SINGAPORE: Team Singapore’s largest away contingent in history won 53 gold medals at the 2019 SEA Games, crossing the 900th gold medal mark as it concluded its 2019 campaign.
Its medal haul of 53 gold, 46 silver and 68 bronze took its total medal tally to 167 with 51 medals coming from debutants at the Games, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) said in a press release on Wednesday (Dec 11).
It’s the third consecutive SEA Games where Team Singapore has achieved more than 50 gold medals, and athletes went on to set 15 Games records.
The 2015 edition remains Singapore’s best performing Games (84 gold, 73 silver and 102 bronze medals) while the 2017 edition (58 gold, 57 silver and 73 bronze medals) stands as Singapore’s best away Games, SNOC added.
“Since each Games edition offers a different sport programme, an overall medal comparison may not represent an objective analysis of Team Singapore’s performance. However, the SEA Games presents an opportunity to monitor the development of the sports that are on the Asian Games and Olympic Games pathway, and those which regularly feature at these Games,” the council said.
Team Singapore’s swimmers were among the top performers with 23 gold medals – equalling their best performance in 2015.
With 15 Games records, nine national records and 26 personal best timings, they also surpassed their away record of 19 golds in 2017, the council said.
Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen also clocked timings that qualified them for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The latter swept six gold and two silver medals to become the most bemedalled male athlete at the Games.
Singapore was top in fencing with the athletes raking in four gold, three silver and six bronze medals.
In golf, SEA Games debutant James Leow bagged a historic gold medal in the men’s individual event, Singapore's first title in the category in 30 years.
While there were 48 medals on offer in athletics, Singapore managed just three bronze medals through Veronica Shanti Pereira and Nur Izlyn Binte Zaini.
Commenting on the performance at the track, Mr Richard Gordon, who is head of high performance and athlete life at the Singapore Sport Institute, said: “For Singapore to remain competitive in the overall medal tally, we need to put ourselves in a position to be competitive in the athletics programme where there are at least 40 gold medals up for grabs.
"Singapore Athletics and the athletics fraternity have a role to play in ceasing the in-fighting to focus on the athletes. If this culture persists, progress is challenging.”
In team sports, the council said there were some “erratic performances”. It highlighted historic medals in softball and ice hockey, while noting the performances in water polo and table tennis where Singapore’s regional dominance was broken.
The “diversity of the 2019 programme” also included sports that are not often contested at the SEA Games, the council noted, highlighting the gold medal haul in underwater hockey and medals won in martial arts events.
Juliana Seow, chef de mission for Team Singapore at the Games, said: “Overall, Team Singapore had a great outing. Our athletes displayed grit and persevered in competition among the region’s best. Even the typhoon wasn’t able to dampen the strong team spirit our contingent displayed!"