Asian Games: Singapore performed below expectations, but debutants bring hope

Asian Games: Singapore performed below expectations, but debutants bring hope

Feng Tianwei Asian Games
Feng Tianwei looking dejected in her round of 16 singles tie at the 2018 Asian Games. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

JAKARTA: Singapore's performance at the 2018 Asian Games was lower than expected, but the contingent's overall medal haul has been buoyed by emerging debutants, said the Singapore Sports Institute's Richard Gordon on Saturday (Sep 1). head of High Performance for Sport and Athlete Life at the Singapore Sport Institute, 

Speaking to media at a press conference wrapping the Games for Team Singapore in Indonesia on Saturday (Sep 1), the head of High Performance for Sport and Athlete Life said: "Overall I think we were lower than our initial expectations. Our expectations were to try and beat the (medal count from the) 2014 Games. We’ve fallen short of that."

As of Saturday afternoon, Singapore's medal count from Indonesia stood at four golds, four silvers and 14 bronzes. At the last edition of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, Singapore brought home five gold medals, six silvers and 13 bronzes. 

"However, it's not a simple yes or no. We've got to look at the stories behind the medals. We've got look at the stories behind the sports and competition. There were some places where we were up, other places where we were not," said Gordon. 

Team Singapore chef de mission Lee Wung Yew, however, maintained that the team "delivered an excellent showing" at the Games. 

Swimming - 2018 Asian Games
File photo: Singapore's Joseph Schooling competes in the men's 50m butterfly heats at the 2018 Asian Games. REUTERS/Jeremy Lee

"Our athletes showed no fear coming up against some of the world’s best athletes to fight for every point and victory. With a contingent formed largely of debutants, the results are very encouraging and hopefully, this indicates greater successes for them in the future," said the former Olympic shooter. 

Lee also announced that Team Singapore were given a "B" grade for this edition of the Asian Games. 

In spite of the rating, Gordon stressed that the team was going through a transition, particularly with younger athletes emerging to replace established stars. 

"There’ve been very encouraging performances in that regard ... the number of personal bests and national records we have broken by the emerging contingent coming through gives us good grounds for hope," said Gordon.  

He highlighted that debutants made up 75 per cent of Singapore's contingent and that of the athletes that received a medal, 75 per cent were debutants. 

Constance Lien
Constance Lien in action at the 2018 Asian Games. (Photo: Sport Singapore) 

As an example, Lee cited the achievements of the men's contract bridge team that clinched gold, and jujitsu exponent Constance Lien, who clinched silver. He also lauded the silat team, which clinched two silvers and three bronzes at the Games. 

When asked about why sports that Singapore were traditionally strong in won fewer medals, Gordon reasoned that the programme in Indonesia for sports like sailing and bowling was different from that at Incheon. 

Sailing won a gold and a bronze in Jakarta, a medal haul that paled in comparison with 2014 when the team brought home three golds, two silvers and two bronzes. 

"There have been been significant changes to the (sailing) programme. For example, many of the sailing classes in which we were very successful in 2014 are not in these Games," said Gordon. "For bowling, we’ve seen the reduction in the number of games and that has impacted our team." 

Asian Games Joey Yeo
Singapore national bowler Joey Yeo at the 2018 Asian Games. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

"Overall we feel that we have made some progress over 2014, though the headline figures showed we have one gold fewer and ... fewer medals, but its only by a small number," he added. 

Gordon maintained that the athletes have held up their positive performances from the 2015 SEA Games, and that the team is "going in the right direction". 

"This is a long-term project. We know it takes eight to 12 years to develop high-performance athletes. Its not something that's going to change overnight," he said. 

Source: CNA/am