Singapore sports icon Annabel Pennefather dies aged 72

Singapore sports icon Annabel Pennefather dies aged 72

Singapore sports icon and lawyer Annabel Pennefather died on Monday (Apr 27) at the age of 72. A former national hockey player, she became the first woman to be elected as vice president of the SNOC in 2002, a position she held until she stepped down in 2018.

SINGAPORE: Singapore sports icon and lawyer Annabel Pennefather died on Monday (Apr 27) at the age of 72.

Ms Pennefather was a former vice president of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) and former president of the Singapore Hockey Federation, as well as a consultant in sports law at Withers KhattarWong.

A former national hockey player, she became the first woman to be elected as vice president of the SNOC in 2002, a position she held until she stepped down in 2018.

President of the SNOC Tan Chuan-Jin said the council was "deeply saddened" by Ms Pennefather's death.

"Annabel was one of the pioneer women sports administrators in Singapore and was very passionate in championing the Olympic movement and women in sports," Mr Tan said.

"Her contribution was not limited to Singapore." 

"We are grateful for all that she has poured in, and will miss her greatly," he added.

In a Facebook post on Monday, the Singapore Hockey Federation said Ms Pennefather had served as president of the federation from 2004 to 2012 and had brought the men's Junior World Cup to Singapore in 2009.

The federation described her as an "outstanding official" who "led the way internationally in officiating and administration".

She served as the technical delegate for the women's competition at the Olympic Games and also served as the vice president of the Asian Hockey Federation and the vice president of the International Hockey Federation.

"The hockey family has lost one of our icons, and we convey our deepest condolences to her family," the federation added.

Team Singapore said in a Facebook post on Monday that her "relentless pursuit of excellence transcended her sport".

"It was her gift to women and sport that she will be remembered most for," it wrote. 

"Her example of never giving up on your dreams carried on long after her playing career was over."

Ms Pennefather was awarded the Public Service medal in 2001 and the Publice Service Star in 2012 for her "devotion to volunteerism", Team Singapore added.

"She showed the female athlete it’s possible to strike a balance between sport and a career and she showed all athletes the importance of serving the country way after your playing days are over and she showed the community the importance of recognising Singapore’s forgotten female Olympians."

The Singapore Council of Women's Organisations (SCWO) said Ms Pennefather was a "pioneering sports administrator".

In a Facebook post on Monday, the council said Ms Pennefather was due to be inducted into the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame in March, but the ceremony was postponed to March next year due to the COVID-19 situation. She will be inducted then, the council said.

The Singapore Swimming Assocation said her impact "to the Singapore sporting community will never be forgetten".

The daughter of two national hockey players - her father captained Singapore at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne - Ms Pennefather started playing the sport at a young age. 

She represented Singapore in 1964 and would go on to play for the country for the next 15 years, until 1979.

In 1999, Ms Pennefather became the first woman to be co-opted into SNOC's executive committee, before she was elected vice president of the council in 2002. 

She served as the Chef de Mission for Singapore at the 2004 Olympics, the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and 2010, the 2006 Asian Games and the 2013 SEA Games.

As a lawyer, Ms Pennefather had a career that spanned more than 30 years, specialising in sports law, property law and international business transactions.

She was named Singapore's Woman of the Year in 2004, and also served as chairman of the CHIJ school board and vice president of the Law Society.

Source: CNA/ic(mi)

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