always more races to come.

    “Tonight, I felt really good off the start. The last 10 metres is always my issue, and I kind of wish sometimes these were a short-course Asian Games.

    “But it’s okay, I’ll play to my strength, which is my underwater kicks, and I’ve been working on my strokes, which I haven’t been able to because of my injury.”

    It was an evening of fine margins again for Singapore’s swimmers. After missing out on a 100m breaststroke medal by 0.12sec on Wednesday, Letitia Sim endured another cruel finish. She swam 2min 26.43sec – 1.3sec faster than her national record – but was fourth in the 200m race, 0.02sec behind bronze medallist Runa Imai (2:26.41) of Japan.

    China’s Ye Shiwen took gold in 2:23.84 followed by South Korean Kwon Seh-yun (2:26.31).

    Sim, 20, has set national records in the 50m, 100m, and 200m breaststroke, as well as the mixed 4x100m medley at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Park Aquatics Centre but it was mixed emotions as she came so close to medals.

    “Short limbs,” was her cheeky reply. She added: “Last night was so hard mentally, physically I was just drained. I was learning to move past it and I handled it as well as I could. I’m really excited with how I performed today... all little baby steps and moving in the right direction.”

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    Letitia Sim finished fourth in the 200m breaststroke. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
    Amanda Lim (25.07sec) and Quah Ting Wen (25.09sec) cut more emotional figures after finishing fourth and fifth respectively in the 50m freestyle, improving not just their times but also their ranking by one position each from the 2018 Asiad in Jakarta.

    But they just could not get their hands on a medal as China’s Zhang Yufei won in a Games record of 24.26sec, followed by Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey (24.34sec) and China’s Cheng Yujie (24.60sec).

    Lim said: “Being 0.01 from my best time is decent, but I’m just so sick and tired of doing decent times. I want a good time. Decent is not going to cut it. We know we can do it.”

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    Amanda Lim (left) and Quah Ting Wen finished fourth and fifth respectively in the 50m freestyle. PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG, LIANHE ZAOBAO
    Quah added: “It’s a pretty punishing sport, where we peak only once or twice during the season, so it has to be perfect or it might just be s**t.”

    Another fourth-place finish came in the men’s 4x100m free relay, where anchor Lee, despite his exertions earlier in the 50m fly, produced an outstanding 47.25sec for the second-fastest split of the field to almost steal bronze from Japan.

    Alas, he, Jonathan Tan, Quah Zheng Wen and Ardi Azman had to be content with a national record 3:14.77 which qualifies them for the World Championships and allows them to have a crack at qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

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    (From left) Mikkel Lee, Jonathan Tan, Ardi Azman and Quah Zheng Wen finished fourth in the men’s 4x100m free relay. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
    China won in an Asian record of 3:10.88, followed by South Korea (3:12.96) and Japan (3:14.26).

    Tan, fourth in the men’s 50m free and 4x200m free relay and mixed 4x100m medley relay as well as sixth in the 100m free, said: “It definitely hurts.”

    But Zheng Wen interjected: “He is still young. He will be 24 at the next Asian Games, that’s his peak. There’s nothing to worry about, getting fourth is impressive now. He has one or two more Asian Games and he will be doing good.”

    In other finals, China’s breaststroke king Qin Haiyang won the 200m in a Games record 2:07.03 while Kim Woo-min took South Korea’s tally to five swim titles as he clinched the 800m free in a Games record of 7:46.03. The hosts rounded off the night with the women’s 4x200m free gold in 7:49.34, with Singapore seventh in 8:29.08.

    China now have 24 golds, needing just two more on Friday to overhaul Japan’s record of 25 from Bangkok 1978.

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    Singapore’s Jowen Lim wins historic wushu silver at Asian Games
    Singapore’s athletics fraternity buzzing as Shanti Pereira targets Asian Games glory
     
  13. 80plus

    80plus Regular Member

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    Watched her running in 200 M Finals...Congrats to SG & her..
     
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  14. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore’s Shanti Pereira wins historic 200m Asian Games gold
    This is Shanti Pereira's second medal at this year's Asian Games after taking silver in the 100m.

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    Singapore’s Shanti Pereira celebrates winning the women's 200m final at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Oct 2, 2023. (Photo: AFP/William West)

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    Matthew Mohan
    @MatthewMohanCNA
    02 Oct 2023 07:50PM(Updated: 02 Oct 2023 08:20PM)
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    HANGZHOU, China: As Singapore held its breath in expectation, its sprint queen delivered jubilation.

    At the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium on Monday (Oct 2), Shanti Pereira clocked 23.03s to win the women’s 200m final at the Asian Games.

    It is Singapore’s first athletics gold medal since 1974, when Chee Swee Lee won the women’s 400m.

    China's Li Yuting took the 200m silver with 23.28s and Bahrain's Edidiong Ofonime Odiong came third at 23.48s. Odiong's compatriot, Salwa Eid Naser, was disqualified for a false start.

    On Saturday, Pereira ended her country's nearly 50-year wait for an Asiad track and field medal, after she clinched a silver in the women’s 100m.

    Pereira, whose 200m personal best stands at 22.57s, then topped all three heats for the event the next day, with a time of 23.14s.

    This was her first Asian Games final in the 200m. At the last edition in 2018, she did not advance past the semi-finals.

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    Singapore sprinter Shanti Pereira during her 200m final at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China on Oct 2, 2023. (Photo: SportSG/Jeremy Lee)
    OVERCOMING ADVERSITY
    The Singaporean has overcome much to get to where she is today.

    She first burst into the nation's consciousness at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games when she took gold in the 200m, clocked a personal best and set a new national record. Her win also ended a 42-year gold medal drought for Singapore in a SEA Games sprint event.

    But with it came the enormity of expectations. That coupled with injuries meant that some wrote Pereira off over the next few years.

    "Slowly, people just kind of lost faith in me. People have their opinions about my journey, and whatnot. I think, for a while there, I really did let it get to me, which is not ideal,” she said previously.

    "There was a lot of self-doubt that kind of grew as the years went by. Just because it was like - again another season I couldn't get a PB (personal best), and it just continued and continued and continued.”


    The negativity ate her up, added Pereira. It got to the point that there were times when she was no longer excited to compete or even train. Instead, what she felt was fear.

    But she never gave up.

    With support from her family and the guidance of coach Luis Cunha, she bounced back at the 2022 SEA Games, clinching gold in the 200m and silver in the 100m.

    In May this year, Pereira became the first Singaporean woman to win both the 100m and 200m events at the same edition of the SEA Games; then followed that up with a sprint double at the Asian Athletics Championships in July.

    In August, Pereira became the first Singaporean to make a World Championships semi-finals after a stellar showing in the 200m. She also met the qualifying mark for the event at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

    Prior to this year's Asian Games, Pereira had been targeting medals in the 100m and 200m.

    Now, she has done just that, and then some.

    Catch the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 LIVE with 6 dedicated channels on mewatch. Sign in now at mewatch.sg/asiangames to catch all the action for FREE, or catch highlights on Mediacorp Entertainment on YouTube.
     
  15. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Tearful Shanti Pereira says it’s a ‘so crazy, incredible season’ after historic 200m Asian Games gold
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    Shanti Pereira with her gold medal on the podium at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
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    Kimberly Kwek
    UPDATED
    7 HOURS AGO

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    HANGZHOU – Shanti Pereira is squatting on the track at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Singapore flag draped over her as she buried her face in her hands crying, staying there for 10 seconds.

    She had won the women’s 200m at the Asian Games in 23.03sec and when she finally understood what had happened, Asia’s fastest woman in the event needed a moment of stillness to process the magnitude of what she had achieved.

    In the final on Monday, the 27-year-old finished ahead of China’s Li Yuting (23.28sec) and defending champion Edidiong Ofonime Odiong (23.48sec), ending the Republic’s 49-year wait for an athletics gold medal.

    “I just passed the finish line and I knew I won and I was like what a season this has been, it’s been so crazy,” said an emotional Pereira at the mixed zone, choking up at times during the interview.

    “I immediately teared up. It means a lot, it means a lot. I never thought I would be here but I am.

    “I can’t really describe what I’m feeling right now, it’s so much joy. I have so many people to thank – everyone knows who they are. It’s been incredible.”

    She had gone into the final as the top qualifier with her heats time of 23.14sec and was seen as the leading contender.

    There was drama as the race had to be restarted after Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser, the 2019 world champion in the 400m, was disqualified for a false start, adding to the tension of the night.

    But Pereira was unaffected and as she settled back into the starting blocks, all that went through her mind was “execute, execute, execute”.

    Then she ran the race of her life, beating a field that included 2014 winner Olga Safronova of Kazakhstan and Bahraini Odiong, who had bagged the 100m-200m double in 2018.

    After posing for some photos, Pereira ran to the other side of the stadium, flag raised while she greeted the Singapore supporters seated in the stands.

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    Shanti Pereira celebrates after claiming the women’s 200m title at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
    This is the crowning achievement in what has been a stunning season for the Singaporean, who on Saturday claimed the 100m silver.

    In addition to her Asiad medals, Pereira’s accolades in 2023 include golds in the 100m and 200m at the Cambodia SEA Games and Asian Athletics Championships, as well as meeting the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifying mark.

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    Shanti Pereira races into history books for Singapore
    Singapore’s athletics fraternity hail Shanti Pereira’s performance as ‘one for the ages’

    But it has not been an easy journey for the sprinter, who endured a difficult period of self-doubt as her times stagnated after she burst onto the scene at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore where she won the 200m crown.

    Pereira has been candid about her struggles and continues to do so. When a minder in the mixed zone told her she had one minute, she bargained for five, wanting more time to describe this athletic pursuit.

    She said: “There’s a lot of respect for everybody out there. We’re all on this very incredible journey, just racing and finding ourselves as well so that was a big thing that happened for me.

    “I really fell in love with this sport again last year and this year and I’m just embracing every opportunity I get, including this one.”

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    Shanti Pereira: How Singapore’s finest sprinter found her speed

    Her coach Luis Cunha, who had been watching the race from the warmup track at a nearby stadium, was proud of what Pereira had achieved.

    She had come into the continental meet with eight of the top 10 times this season by an Asian runner in the event – now nine after Monday’s race – but she still had to perform on the night, he noted.

    The Portuguese said: “For this championships, the most important thing was not time but classification – we knew she was the favourite but she needed to go there and deliver...

    “The entire season was perfect and to finish it with a gold in the Asian Games is something incredible.”

    He said: “I feel blessed to be part of her journey. It’s a journey that inspires Singaporeans. Now she’s going to be on the podium, the national anthem is going to play. It’s more important for Singapore than me.”

    It was a wave of emotions for Pereira after the victory and one prominent one that stood out was relief.

    She added: “Especially this particular race because it’s been such a long season. I’m just excited to rest and reset.”



    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    In Pictures: Shanti Pereira wins gold in 200m at Asian Games
    Making peace with herself has helped S'pore sprint queen Shanti Pereira win
     
  16. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore’s athletics fraternity hail Shanti Pereira’s performance as ‘one for the ages’
    3 of 5
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    Shanti Pereira's feat will not only inspire athletes to keep trying, but is also a great lesson for coaches. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
    Ervin Ang
    UPDATED
    2 HOURS AGO

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    SINGAPORE – A performance for the ages. Mind-boggling. Smashed it. The descriptions were as varied as they were consistent. Everyone within the Singapore track and field community and beyond were blown away by what Shanti Pereira had done at the Asian Games on Monday night.

    Singapore Athletics president Lien Choong Luen described her victory in the 200m, the country’s first Asiad athletics title since Chee Swee Lee’s gold at the 1974 Games, as “one for the ages”.

    He added: “Forty-nine years ago, Swee Lee blitzed the 400m, and now we have our next gold medal.

    “We’ve seen consistent improvements in her performances from the Hanoi SEA Games to this year’s World Championship semi-finals.

    “Invaluable in this journey were coach Luis (Cunha) as well as her family and friends, but most importantly, her own self-belief.”

    Former national sprinter U.K. Shyam, whose 100m record was broken by Marc Louis last Saturday, was in full agreement at how Pereira, 27, has raised the bar.

    He said: “I wasn’t surprised that she got the gold. It’s a new paradigm in Singapore sprinting and athletics. Her season is nothing short of spectacular, and it’s mind-boggling. It’s amazing, I never thought that we would see this in my lifetime.”

    Retired sprinter C. Kunalan, 80, who has one silver and four bronzes from the Asian Games, flagged Pereira’s tears of joy and gratitude during the medal ceremony.

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    Shanti Pereira during the medal ceremony at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
    He said her feat will not only inspire athletes to keep trying, but is also a great lesson for coaches.

    Breaking down the race, he said: “She was calm at the start. Leading all the way, that is fantastic.

    “The last 30m was strong. The slow motion (replay) showed her heels were high at the butt during the last 30 to 40m.”

    Dipna Lim-Prasad, 32, who holds four national records, reacted with two words – “smashed it” – once Pereira crossed the finish line.

    “It’s even more amazing when you consider the marathon of a season she’s had. It’s testament to many things, our athletes, but also the support system that has been a solid foundation for them,” she said.

    “Our team have shown they have been working hard and the results show it. Not to forget Marc’s 100m national record, which is a huge milestone also. Last Asian Games, we had only one athlete who qualified for the finals. Now, we have more.”

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    Tearful Shanti Pereira says it’s a ‘so crazy, incredible season’ after historic 200m Asian Games gold
    Shanti Pereira races into history books for Singapore

    For national marathoner Soh Rui Yong, 32, Pereira’s sporting career has been a lesson in perseverance.

    He said: “Having first met Shanti in 2014 in Oregon when she was there for World Juniors as a bespectacled, nervous teenager who seemed to love shopping more than sprinting, her journey has been one of finding oneself.

    “She’s today a confident, motivated athlete able to thrive on pressure rather than letting it break her down, like it did between 2017 and 2018.”

    Both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tharman Shanmugaratnam sent their congratulations.


    President Tharman said in a Facebook post: “Shanti shows what we can achieve. With personal guts and determination. First class coaches. Strong and patient support from our national bodies. And a population cheering for our sportspersons.”


    The future is certainly bright, noted Lien, adding: “I hope this gold medal will inspire a new generation of young girls and boys watching her that we can be world beaters too... even in the most competitive disciplines of track and field.”

    • Additional reporting by Melvyn Teoh
    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    A golden lesson from Shanti: Winning is within our reach
    Shanti Pereira: How Singapore’s finest sprinter found her speed
     
  17. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore’s Stephenie Chen wins Asian Games silver in kayak 500m
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    Singapore's Stephanie Chen wins a silver in the women’s kayak single 500m at the Asian Games on Tuesday. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
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    Rohit Brijnath
    Assistant Sports Editor
    UPDATED

    OCT 3, 2023, 8:09 PM SGT

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    HANGZHOU – At practice most weeks, Stephenie Chen will strap a 35kg weight around her waist, reach for the bar and do pull-ups. It’s not her favourite thing but it’s a necessary thing. It points to her strength of body but also of purpose. Always she wants to be better and on Tuesday at the picturesque Fuyang Water Sports Centre, the 31-year-old kayaker demonstrated the very best version of herself.

    At the start of the women’s singles K1 500m, her boat flew out of the starting gate like a red arrow. The finish line was the target. By the end, her windmilling arms exhausted, she had won silver, the first of that colour by a Singaporean kayaker and only the second medal overall after Mervyn Toh’s bronze in 2018.

    Up in the stands in Hangzhou her parents watched as their child’s hard work found a glittering conclusion. “Overwhelmed,” said her mother Yvonne. “It’s an honour,” said her father Michael, “to have a daughter who trains so hard and puts all her effort and focus into training.” In fact, many of his daughters were kayakers and for 20 years Michael drove a taxi so that he could drop them to their early-morning practice. This was love and now it had found the best reward.

    China’s Li Dongyin won the race in 1min 58.931sec and Iran’s Hediye Kazemi took bronze in 2:00.635. But for a sizeable part of the race it was Chen, who finished in 2:00.074, who led. Going out hard was the plan and as her sister, Andrea, a former kayaker, said, “This is the best start we’ve seen her execute at a major Games.”

    The start was a tactic and it led to a hilarious answer from a relaxed Chen. “I race the best when I’m in front. And the idea was just to get out there and scare the s*** out of everyone else. I think I did that. And towards the end, it was mainly just not hanging on for dear life, but a little bit.” And then she laughed.

    Kayakers don’t look around, their focus is forward, but when Chen later reviewed the race she was astonished. “I did not know that I was that far in front.” Later, she added, “I can’t believe that I challenged China that well. I know my front half is strong. And my back end is where I need to work on.”

    Work has been Chen’s anthem all her life. She breathes kayaking, sweats for it, aches for it. Her mother had said, “In life, if you don’t have a passion, you can’t achieve much” and her daughter embodies that idea. As one of Singapore’s young kayakers, Jovi Jayden Kalaichelvan, mentioned, “She is a very serious athlete.”

    Chen, whose coach David Smith wore her medal, has laboured like most athletes in anonymity. She has bench-pressed dutifully (she’s doing 90-95kg now), forsaken time with her family and painfully given up what she loves. Like spicy fish soup.

    Said Suzanne Seah, her former K2 500m partner, “Whenever we go to a restaurant in Singapore we order one big bowl of spicy fish soup and the two of us can finish it. But she hasn’t eaten spicy food for the last year because every time she eats it she cannot train properly. So she gave up so many things that she loves, just for this.”

    Chen, whose will resembles the iron she lifts, said, “I’m used to it, just like grinding and grinding and grinding it out”. But perhaps it took a subtle change in mindset in this area to invigorate her. She was so focused on grinding, a single-minded monk in pursuit of a distant goal, that she forgot to enjoy racing.

    The last time she raced was in spring and “from April up till now it was just grind”. And then, she says, during the world championships in August, “I was watching people race and I was like, whoa, they look like they’re having so much fun. I was like, hmmm, maybe it’s time to remember how much I enjoy racing instead of just fighting to die at training”.

    Did it help? Yes, she said. All that grinding and muscle and technique and now joy, together released into the waters of Hangzhou. It was enough to surprise a Chinese rower initially and sufficient to put her where she’s wanted to go. The podium, on which she gently wept.

    In the three last Asian Games, she was seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth and now, finally and fabulously, second. “I’ve always had a stepping stone mentality,” she said. “Like you said, seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth, that’s like literally steps.”

    Then, medal in callused hand, Chen walked away to doping control, a woman whose fidelity to her craft has found validation. But knowing her, in a few weeks she’ll be back in the shed at the Sports Hub and reaching for the pull-up bar.

    Do you still hate it?

    “I still hate it,” she laughed.

    But then she’ll grip it, and like she did on Tuesday, she’ll rise higher.

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    Tearful Shanti Pereira says it’s a ‘so crazy, incredible season’ after historic 200m Asian Games gold
    ‘I don’t practise getting fourth’: At a painful Asian Games, Letitia Sim bravely passed every test
     
  18. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore table tennis player Izaac Quek scalps 18th-ranked Alexis Lebrun at WTT event
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    Izaac Quek will meet China’s world No. 6 Liang Jingkun in the round of 16 on Friday. PHOTO: ITTF
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    David Lee
    Sports Correspondent
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    11 HOURS AGO

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    HANGZHOU – After an early exit from the Asian Games, Singapore’s top table tennis player Izaac Quek bounced back from his disapppointment and got back to winning ways at the WTT Star Contender Lanzhou, China.

    In Hangzhou last Thursday, the 17-year-old was prematurely knocked out of the Asiad men’s singles round of 32 by Iran’s 130th-ranked Amir Hossein Hodaei.

    Six days later at the World Table Tennis tournament, he survived a comeback from China’s world No. 101 Chen Yuanyu to win 3-2 (11-7, 11-9, 10-12, 3-11, 11-5) before defeating 18th-ranked Frenchman Alexis Lebrun 3-2 (9-11, 9-11, 11-7, 15-13, 11-9) for the biggest win of his career.

    Quek will meet China’s world No. 6 Liang Jingkun in the round of 16 on Friday. In the WTT event structure, Star Contender tournaments are behind only Grand Smashes, Cup Finals, and Champions series.

    The US$250,000 (S$343,000) Lanzhou tournament features stars such as China’s Asian Games quadruple champion Wang Chuqin, triple champ Sun Yingsha and legend Ma Long.

    World No. 65 Izaac told The Straits Times: “(Lebrun) is the highest-ranked opponent I have beaten and it feels amazing to win some matches also because my form hasn’t been that good in the last few events.

    “At the Asian Games, I didn’t play well and lost during crucial moments in which I was too nervous and scared to play my own game. But that loss helped me adjust my mentality and focus here. The big crowds in Hangzhou also helped me adapt in Lanzhou, and I managed to execute my strategies well in crucial points here.

    “I didn’t expect these wins but they have helped me regain my confidence as I have not had a good tournament in quite a long time.”

    National assistant coach Zhang Zhen said the teenager did well to stay calm against a local player who was nervous and grew into the game.

    He added: “In the second match, against a very strong player, Izaac did not capitalise on opportunities early on, but managed to adapt his mentality and technique in time to fight back for the win.”

    Quek has enjoyed a meteoric rise in 2023.

    He was ranked 242nd when he beat India’s world No. 51 Sharath Kamal Achanta to become the first local to win in the Singapore Smash men’s singles main draw in March, and followed up with a stunning victory over Sweden’s 36th-ranked Mattias Falck, the 2019 World Championships men’s singles runner-up.

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    Asian Games: Singapore table tennis teams stopped by India again
    Asian Games profile: Paddle to the mettle

    While still 16 in June, Quek became the youngest SEA Games’ men’s singles champion, adding to the men’s doubles and team triumph for a golden hat-trick. In July, he became the first local-born Singaporean man to reach 60th in the men’s singles world rankings, before the Asiad slip-up.

    National men’s coach Gao Ning said: “Izaac was not bad at the Asian Games, it was just that in certain moments he lacked variation in some games and did not handle some aspects well. As a result, there were some upheavals in his mental game.

    “He has done well to prove himself in Lanzhou despite a tough draw against strong rivals early on, and we will continue to work on developing and improving his game.”

    Meanwhile, in the women’s singles, Zeng Jian beat compatriot Goi Rui Xuan to reach the round of 32, where she was eliminated by South Korea’s Joo Cheon-hui. In the women’s doubles, Wong Xin Ru and Goi lost 3-2 to Hong Kong’s Ng Wing Lam and Li Ching Wan in the round of 16.

    MORE ON THIS TOPIC
    SEA Games 2023: Zeng Jian and Izaac Quek win first table tennis singles titles
    SEA Games 2023: Zhou Jingyi impresses despite table tennis women’s singles q-final loss
     
  19. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore’s Best Football Team is Japanese
    Singapore’s Best Football Team is Japanese (ricemedia.co)

    by Saw Yone YoneOctober 6, 2023


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    Image courtesy of Albirex Niigata FC

    Tadanari Lee stands in the middle of a football field. The astroturfed 2,700-seater Jurong East Stadium is modest, but the veteran doesn’t mind. He might reminisce about the times he kicked off games at Southampton’s St. Mary’s Park or under the snow-covered grandeur of Saitama Stadium, but he’s fine where he is now.

    He’s about to kick off a match between his team, Albirex Niigata, and Hougang United.

    The 37-year-old player with (arguably) the most illustrious career in Singapore Premier League history fixates on the ball. The buzzing from the stands stills. The electronic scoreboard, comically oversized compared to the humble seating gallery below, begins counting down. Lee exhales. With a swift practised motion, he passes the ball to his teammate. The crowd roars.

    From the stands, you can almost touch the players. You see them spurting water over themselves and hear them shouting in English and Japanese. Albirex’s manager, Kazuaki Yoshinaga, sits, scrutinising the game as a tiger does its prey; Hougang United’s manager, Marko Kraljević, yells instructions and rushes to return stray balls.

    The game feels tangible, more so than on TV or in the National Stadium galleries. It’s so tangible that the ball hurtles into the stands. It’s caught by a quick-witted samaritan behind me, prompting cheers from the crowd. My smartwatch beeps—my heart rate just spiked.

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    Image courtesy of author
    What you can’t get on StarHubTV+
    Albirex’s attractive football intoxicates. It’s fast-flowing, with Albirex hoarding the ball and swiftly directing it towards the opponent’s goal, resulting in a flurry of goal opportunities. Upon losing the ball, the players are disciplined yet frenetic, hounding Hougang like a pack of wolves.

    Albirex fans acclaim every progressive pass and attempt at goal. When Tadanari Lee misses a header, the crowd groans before chanting ‘Lee, Lee, Lee!’ to convey their appreciation. In return, the players applaud supporters during breaks in play.

    Even defensive actions are celebrated. When Asahi Yokokawa, Albirex’s 21-year-old captain, heads away a dangerous ball, fans cheer as if it were a goal. Fans being fans, there’s banter: when Hougang’s Jordan Vestering fouls an Albirex player, nearby fans taunt, ‘You’re not even the best Jordan in Singapore!’

    I’m sitting with Muhammed Haziq Hafizhan, who runs the Albirex fan group, Swan Army, with his brother. The name comes from Albirex’s adoption of swan motifs: the Japanese port city of Niigata is a popular stopover for swans.

    Haziq is relentless. When Albirex concedes a free kick, the 18-year-old rallies supporters with a spirited ‘Defence!’ chant while orchestrating kids to beat the drums.

    He tells me that there is a bias against Albirex as a ‘foreign club’ regarding fouls.

    “But Albirex doesn’t fight back, instead playing so well that we win anyways,” he grins.

    When I met Haziq before the game, he looked turtle-like, lugging oversized bags spilling with drums, flags, and a cardboard trophy. He wore an orange—Albirex’s official colour—fanmade jersey with ‘Swan Army’ and ’12’ emblazoned behind. Haziq explains how the club left number 12 unoccupied because “the fans are the 12th man”.

    As we talk, enthusiastic kids approach Haziq for high-fives. Haziq hugs and daps everyone up: the marshalls, the fans, the coaches leading the warmups, former youth players coming back to spectate, even Hougang United fans.

    I join him in the stands to set up his support gear—his brother does the same at the grandstand opposite. Off the field, Haziq pumps out social media content for the Swan Army’s 800-odd followers. His work has an impact: ‘Are you doing YouTube later?’ the kids crowding around him ask. They cheer when he says yes.

    Albirex’s number 5, Shunsaku Kishimoto, affectionately named Goji after Gojira (Godzilla), passes to Asahi, who embarks on a thunderous charge down the right flank. He catapults in a pinpoint cross towards the box, where the ball is then poked into the net by Albirex’s number 10, Seia Kunori. Haziq leaps from his seat, racing to the rails and waving his flag in a triumphant frenzy.

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    Image courtesy of author

    A Communal Carnival
    The half-time whistle was a much-needed breather for Hougang United. Albirex was up three goals.

    I head outside only to find a carnival atmosphere. Little pop-up shops offer soft drinks, beer, Japanese bento boxes, and nasi lemak by Albirex’s Singaporean goalkeeping legend Hassan Sunny. His grinning face on the poster was my first glimpse of him; Hougang hadn’t had a shot on target.

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    Image courtesy of author

    J-pop blares from the speakers. The festive ambience extends to the stands. The nearby Pizza Hut outlet is enjoying a field day with countless children clutching pizza boxes.

    Most of the kids are wearing Albirex Singapore Football Academy kits. Academy and cheer school members enjoy free admission while seniors and students enjoy price concessions, encouraging families to enjoy matchdays as weekend outings.

    A family-friendly atmosphere means a more muted response as opposed to boisterous football ultras. But it’s also approachable, like a family diner instead of a disorderly pub. Ultimately, sport is universal—even mildly interested parents can turn into fanatics.

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    An Albirex supporter showing off his crocheted swan. Image courtesy of author

    Albirex’s cheer school students dazzle the crowd with their pom-poms. Albirex reaches out to Japanese expats through their Soccer School and Cheer School, while their Football Academy caters to locals.

    There’s also the Yuhua-Albirex Football Academy, which provides affordable training programmes for the Yuhua community. Haziq is a member of this academy and recounts accompanying the players as a match mascot.

    “Twice a year, the whole first team will come down to play with the academy kids. No other team in Singapore does that,” says Haziq.

    “When you watch Ronaldo or Messi, you can’t meet them, but you can talk to every player here,” laughs Amir Hamizan, Haziq’s 26-year-old brother who runs the fan club with him.

    “After every victory, the team performs a loco loco dance with the fans. The kids love it.”

    Amir details how Albirex maintains a close relationship with its fans.

    “When we asked about starting a fan club, the management was supportive. You look at big clubs like Manchester United—management and fans don’t see eye-to-eye,” Amir continues.

    “Banners and flags might not be allowed by the FAS (Football Association of Singapore), but the club backed the fans.”

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    Image: Stephanie Lee for RICE Media

    Give and Take
    With Albirex being the only big team in Singapore’s West side, much of their local fanbase hails from the area. The team ingratiates themselves to the community through grassroots outreach.

    “Recently, we went to Westspring Secondary School,” says Dominic Wong, the 26-year-old team manager. “We coached their students and invited them to a home game.”

    “The team does charity work,” Haziq exclaims. “’The team gives hampers to the less fortunate. They do community cleaning. They help with Yuhua CC’s Charity Walk for Rice.”

    These efforts raise the team’s visibility and compensate for their perceived ‘foreignness’.

    “’Instead of foreign clubs (except Albirex, who has been around and did their best in the local community), I rather have more local clubs with more foreigners to bring up the quality of the league,” reads one message in The Final Whistle, a Telegram group chat for local football games.

    “Other clubs should be closer to their communities,” Amir ponders.
     
  20. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    To be fair, there are similar efforts by other clubs with comparable fan support. Lion City Sailors collaborates with Tasek Jurong—it’s part of why President Tharman recently visited them. Tampines Rovers does similar outreach at secondary schools.

    But this needs to be strengthened further. While it’s natural for some clubs to have more fans, the smaller clubs must retain strong support within their geographical vicinity.

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    Image: Stephanie Lee for RICE Media

    “It’s not entirely the clubs’ fault,” says Amir. “When FAS made clubs share stadiums, it uprooted these clubs from their communities.”

    Case in point: Albirex shares Jurong East Stadium with Tanjong Pagar United, even though Tanjong Pagar itself is an optimistic half-hour away via MRT. That said, even before this stadium-sharing initiative, match attendance was already dwindling.

    Albirex is well aware that their foreignness will only compound criticism, which explains why they cultivate strict team-wide discipline. Players can’t colour their hair, for example. Hassan Sunny shared an anecdote on the Silver Fox podcast about Coach Yoshinaga holding a team meeting after a vaping scandal at another club to ensure it will never happen at Albirex.

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    Image: Stephanie Lee for RICE Media

    Professionalism attracts sponsors. The stadium side netting adorns various logos from Kirin, a Japanese beer company, to Salonpas, a local analgesic patch company, to even chemical companies like Denka.

    Albirex designates sponsor days, like the bizarre-sounding Salonpas Day. During half-time, they have a promotion for a free towel with every two cups of Kirin.

    “The ads work,” laughs Amir. The financial support sustains Albirex when similar satellite clubs from clubs like Beijing Guoan or Dalian Shide have long since folded.

    While most Singapore Premier League clubs received subsidies of $800,000 last year, Albirex is said to receive less as a foreign club. Commercial sponsorships bridge the gap, and they have been zealous—the club’s webpage lists over 50 partners, quintupling the amount that most other Singaporean teams have.

    Albirex’s Japanese connection helps, but their example should be followed in a league that desperately needs private investment.

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    Image: Stephanie Lee for RICE Media

    Constellation of Stars
    The match continues feverishly, though player fatigue leads to disorganised play. Neither team sustains possession as players scramble the ball away from each other, like teenagers mashing the tackle button on FIFA.

    Amidst the chaos, Tadanari’s quality shines. His dribbles are cleaner; his passes more precise. He doesn’t sprint—he glides across the pitch, conserving energy for moments to leave his indelible mark.

    He executes a backpass to a teammate, resulting in a desperate tackle from the opposing team, which draws a foul. His teammate delivers the free kick towards the box, and Tadanari glances upwards like a meerkat before deftly lobbing the soaring ball into the net. Four-nil now.

    Tadanari drops onto one knee, arches his back and mimics firing an arrow into the sky. It’s his signature pose: the same move he used after his acrobatic last-minute volley against Australia in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup finals. That winning goal forever etched his name into Japanese football history.

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    Tadanari Lee in action. Image courtesy of Albirex Niigata FC
    The team excitedly huddles around Tadanari despite it being their fourth goal of the match. They are that persistent.

    That attitude is exemplified by Albirex’s number 14, Shodai Yokoyama, who runs up and down the pitch like a dynamo. Among the team, he’s known to be the first in and last out of practice.

    “We Japanese hate losing,” the 22-year-old midfielder tells me. “I lost often during secondary school. That experience is why I practise hard.”

    Training is difficult, especially for Japanese players unaccustomed to Singapore’s humidity. Coach Yoshinaga is demanding, but he cares for his players. His attention to detail borders on micromanagement.

    Albirex players, most of whom are sourced from colleges in Japan, say football in Singapore is more challenging and physical than university football. They bring up Maxime Lestienne from the free-spending Lion City Sailors, a Belgian import who, years ago, scored against Manchester United in the Champions League.

    The responses I hear today differ from Albirex players of years past, who noted how Singapore’s football standard is ‘not very high’.

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    Shunsaku ‘Goji’ Kishimoto. Image: Stephanie Lee for RICE Media

    It isn’t just competitive desire. There are career pressures: “I received no local offers after university,” Goji says. “I could pursue my dream thanks to this offer from Singapore.”

    “I had the opportunity to train with a J League side, but I got injured,” Shodai concurs. “This is the only choice.”

    The pressure is heavy, especially when they’re on single-year contracts to prove they can make it. “This year, my focus is to improve my skills,” says Goji. “I want to show my play in matches and training because you can never be sure who might be watching.”

    The players try to enjoy their year in Singapore. “On my off days, if I’m not resting for competitions, I’d go out and eat,” Goji enthuses. “My favourite is the chicken rice at Lau Pa Sat.”

    “Mine is satay at Lau Pa Sat and East Coast Park,” Shodai adds. They mention team excursions for meals and bowling, which builds team cohesion with the Singaporean players.

    The team offers the Japanese players communal accommodations at a condominium block nearby. The team manager, Dominic, helps players with their day-to-day matters, like visa concerns or setting up bank accounts.

    “I miss my family, my friends,” Goji remarks.

    His face hardens. “But this is the path I chose for myself, so I will go through with it.”

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    Shodai Yokoyama. Image: Stephanie Lee for RICE Media

    Amongst these bastions of stoicism, though, is the hot-headed fan-favourite often used as an impact substitute player: the diminutive curly-haired 23-year-old Riku Fukashiro. Upon entering the pitch, a makcik hollers his name. Immediately, he unleashes a shot that hits the crossbar.

    Riku is absolutely electric, injecting energy into the game as he darts up and down. He sidesteps a defender with the nimble footwork of a ballerina. He propels the ball forward, rousing cheers.

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    Riku confronts the Hougang United defenders. Image courtesy of Albirex Niigata FC

    “He did a rainbow flick last time,” exclaims a fan behind me. “Like Neymar!”

    What he lacks in finesse compared to the Brazilian superstar, Riku compensates with doggedness. This tenacity is a double-edged sword: Riku confronts the referee when he doesn’t call a foul on a Hougang tackle, needing to be pulled away by teammates.

    Riku shoots. The ball rebounds off the keeper, landing at Kunori’s feet. Kunori crosses, sending the ball floating towards Tadanari. The veteran does not miss, making it the fifth goal for Albirex.

    The Ship of Theseus
    Local youth players Hilman and Shakthi are subbed in at the 85th minute as the game abates.

    “The Japanese players are supportive, always giving feedback,” Hilman tells me.

    “It was hard communicating at first, so I learnt some Japanese. I can speak simple English and Japanese during games for basic terms like ‘left’ or ‘right’. While I’m not close, I can talk to them when needed.”

    (Hilman isn’t the only one picking up Japanese—team manager Dominic beams about his productive use of SkillsFuture credits)

    Hilman dribbles through the midfield. “I’m so glad he’s still signed for next year,” a fan behind me declares.

    Next year marks a significant shift beyond Hilman: Albirex is fully localising.
     

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