Best frock forward

Guests at this year's Icon Ball came dressed to impress

SHOWSTOPPERS: Ms Rany Moran stood out in her Mikael D gown.
BOUQUETS: The 20 women who were named Best Dressed at this year's Icon Ball.

More than 300 members of Singapore’s glitterati attended the annual Icon Ball on Thursday evening.

It was held to celebrate the 11th anniversary of Icon, a Chinese luxury lifestyle magazine published by SPH Magazines.

The theme of the evening was “An Evening of Wonder and Whimsy”.

The event was held the Shangri-la Hotel’s Island Ballroom.

Get the full story in our print edition April 16.

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Yearning for something different

There were 14,600 infocomm job vacancies in 2014 according to Infocomm Development Authority's (IDA) Infocomm Manpower Survey. DANELIA CHIM (danchim@sph.com.sg) speaks to two women who took up the information and communications technology challenge even though they had limited knowledge about the field.

WOMEN IN INFOCOMM: Miss Min Ong (above) and Miss Esther She both graduated from General Assembly's immersive programs with new skills under their belts.
WOMEN IN INFOCOMM: Miss Min Ong and Miss Esther She (above) both graduated from General Assembly's immersive programs with new skills under their belts.

Almost three years into her career, Miss Min Ong felt the need for a job change.

Over a chat with a friend about a website on animals they had done in primary school, she knew which industry she wanted to join.

So she quit her job and took up a course on web development with General Assembly (GA), supported under the IDA's TIPP initiative. 

She now has a new job and has never been happier.

Miss Ong, 28, is one of 16 students who graduated from the pilot Web Development Immersive under the Tech Immersion and Placement programme by IDA in collaboration with a global education company, General Assembly (GA). 

In 2009, Miss Ong had left Singapore to pursue a masters in management in France, where she stayed for three years.

She then joined a global pharmaceutical firm and worked in operations, specialising in supply chain management, which involved a lot of analytical work.

She yearned for something different.

She told The New Paper: "Over a year, I researched and thought about making a switch to the ICT (information and communications technology) industry.

NOW OR NEVER

"I even saved up money to attend a Web Development Immersive (programme) in New York that was about US$13,500 (S$18,300)."

But she did not quite have the courage to make that leap of faith.

One day, she and a friend recalled how they had got involved in self-coding a website about animals when they were just 10 years old. That conversation convinced Miss Ong it was now or never.

She returned to Singapore to visit her family and found out that WDI was offered locally.

After graduation, she had around four job offers, but Miss Ong picked Triplynr, a start-up company that created an app and website to make planning trips easier.

She said: "Triplynr stood out for me because I am able to relate to it since I love to travel.

"To be able to write the code then see it come to life as an app or webpage is amazing and satisfying."

Another student who graduated under TIPP is User Experience Design Immersive (UXDI) graduate, Miss Esther She, 33.

She has always been interested in anything ICT-related and would go online to learn about software such as Photoshop.

Her job as a corporate communications officerinvolves managing content on her company's website.

Her boss encouraged her to go for the UXDI course and that was where her talent for user experience design blossomed.

Miss She said: "I had been hesitant (about joining) at first, but I really enjoyed (UXDI). It was quite intense in terms of time spent, but it's definitely worth it."

Miss She was so outstanding that when she graduated from the programme, she took up GA's offer to be a teaching assistant for the second batch of students.

When she returns to her company, Miss She said that her job scope would expand to allow her to use her new skills.

7.0 MAGNITUDE QUAKE IN JAPAN

Trapped, they used social media to talk

HELPING HAND: A Japanese Red Cross medical staff (in red cap) provides psychological support for a family affected by the April 14 and 16 earthquakes at a hospital in Kumamoto prefecture.
EVACUATION: Residents walk on a street next to houses destroyed in the recent earthquakes in Mashiki in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan.
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7.8 MAGNITUDE QUAKE IN ECUADOR

So shaken, they could not walk

AFTERMATH: (Above) Residents survey the damage caused by an earthquake to their homes as rescuers evacuate survivors.
AFTERMATH: Residents survey the damage caused by an earthquake to their homes as rescuers evacuate survivors (above).
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Singapore Sevens will be even better next year: SRU chief Low

Rugby chief Low vows to build on success of Singapore Sevens

FUN TIME: Fans from Fiji (in blue) and others making up the record turnout during the Singapore Sevens at the National Stadium.

The dust is yet to fully settle at the National Stadium, but it is safe to say the 2016 HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens has been a resounding success.

There was plenty of scintillating rugby on offer, witnessed by just under 50,000 spectators over two days.

To cap it all off, it concluded with Kenya upsetting one of the pre-tournament favourites Fiji 30-7 in the final yesterday to claim their maiden World Rugby Sevens series title.

It may take a while before the Singapore Sevens matches the stature and glamour of the Hong Kong Sevens but, already, the future is looking bright after its nine-year hiatus.

The Singapore Sevens was last held in 2006 and, back then, drew daily crowds of about 16,000.

This year's edition, which is the eighth stop of the 16-nation rugby sevens tournament, welcomed more than 23,000 fans on each day of the weekend.

Apart from the action on the pitch, event organisers also provided plenty of entertainment for the fans off it.

From Friday to yesterday, a three-day music festival was held at Clarke Quay featuring resident bands and prominent local music acts, in line with the organisers' bid to create a carnival atmosphere for the event.

"It's been a long journey that was two years in the making… But I think we can say we've done it," said Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping yesterday.

"With 230 volunteers, great support from the government through Sport Singapore and the Singapore Tourism Board, together with World Rugby, I think I can't ask for much more.

"The record fan turnout, not just from Singapore but around the region, definitely confirms that we must make sure we do an ever better job next year so that they keep coming back."

Guest of honour and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu gave the thumbs-up to the tournament.

"This is one of the first major events since last year's SEA (South-east Asia) Games and APG (Asean Para Games) and, seeing (nearly) 30,000 fans here, I think we've really embraced the tournament and the Sports Hub," said Ms Fu.

"I see young kids and entire families having a nice time together and I think this is what the Sports Hub can do for us.

"It's been a really world-class sporting event for the whole family, it's been great for the spectators and the players and I think it will inspire the next generation of rugby players in Singapore.

"I am most definitely looking forward to coming back next year."

Although most of the spectators showed up supporting the likes of New Zealand, Fiji or South Africa, Low believes Kenya's fairy-tale triumph made the tournament all the more special.

"Well, definitely," he replied, when asked by The New Paper if he believed the tournament delivered on the pitch.

"You get a team like Kenya, who were underdogs, and they've actually won here many, many years ago when they beat England.

"Speaking to the guys from Kenya, they feel Singapore is a special ground for them and I think it's great.

"For an upset like Kenya beating Fiji to happen, I think it's going to ensure this (the Singapore Sevens) is well remembered."

For an upset like Kenya beating Fiji to happen, I think it’s going to ensure this (the Singapore Sevens) is well remembered.

— Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping

Matthew is ACS(I)'s hero

Victory was in their grasp with one-and-a-half minutes to go.

With a 12-7 lead, Raffles Institution looked on course to be crowned champions of the World First Singapore Schools Under-14 Sevens Series at the National Stadium yesterday.

But their opponents, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), clearly didn't read the script and staged a gritty comeback, led by regular captain Matthew Lim.

With time running out, the 14-year-old centre (above) took advantage of an opening in the RI defence to storm through for a try.

His subsequent conversion gave ACS(I) a 14-12 lead which they held on to loud cheers from the delirious supporters in the stadium.

Matthew believes that his team's poor performance in the first half was down to pressure.

"At the start, the team were overwhelmed with excitement and nervousness, but it got better over time and we were able to make better decisions," he said.

The seven-a-side final was an exciting precursor to the main event yesterday - the HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens.

Raffles burst off the blocks, taking a 7-0 lead in the first minute through a try and conversion from Spencer Wee.

ACS(I) responded in the next minute as Matthew used his pace and body feints to great effect, scoring a try and conversion to level the score.

Both sides came out in the second half determined to deliver the killer blow and it was RI who led again through a try from Lee Kai Si, although the conversion was missed.

RI defended valiantly to hold on to their lead but Matthew's late heroics broke their hearts.

"I think RI gave their best today. We made many mistakes during the first half and we were not able to get the crucial tackles to keep them from scoring," said Sean Ng, ACS(I)'s Sevens captain for the tournament.

The ACS(I) boys were delighted to be given the chance to play at the National Stadium, following the footsteps of their seniors who also played the 2014 National C Division rugby final there.

"Being able to represent our school on such a big stage is an honour and it also gives the juniors (Sec 1 boys) great experience and exposure to the sport," said Matthew, a Sec 2 student.

"Age and size did not deter them and they just went all out. They really did us proud."

Samoa pip All Blacks with last-gasp try

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Kenya shock Fiji 30-7 for first World Series title

East Africans stun Fiji to win first World Series title

FINAL

FIJI 7

KENYA 30

The final whistle blew at the National Stadium and immediately sparked off wild celebrations on one half of the field.

After all, it had been nothing short of a fairy tale.

The Kenyan players (above) formed a circle on the pitch, arms over one another, some with their eyes closed, as they sang in unison.

Kenya coach Benjamin Ayimba later revealed that his charges were singing a gospel, giving thanks after a stunning 30-7 triumph over series leaders Fiji saw them win the 2016 HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens.

This was their first World Series triumph in 17 years and only the third time they had advanced to the Cup final of a leg of the Sevens Series, after two runner-up finishes in 2009 (Adelaide) and 2013 (Wellington).

So how did the East Africans stun the World Series defending champions? By being stronger, faster and hungrier.

It took Oscar Ayodi just 19 seconds to score the first try of the final and, with many of the 27,370 fans expecting the Fijians to respond, the Kenyans added three more tries to take a shock 20-0 lead at the break.

LATE SURGE

Fiji finally responded three minutes into the second half, but any hopes of a revival were emphatically quashed as Nelson Oyoo and Frank Wanyama crossed the line to complete a memorable weekend for the Kenyans.

"I'm ecstatic," a beaming Ayimba said after the final. "My pulse is still very high and it will take a bit of time before it sinks it, so I don't think I can really describe it.

"Anything can happen in rugby sevens these days and all the teams are playing very well.

"There's always an outside chance (to win) but, when you come out here, you come to win so when the opportunity presented itself, we were always ready for it."

Hailing it as a monumental triumph not just for Kenya, but also the whole of the African continent, Ayimba insists his side will be looking to make a similar impact at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.

"This is big for Africa as a whole because, apart from South Africa, no other team have ever done it before," he added.

"Given it's our first title, we hope it inspires the kids to play rugby and it just gives them a lot more heroes to look up to so, for us, it's a major milestone.

"The target for Rio is always to win... We have two more tournaments to prepare and looked for better combinations, and see how well we can go from there."

The shock result also meant that the Fijians failed in their bid to make it back-to-back successes after winning the Hong Kong Sevens last weekend.

Graceful in defeat, Fiji coach Ben Ryan was effusive in his praise of the victors.

The 44-year-old Englishman said: "The better team beat us tonight… I thought they were incredibly physical at the breakdown, did a brilliant job in counter-rucking and also controlled the kick-offs in the first half.

"I thought we should have been a bit more pragmatic in the first half, but let's not make it what we did badly but what Kenya did well.

"It was a great lesson for us and Benjamin and those boys need to be congratulated... They've been around for a long time and deserve the silverware, so I am delighted for them.

"The boys are going to learn some lessons. but the big thing is that we're still going to get on that plane back to Fiji having extended our lead in the series."

Kenya shot up to seventh in the standings after their 22-point haul in Singapore, with Fiji extending their lead at the top to eight points over South Africa with two rounds remaining in France and England.

OTHER RESULTS

  • 3rd-place play-off: South Africa 28 Argentina 0
  • Plate final: New Zealand 21 Samoa 26
  • Bowl final: Scotland 14 US 10
  • Shield final: Wales 7 Russia 24

This is big for Africa as a whole because, apart from South Africa, no other team have ever done it before.

— Kenya coach Benjamin Ayimba

WHAT THE FANS SAY

TNP PHOTO: HARESH KUMAR

"It's amazing to watch our fellow countrymen play in this atmosphere.Being able to watch the national players play 'live' than on television is remarkable."

- Megan Williams (above, left) and Rebeccah Mclaren (right), 18-year-old English students studying at Tanglin Trust School

"The kids really had fun and the atmosphere was just amazing. It was a time for us to bond and it's a great opportunity for all supporters to be here for a common goal and that is to support their countries."

- Singaporean Sharon Koo, who took her son Ryan Lim and daughter Sarah Lim to the National Stadium to support New Zealand

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