Thio Gim Hock (11 March 1938 – 3 April 2020) became an Olympian in 1956 and was a multiple Asian Games medallist in water polo in 1958, 1962 and 1966. He enjoyed a twelve-year career as a leading goal scorer for the Singapore national team. From being a young, aspiring sixteen-year old, he established himself as a first-choice selection for the team. He also featured in the SEAP Games gold medal winning team in 1967.
Gim Hock was educated at Raffles Institute, a schoolmate of Dr Tan Eng Liang and Tan Eng Bock, and was initially a badminton player, who later switched to swimming and then to water polo. He trained at the Chinese Swimming Club (CSC), specialising in the freestyle and butterfly events.
At the CSC, he caught the attention of Kee Soon Bee. He started representing CSC in inter-club competitions at a time when Singapore was the leading water polo team in Asia. In 1954, the same year that Singapore won the Asian Games gold medal in water polo, Gim Hock was establishing his credentials as a potential national-level player. At the age of sixteen he was being groomed for future successes in the region. Gim Hock later paid tribute to Kee Soon Bee, as his ultimate role model and inspiration.
In 1956, he was to make his international debut at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. He played in the first-round game against Germany. The Asian Games in 1958 followed. Singapore won the silver medal in a hotly disputed final confrontation. The refereeing came into question. Gim Hock was responsible for scoring Singapore’s two goals, but Japan scored four. While it had been memorable to appear in the Olympic Games, it was more of a thrill for him to appear in the Asian Games final.
He was also a member of the team which won the bronze medal at the 4th Asian Games (1962) in Indonesia. Japan and Indonesia took the gold and silver medals respectively. The team also won the silver medal at the 5th Asian Games (1966) in Bangkok, ousting Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Singapore’s only loss came against Japan the gold medalists.
Gim Hock retired from water polo in 1967 at the age of 29. His final representative matches proved to be glorious personal displays. At the SEAP Games, held in Bangkok that year, Gim Hock scored five of the eight goals that brought a resounding victory against Malaysia (8-5) and secured the gold medal. In all he scored nine of the 18 goals that Singapore recorded in that competition.
On his return home, Gim Hock decided to retire from competitive water polo. As a family man with a new-born son he refocused his attention on work and nurturing the people around him. He eventually became the Chief Executive of the real estate company OUE and was well known as Christian evangelist.