As the 18th ASEAN University Games (AUG) came to close on Tuesday night at the National University of Singapore, the Singapore contingent improved upon their performance in Palembang tremendously by notching up 24 gold medals compared to the previous four.
Singapore finished 5th on the table, with Thailand and Indonesia coming in first and second with 121 and 115 medals respectively.
Dr Tan Eng Liang hands the flag over to the Myanmar representative during the Closing Ceremony of the ASEAN University Games at National University of Singapore. Photo: Sport Singapore
It was the Republic's best showing since they last hosted the AUG 22 years ago, this time winning 73 medals in total, consisting of 24 gold, 19 silver and 30 bronze medals.
Team Singapore canoeist Mervyn Toh was undoubtedly the star of the Singapore contingent as he was the most bemedalled athlete with 5 golds.
“I am very happy with it and definitely, I think it's a very good sign for Singapore canoeing. Overall, it's a very good competition,” the SEA Games gold medalist said.
Performers during the Closing Ceremony of the ASEAN University Games. Photo: Sport Singapore
But more so than winning medals, what stuck with him the most was making friends from other countries.
“The thing about the AUG is that everyone here has a less focused mindset so they are more open to interacting with other countries,” he said.
“For us, we managed to make friends with quite a few of the canoeists from other countries. We were able to get along well with the Indonesians and the Thais.”
“After the whole event, some of my teammates exchanged their pins and some attire, and also they got in touch with each other on social media.”
Chairman of the AUG Organising Committee Dr Tan Eng Liang has high hopes for the future of local sports after Singapore's performance this time round. And it's not just due to the developing talent pool but also because of the support ecosystem for athletes that has been built over the past years.
Dr Tan Eng Liang speaks during the Closing Ceremony. Photo: Sport Singapore
“In any country, the talent pool is important. If you have the talent pool, you must have the facilities. You must have all the supporting elements [including] a good coach. And most importantly, fantastic parental support,” he said.
“And I think we have a combination of them. We have support from Sport Singapore: SSI (Singapore Sports Institute), your scholarships and your grants. So we have all the elements for a committed sports person to try their level best to reach the highest level.”