We’ve got the heart-warming; we’ve got the hilarious. We’ve even got ones that might make you stand up and exclaim “Majulah Singapura”. With the year almost over, let’s take the time to look back on some of Singapore’s most memorable sporting moments of 2015.
SEA Games gold rush
It was just the fourth day of the 28th SEA Games but Singapore’s celebrations had well and truly begun, for swimmer Quah Zheng Wen’s victory in the 400-metre individual medley event gifted the nation with its 51st gold medal.
Surpassing the initial target and the country’s previous Games record of 50 gold medals with an eventual total of 84, Team Singapore’s class of 2015 certainly delivered, finishing second overall in the medal table.
Veronica Shanti Pereira makes history with her 100m sprint gold at the 28th SEA Games. Photo: SportSG
A lesson on failure
It didn’t prove to be quite as pleasing an outing for Filipino divers John David Pahoyo and John Elmerson Fabriga. The duo made waves with their spectacularly disastrous performances at the 28th SEA Games, though the region gained much more than just a hearty chuckle or two.
Botching both their attempts during the men’s three-metre springboard event, the duo caught the attention of Internet users worldwide, attracting both jeers and encouraging comments alike. Nevertheless, they took it in their stride and, in the process, showed us the importance of positive attitudes in the face of failure.
As Pahoyo later wrote in a post online, “I am still proud because not all of us has [sic] the privilege to represent our own country to [sic] such a big sporting event like this.”
Making history (again)
Just two months after winning all nine of his 28th SEA Games events, Singapore’s golden boy Joseph Schooling made history on the world stage at the FINA World Championships, helping to raise our flag there for the very first time.
The star swimmer had, in timely fashion, won a historic bronze medal in the 100-metre butterfly race a day ahead of Singapore’s 50th birthday. He also made the finals in his other two events, smashing a number of records along the way – including an Asian one in the 50-metre butterfly final.
Setting the stage for the APG
The successful hosting of the 28th SEA Games was not enough for Singapore. Rounding off an eventful jubilee year with one last major sports meet, the nation outdid itself – and its neighbours – with the 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG)
Kicking the festivities off with a symposium a day ahead of the APG, the regional delegates gathered to discuss how best to enhance inclusion in society through the promotion of para sports. Following in the lead of Singapore, future editions of the APG are also expected to organise similar symposiums.
The Games’ subsequent seven days showcased para sports on an unprecedented scale, complete with professional set-ups, extensive media coverage, enthusiastic crowds, and an army of volunteers.
Performers put on a dazzling performance at the Opening Ceremony of the 8th ASEAN Para Games at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Photo: SportSG
Turning point for para sport
Several Team Singapore heroes emerged from the 8th APG, wowing the nation with displays of sheer talent and grit. Cerebral Palsy football captain Khairul Anwar, in particular, stood out for his brilliant goals on the pitch.
Earning himself the honour of being the first Singaporean to ever score a hat-trick in the new National Stadium, the plucky Lion captured the imaginations of cynical local football fans, especially given the controversies currently surrounding his able-bodied counterparts.
Khairul’s hat-trick was indeed a pivotal point in the nation’s sporting history, when Singaporeans noticed the exceptional sporting prowess that our para athletes possessed.
Mohamed Zulkhairi Putera, or Zul, used to be an at-risk youth with undiscovered talents and a seemingly unattainable dream of becoming a track athlete. Upon joining Sport Singapore’s social foundation SportCares, however, the 14-year-old trained under the CareRunners programme and was eventually selected for a spot at the Singapore Sports School.
This April, he won the C Division 800-metre track event at the 56th National Inter-school Track and Field Championships. As one of SportCares’ first success stories, Zul’s inspiring achievement was evidence that one can indeed live better through sports.
The road ahead
Like Zul, this year’s crop of young athletes indicates that there will be much to crow about in Singapore’s sporting future. In fact, when 12-year-old Zachary Ian Tan broke Joseph Schooling’s age group record at the Singapura Finance 46th Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships this March, we knew that we were on to someone special.
He went on to pick up a handful of gold medals at his SEA Age Group Swimming Championships debut earlier this month, breaking a national record in the under-14 individual medley event as well.
Notably, the local para sports community, too, has its own young champion in nine-year-old boccia prodigy Aloysius Gan, who won a gold medal in the National Disability League this year. He was accorded the honour of lighting the cauldron for the 8th APG alongside household names Tay Wei Ming and Yip Pin Xiu – a powerful showcase of the sporting prospects that Singapore looks forward to in the years to come.