Team Singapore's Chefs de Mission Dr Tan Eng Liang (L) and Nicholas Fang wave the national flag (Photo Credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee / Action Images via Reuters)
At a games which surpassed all expectations, Team Singapore’s athletes showed the Republic is “punching above its weight” in sport said joint Chefs de Mission Mr Nicholas Fang.
A historical haul of 259 medals - 84 gold, 73 silver and 102 bronze - was a better performance than even the most optimistic of observers had predicted. Team Singapore’s competitors combined to break 25 games records and set 28 new national records.
“Singapore has definitely punched above its weight in these Games. If you look at population size, we are ranked ninth in Southeast Asia and yet we are able to fight among the top three places, it says a lot about the performance of the teams and the athletes and the sort of preparation that has been done,” he said.
For Tan Eng Liang, joint Chefs de Mission, the results were also a sign of progress towards even bigger goals.
“The SEA Games is one stop in a series of major events that leads to the Olympics. We operate on a four year programme. These SEA Games successes hopefully will spur us on to do better,” he told reporters.
The second place in the medal tally is the highest ranking the Republic has achieved since the 1975 South East Asian Peninsular Games in Thailand. Significantly the haul also improved on the 164 medals (50 gold, 40 silver and 74 bronze) from the last time the country held the Games, back in 1993.
Team Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (C) and his wife Ho Ching pose for a photo with Singapore athletes and staff after the medal ceremony (Photo Credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee / Action Images via Reuters)
The most successful performance in terms of total medal count came from teh swimming team which produced 23 golds, 12 silvers and seven bronzes, 42 medals overall. Joseph Schooling won an incredible nine gold medals while the tireless Quah Zheng Wen won 12 medals. The pair medalled in every event they competed in at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
On the track, the lasting image will be the delighted face of Shanti Periera after she won gold in the 200 metres, ending Singapore’s 42 year wait for a sprinting medal.
There were also a number of ‘firsts’ where Singapore broke through to win gold in a sport for the first time. The synchronised swimming team won their first ever gold in the Team Free Combination and Audrey Yong brought a first fold in windsurfing.
The canoeists won a record seven gold medals and crowds were delighted with the successes in a range of sports including netball, rhythmic gymnastics, Equestrian, wushu and squash.
Team Singapore's gold medallists celebrate with their medals (Photo Credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee / Action Images via Reuters)
And while there are no medals for fans, Singaporeans came in for plenty of praise from Tan and Fang for the way in which they, decked out in red, flocked to the nation’s arenas to cheer on their favourites.
“In terms of the support of Singaporeans - a lot of venues and in a lot of sports we saw unprecedented and definitely unexpected support,” said Fang.
“Certain venues were not ticketed because the expectation was that they were very far out of the way or not very commonly popular sports and they didn’t expect a large amount of people to be coming. Yet you saw queues that were snaking out of the venues, people were queuing up for hours to get in and see the sports and cheer Singapore on.
Singsoc had to make a number of last minute adjustments to accommodate all the Singaporeans and make sure that everybody had a chance to cheer for Team Singapore and I think that made a huge difference in the performance.”
“I think we saw many examples where the home ground support actually lifted our athletes beyond what they could normally deliver. They were inspired and they did not crumble under the pressure. They actually delivered above and beyond what we could have expected of them.