By Nicolette Mok
Amidst the honours conferred on our leading Team Singapore athletes, the Singapore Sports Awards 2017 also emphasised how today’s achievements could play a role in inspiring tomorrow.
It was a star-studded affair graced by the who’s who of the Singapore sporting scene. The mood was a celebratory one with Ministers, Officials, NSA Presidents and Olympians – past and present – in attendance at the Ritz Carlton for the Singapore Sports Awards.
Held on the eve of National Day, there was a more poignant undertone to the event, which was themed “Inspiring Tomorrow” . Organised on the occasion of the Singapore National Olympic Council’s (SNOC) 70th anniversary, this year’s Awards also looked back on Team Singapore’s triumphs and highlighted how today’s achievements would serve as inspiration for generations to come.
As Deputy Prime Minister & Coordinating Minister for National Security and Patron of the SNOC, Teo Chee Hean said in his speech: “Tonight (Tuesday), I would like to acknowledge our progress in sports excellence, our growing support system for sports, and how sports contributes to a strong Singapore identity and spirit.”
“The Olympics is the pinnacle. To get there, our NSAs (National Sports Associations) and athletes have to scale the mountain, step by step,” DPM Teo pointed out.
He recounted how Singapore had to wait 48 years for a second Olympic medal following weightlifter Tan Howe Liang’s historic silver in 1960. After the table tennis team’s breakthrough with another silver in 2008, however, Singapore has medalled in every Games since, with Team Singapore swim king Joseph Schooling taking the country’s first gold medal in Rio last year.
“I would like to thank the generations of athletes, coaches, officials, and volunteers whose drive and passion have contributed so much to sports in Singapore,” he said.
Apart from DPM Teo, Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth Grace Fu, Minister for Social and Family Development and SNOC President Tan Chuan-Jin, and Tan Howe Liang himself were also among the dignitaries who turned up for the event.
Kicking off with the presentation of the Meritorious Awards, the ceremony witnessed several of Singapore’s best athletes receiving their prizes from our Olympic medallists – Li Jiawei, Feng Tianwei, Joseph Schooling, and Wang Yuegu. This was a symbolic passing of the baton.
Schooling, who also took home his fourth Sportsman of the Year award for his golden achievement at last year’s Olympics, relished his role as one of the more experienced Team Singapore athletes in the contingent for the upcoming KL SEA Games.
Sportsman of the year – Joseph Schooling
Enthusing about the opportunity to inspire his teammates, he said: “I’m happy and excited to play my part as a senior and to mentor the younger kids!”
“Winning any kind of medal at your first SEA Games [is] a truly astonishing feeling, and I want as many kids on our team to experience that joy and pride that I did [during my Games debut] in 2011,” Schooling continued.
The announcements of the main winners for the evening followed the Meritorious Awards, with honours being presented to the Best Sports Events of the Year (both international and local categories), Most Inspiring Sports Story of the Year, Best Sports Photo of the Year, and Coach of the Year.
Team Singapore canoeists Stephenie Chen and Geraldine Lee took home Team of the Year for their gold medal at the 2016 Asian Open Canoe Sprint Cup, a win that placed them 18th in the world in the Women’s K2 500m event.
Meanwhile, Team Singapore fencer Lau Ywen, whose gold medal at the 2016 Junior and Cadet World Fencing Championships made her the first Southeast Asian to achieve a podium finish at the event, won Sportsgirl of the Year.
Sportsgirl of the year – Lau Ywen
Sportsboy of the Year went to Team Singapore silat exponent Sheik Farhan, who is the current two-time defending world champion at the World Pencak Silat Championships.
Sportsboy of the year – Sheik Farhan
Both young athletes expressed delight at helping elevate the presence of their respective sports in the country, while Sportswoman of the Year and 2016 World Singles Bowling Championship silver medallist New Hui Fen hoped that her personal achievements would contribute to Team Singapore’s legacy of excellence.
She shared: “I got this recognition because I worked hard. It’s a positive cycle. You work hard, you get recognised, someone gets inspired, and then this other person works hard, gets recognised, and inspires someone else in turn!”
Sportswoman of the year – New Hui Fen
The full list of winners of the Singapore Sports Awards, both past and present, can be found at http://www.singaporeolympics.com/singapore-sports-awards.
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