Singapore honours our sports pioneers

By |2014-10-11T20:49:06+08:00October 10th, 2014|Nation in Motion|1 Comment
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Story by Colin Tung. Photos by Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports

SportSG tribute to sports pioneers

Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, was the guest-of-honour for the tribute event which honoured sports pioneers for their contributions. (Photo 1 © Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports)

Singapore Sports Hub, OCBC Lounge, Thursday, October 9, 2014 — It was a mark of the occasion when, while interviewing 71-year-old Mr C Kunalan (once Singapore’s fastest man), Mr Tan Thuan Heng, 66, a former national swimmer and the first winner of the Sportsman of the Year award in 1968, came by and enquired the whereabouts of 1960 Olympic weightlifting silver medallist, Mr Tan Howe Liang, 81.

Mr Kunalan, Mr Tan Thuan Heng, and Mr Tan Howe Liang are all pioneers* of Singapore sports. Together with over 200 of their ilk who have left indelible footprints in Singapore’s sporting history, they, bar the elder Mr Tan, whose aching knees, according to Mr Kunalan, were bothering him, attended a dinner that was held in their honour.

The Singapore Youth Olympic Museum and Singapore Sports Museum were also officially opened the same evening.

Amongst them were luminaries such as 77-year-old Majid Arif (the only Singapore footballer to have played for the Asian All-Stars team in 1966 and one of only two Singaporeans — the other being Fandi Ahmad — to be nominated for the Asia’s Footballer of the Century Award), the 85-year-old founding lady of Singapore netball, Mrs Tan Yoon Yin, and the oldest sports pioneer in attendance, 96-year-old Gerard Clarke, a former hockey and cricket player.

Mr Kunalan had been the man charged with the responsibility of bringing them all together.

“My job was to find the pioneers so, a few months ago, I started, first through the National Sports Associations then through the (former) sportsmen themselves. But I’m afraid that there will be people I’ve missed out,” said the former 100m sprinter, whose national record of 10.38 seconds had stood for 33 years before being broken in 2001.

Mr Kunalan shared that contacting and locating the sports pioneers were no mean feats. He said, “It has been a roller-coaster because suddenly I realised so-and-so is no longer here, then some have migrated, some cannot come because the family says, ‘No lah, he should not leave home because dementia has set in.'”

For those who made it to the event, it was obvious they found joy from seeing and recognising old teammates and friends from other sports.

“Even though we are from different sports, when we compete with other countries (at major Games), we all go together. But, after that, when we come back, we go our separate ways,” said former national hurdler Mr Osman Merican, whose 110m hurdles national record set in 1966 stood for 42 years.

“But this gathering will recall all the times (they had). We should have this gathering occasionally so we know who is around because, in the next five years, a few of us would be gone,” Mr Osman said, then heartily laughed.

One man who has seen many of these pioneer athletes in their element in his course of work is veteran commentator and radio deejay, Mr Brian Richmond, who had also captained the Singapore football team to a fourth-placed finish at the 1967 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Youth Championship (now known as the AFC Under-19 Championship).

He said, “I started my commentary and sports presentation in 1971. I have seen the feats of these guys who were one time the kingpins in their respective sports. It’s so nice; memories flash back. Everybody is recognising and hugging each other. For some, of course, it takes a little while to actually recognise the guy because times have changed … our features but, of course, what is important, is that we think we are young.”

Mrs Tan Yoon Yin, who had been Singapore Women’s Hockey Association president and the first president of the Singapore Women’s Netball Association (now Netball Singapore) when she formed it in 1962, was one of those who took a little more effort recognising old friends. The 85-year-old chirpily said, “It’s nice to see each other again. One of the hockey players was a thin girl, now she’s so fat! She came to me, I couldn’t recognise her. All of them have put on a lot of weight.”

A dinner and a reunion were not all that was in store for the sports pioneers. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Mr Lawrence Wong announced that all pioneer athletes, officials, and coaches who have been a part of Team Singapore at major Games will be offered free lifetime access to ActiveSG swimming pools and gyms. They will also be invited to major sporting events and programmes at the Singapore Sports Hub, such as the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and ASEAN Para Games next year.

Mr Wong said, “Whatever we do, it cannot fully reflect the contributions that our sports pioneers have made. But it is a way for us to say, ‘Thank you for inspiring the nation.’ Ultimately, the best way for us to honour our pioneers is to live up to their spirit and ideals.”

While those benefits help keep the sports pioneers physically fit and engaged with Singapore’s sports scene, what they, in turn, will keep with them for as long as their memories allow are their sporting experiences.

For Colin Schooling, it will be the catch he made in centre field when he represented Singapore against the hosts at the 1968 Asian Men’s Softball Championship in Manila, Philippines.

“I caught it on a dive and it was phenomenal. If I missed that catch, that guy would have scored many runs. Sometimes, when I see the professionals doing the catches in baseball and softball in the United States, I tell my wife I’ve done that before, you know?” said the man whose 19-year-old son, Joseph, is now Singapore’s top swimmer and a medallist at the SEA Games, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games.

Mr Osman’s enduring memory of his sporting exploits is tied to his gold medal-winning outings at the 1965 and 1967 Southeast Asian Peninsular (now known as Southeast Asian) Games. He said, “I thought in my childish way that the national anthem was only played for the president or prime minister of a country, but they played it when I won the gold.”

Indubitably, these sports pioneers have each toiled in their own ways to achieve sporting success. In the process, they have raised Singapore’s profile in the international arena and paved the way for future generations to outdo them.

Mrs Tan, who had used her own money to buy manuals from Netball Australia on how to be an umpire and coach and effectively played both roles in the then-budding association, recounted, “Last time, I don’t know how. Qin cai bo cai (Hokkien translating to anyhow). Look at the girls now – wonderful. When I watched the Asian Netball Championships (where Singapore successfully defended its title in September), I was so proud. I was so happy that whatever I’ve done was not in vain. I started it and it has come up to the world-class standards it is now.”

*Our sports pioneers are members of the pioneer generation who had represented Singapore at any of the major Games (Southeast Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and Olympic Games), either as athletes, officials, or coaches.

Name of Pioneer / GuestSport / Organisation
Haridas NairSquash
Hubert HillSquash
Tan Kek Hiang Table Tennis
Chua Koon SiongWeightlifting
Tan Ser CherWeightlifting
Tung Chye HongWeightlifting
Ang Yoke MooiBasketball
Chui Yuit SimBasketball
Foo Ah Bee Basketball
Foo Tui LiewBasketball
Ho Siew YongBasketball
Lee Siew EngBasketball
Lim Loh HuatBasketball
Lim Sun GeeBasketball
Neo Ah LuanBasketball
Ong Ah HoiBasketball
Tan Ban SoonBasketball
Soh Kay SiangBasketball
Tan Yen NenBasketball
Loh Sin YunBowling
Raymond KangBowling
Yong Ah KeeBowling
Henry Tan Yoke See Bowling
Lucy TanBowling
Wan Kam FookBowling
Law Shau Ping PeterShooting
Loh Kok HengShooting
Peter LeeShooting
Ee Boon Kong HenryBadminton
Gabriel Oon Chong JinBadminton
Lee Kin TatBadminton
Ong Tiong KhiamBadminton
Richard Chee Yow MengBadminton
Tan Boon LiatBadminton
Tear Ee SoonBadminton
Wee Choon Seng Badminton
Yeo Ah SengBadminton
Colin Reginald SchoolingSoftball
Jerry NgSoftball
Liew Wee MeeSoftball
Charles Derek WilliamsSoftball
Yo Po TeeSoftball
Ho Hong SingSoftball
Sunny SultanSoftball
Ang Swee AunVolleyball
Koh Guan SongVolleyball
David LeeSailing
David Tham Sailing
Henry ChiaSailing
Jimmy Chua Gim GuanSailing
Joseph Chan Khun SingSailing
Julian Yeo See TeckSailing
Lim Heng Loong PeterSailing
Michael TanSailing
Limat Sabtu Sailing
Robert TanSailing
Rodney TanSailing
Tan Tee SuanSailing
Tonny TanSailing
Leu Yew Chye BBMSwimming
Bernard Chan Cheng WahSwimming
Foo Chee HanSwimming (Diving)
Richard Kee Thiam SiewFencing
Kee Bee KhimGolf
Phua Thin KiayGolf
Foo Yoong KwangGymnastics
Lee Seng HuatGymnastics
Ho Wah HuiJudo
Parga SinghJudo
Tan Sin AunJudo
Wong Kin JongJudo
Kan Kwok TohJudo
Michael Wong Hong TengKarate
Wong Tuang SengKarate
Chia Kwek FahKarate Do
Rosemary Tessensohn Lawn Bowls
Yong Lew FoongLawn Bowls
Robin C TessensohnLawn Bowls and Cricket
Judy Kong Yee MoiNetball
Julie KohNetball
Roland GohNetball
Nicholas EeRowing
Robert Tan Jee KengDisability Bowls
Chai Hon YoongLawn Bowls
Chia Tee ChiakLawn Bowls
Goh Eng Han Lawn Bowls
Lim Teong QweeLawn Bowls
Mary LimLawn Bowls
Henry Tan Hong KhoenSingapore Disability Sports Council
Dr Teo-Koh Sock MiangSpecial Olympics Committee
Brian RichmondGuest
Fong Hoe BengSwimming
John Gan Eng GuanWater Polo
Kenneth KeeWaterpolo
Lionel CheeWaterpolo
Pang Tee AunWaterpolo
Koh Lye MengWaterpolo
Seah Pong PinSwimming
Tan Eng ChaiSwimming
Tan Hwa LuckSwimming
Larry ChewSwimming
Tan Thuan HengSwimming
Su Hong ZeeWater Polo
Tan Eng BockWater Polo
Tay Lee SoonWater Polo
Tan Hwee HockWater Polo
Goh Ek PiangCanoeing
Sng Thai SoonCanoeing
A Hamid SupatCycling
Ariff Bin HashimCycling
Kamsari SalamCycling
Lawrence KwaCycling
Roland LimCycling
Dr B K SenFirst chairman of Singapore Sports Council
Bill Wee Hock KeeArchery
Tan Yoon YinNetball
Tan Eng LiangWater Polo
Ng Ser MiangRugby
Leow Kim LiatRugby
Mahat ZainoodinRugby
Mohd Taib OmarRugby
Natahar BavaRugby
Osman HaroonRugby
Peter PangRugby
Sng Yew JinRugby
Sumadi SarkawiRugby
Yee Teck PengRugby
Dr Chan Peng MunRugby
Low Teo PingRugby and Sailing
Bohari SarmaniRugby
Buzari KayatRugby
Chan Kok PohRugby
Hamzah MohamadRugby
How Wai ChewRugby
Ibrahim JaafarRugby
Jarmal SinghRugby
Chan Chow TinAthletics
Ho Mun CheongAthletics
Loh Chan PewAthletics
Ong Yit ChyeAthletics
Raju SupiahAthletics
Rocky ChauAthletics
S DorarajAthletics
Surjan SinghAthletics
Low Sin ChockAthletics
Osman MericanAthletics
P K KoshyAthletics
R SivapillaiAthletics
A PancharatnamAthletics
Avtar SinghAthletics
Benedict GomezAthletics
Cedric MonteiroAthletics
Foo Jiong KewAthletics
George AbrahamAthletics
John Kutty StansilasAthletics
R MuthuveranAthletics
Gilbert NgTennis
Haider SithawallaCricket
John MartensCricket
Joseph GrimbergCricket
R SivasubramaniamCricket
Pritam Singh Randhawa Cricket
Ameerali R. JumabhoyPolo and Equestrian
Angeline EeHockey
Annabel PennefatherHockey
Anwarul HaqueHockey
Chai Hon YamHockey
Dorothy TessensohnHockey
Ee Chong BengHockey
Glory BarnabasAthletics
Kannan ArumugamAthletics
Suppiah P. ChinakarappanAthletics
Kesavan SoonAthletics
Lee Teck GuanAthletics
Lee Yong HoAthletics
Leslie ShepherdsonAthletics
Lim Hong KangAthletics
Noor Azhar Bin Abdul HamidAthletics
Tang Pui WahAthletics
Wong Chong SaiAthletics
Wong Tien ChoyAthletics
Yeo Kian ChaiAthletics
M Hari ChandraAthletics
Ng Ngoh HengAthletics and Shooting
Evelyn TanAthletics
Maimoon Mohd Abu BakarAthletics
Maurice NicholasAthletics
Mukund-Bhai K PandyaAthletics
Ng Weng WahAthletics
Ong Choon PohAthletics
Ismail DarusBoxing
Melvyn HoedenBoxing
Syed Abdul KadirBoxing
Peter R Krishnan GopalanBoxing
Tang Yip KayArchery
Alec Kuok Triathlon
K S ManiamFootball
Mohammed AliFootball
Douglas Paul NonisHockey
Harbhajan Singh LoombaHockey
Lim Ah SwanHockey
Mehar Singh Hockey
S. JeyathuraiHockey
Sharif AmiranHockey
V KamalachelvanHockey
Vear SinghHockey
Yvonne PereiraHockey
Ajit Singh GillHockey and Cricket
Gerard Clarke Hockey and Cricket
Vijiaratnam ArumugamHockey, Cricket, and Football
Hasli IbrahimFootball
Hussain AljuniedFootball
Ibrahim AwangFootball
Nadasen ChandraFootball
Tan Soo NanFootball
John Koh Nam SangFootball
Majid ArifFootball
Andy Yeo Tit LeeFootball
Chia Boon LeongFootball
Eric PaineFootball
Jita SinghFootball
Michael Khoo S CFootball
Chu Chee SengFootball
Yap Boon ChuanFootball
H S DhillonFootball
John ChiaFootball
N KunalanFootball
Rahmat MawarFootball
Tay Shiew CherFormer SSC staff
Yee Weng PheiFormer SSC staff
Margaret WongSSC Nursing Officer
Ng Bee KiaWeightlifting
Raja Letchumanan PBSArchery

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