Team Singapore had its flag presentation ceremony for the 28th SEA Games on 12 May 2015 at the OCBC Square, Singapore Sports Hub. photo: SINGSOC
As the 28th SEA Games draws closer, we bring you weekly highlights from news headlines splashed across the region’s sports back pages.
With topics that range from friendly internal rivalry to a super-sized contingent, this week’s news round-up is certainly indicative of Southeast Asia’s desire to give it their all for the 28th SEA Games.
Myanmar: Healthy rivalry ahead of international meet
The Myanmar Times
brings updates on the friendly clash between its U20 and U23 men’s football teams.
Both sides opted to field a variety of second-string players, in a bid to establish the best possible combinations ahead of their respective major competitions. The senior squad eventually won the match with a score of 3-1.
U23 coach Kyi Lwin has made plans for his charges to play more friendly matches in Serbia in preparation for the SEA Games. However, he is worried that these may not be actualised.
“Some of our training trips have been withdrawn and so we have lost out on a number of our preparation games. But we will make the best of the time and opportunities we have, we will improve the teamwork between the players and the management, and we will seek out a medal from the games. Anything is possible in football,” he quipped.
Thailand: Volleyball teams determined to defend titles
Also opting to pit their senior and junior sides against each other was the Thai women’s volleyball team.
The Bangkok Post
has revealed that the Volleyball Association of Thailand (VAT) had originally planned to send its second team to defend its SEA Games title in Singapore. This junior side had just competed at the Asian Women’s U23 Volleyball Championship last week, taking the first runner-up spot.
However, the VAT has decided that it will be sending its senior team instead, in a bid to increase their chances of bringing home the gold medal – their 12th, should they win again this year.
“Our U23 players look stronger than opponents at the SEA Games but I am not 100 percent confident that they will successfully defend the title at the tournament,” remarked VAT’s president Somporn Chaybangyang.
At present, the senior squad has another title to defend at the Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship in China, which commences next week. The top four teams to emerge from this tournament will move on to play in the 2016 Olympics qualifiers in Japan.
The men’s team, similarly, have been performing well, with hopes of winning their third consecutive regional title at the SEA Games as well, but they have expressed wariness of long-time rival Indonesia.
Philippines: Chef de mission expresses confidence in national athletes
Announcing his SEA Games objectives for the contingent, Philippines chef de mission Julian Camacho told the Manila Times
that he wanted more medals this year. The veteran sporting official was also confident that the national representatives would be able to exceed the country’s 2013 SEA Games medal haul.
“This is the best prepared, for the SEA games, that the Philippines has [been],” he declared.
In fact, he considered the men’s basketball team a shoo-in for the title, assuring the contingent of at least one gold medal at the regional Games. He also cited taekwondo, boxing, wushu, and judo as the nation’s top-performing sports.
Additionally, the former national athlete also hoped that the Philippines contingent will have an added “home crowd” advantage, as the Philippine Embassy in Singapore has voiced expectations for a crowd of “over 180,000 Filipinos” to be present at the Games, according to the article.
Malaysia: End of ban for former wushu world champion
Malaysia’s medal prospects have just taken a significant turn for the better, as wushu ace and 2013 nanquan world champion Tai Cheau Xuen will be back in the arena, according to The Star
Following the conclusion of a four-month ban imposed as a result of a doping offence, she has been training hard for her fifth SEA Games next month. It will also be her first competition post-ban.
Tai had obtained a gold medal at the Asian Games last year but was subsequently found to have ingested an illegal substance usually present in weight-loss products. The 23-year-old was stripped of her title and handed a four-month ban.
“I didn’t expect to get a chance to compete at the SEA Games. I thought my career was over after the ban. It was tough during the suspension, as I had nothing to do. But I was advised to keep fit by doing muscle-strengthening exercise on my own. I’m glad it’s over now and I’m going to the SEA Games,” she shared.
Singapore: Largest-ever contingent receives mandate to compete
Channel News Asia
brought coverage on Singapore’s flag presentation ceremony for the SEA Games. Attended by this year’s record-sized Team Singapore contingent, which boasts a total of 749 athletes and 342 officials, the event saw swimmer Quah Ting Wen and gymnast Hoe Wah Toon named as the nation’s flag bearer and pledge taker respectively.
Leading the proceedings were Singapore National Olympic Council President Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth Lawrence Wong, and Chefs de Mission Dr. Tan Eng Liang and Nicholas Fang.
Dr. Tan had led the country’s SEA Games contingent back in 1993 as well, when Singapore last hosted the regional meet. That edition, with its still-unrivalled 50-gold-medal haul, was the nation’s best Games performance to date. This year, Team Singapore will be hoping to surpass it.
"I would say that this team, in terms of preparation, from my experience, is perhaps the best. They've got everything. There are committed officials. So we expect that they should deliver some good results for us," Dr. Tan said.
Table tennis Olympic medallists Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu, along with Paralympic swimming champion Yip Pin Xiu, were also inducted into the nation’s prestigious Sports Hall of Fame during the event. Yip, notably, became the first para-athlete to be bestowed this honour, as revealed in Today
A tribute artefact, designed by Team Singapore athletes, was also unveiled in memory of the country’s late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
All opinions expressed by various news agencies in this article are not representative of that of SINGSOC.