Fang: Record 75-gold haul would be phenomenal
The New Paper boldly predicts that Team Singapore will beat the record 50-gold haul from the 1993 South-east Asia (SEA) Games, and set a new benchmark of 75 in June.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Nicholas Fang described it as "very optimistic".
Fang, who is one of two chefs de mission for Team Singapore at this year's "home" Games, along with Dr Tan Eng Liang, said: "This represents a quantum leap from 22 years ago. It is a 50 per cent improvement from the last time we hosted the SEA Games in 1993, and it is a nice target.
"If we win 75, it will definitely put us in the top three, which would be phenomenal because that will be a first for us in the SEA Games era (Singapore finished second in the medal standings as hosts of the 1973 South-east Asian Peninsular Games).
"In principle, it's sound to say that all the investment - infrastructure, the world-class Sports Hub, Singapore Sports School, Spex scholarship and so on - should boost our results in regional tournaments.
"Historical evidence has shown that the hosts will usually improve in their gold-medal haul, and we also hope for a positive game-changer with the hosting of this SEA Games."
Fang warned that neighbouring countries have also placed much emphasis on sports excellence and Mark Chay, a former national swimmer, pointed to Vietnam's emergence in the swimming scene as an example.
He said: "Vietnam have up-and-coming female swimmers, while Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines are strong in the men's events, so we shall see.
"We may get around 14 gold medals from swimming, as our men's team are strong and may contribute about 10.
"Overall, I think we will get about 60 gold medals. Seventy-five is a bit too high, considering track and field is a gold mine and we are not expected to get many from there."
Ten-time SEA Games gold-medallist and discus legend James Wong says it is possible for Team Singapore to win 75 gold medals, with the bulk of them coming from swimming and sailing.
He said: "Given the hype and support that Sport Singapore have given our current athletes, we should easily surpass the 50 mark. In fact, I think we can reach the 65-gold mark.
"But if our athletes can use the home support to their advantage and rise above themselves, then 75 is a possibility."
Wong backed the lesser-known sports to chip in, and Singapore National Olympic Council secretary general Chris Chan hopes it will happen.
"Considering the fact this SEA Games will feature 36 sports, seven more than the 1993 edition, we should not do worse than the 50 golds we won then," he said.
"I can see a lot of effort being put in by everyone and we should also look at the sports that used to be in doldrums, so if these National Sports Associations can win their first silver or first bronze medal at this Games and get a lift, I'll be very happy, too."
Fang revealed that sports psychologists have been engaged to prepare Team Singapore athletes for the SEA Games.
He added: "I hope to see a broad base of potential gold-medal sports instead of putting all our eggs in one basket of one or two traditionally strong sports like swimming and table tennis and put too much pressure on them, because unforeseen circumstances like injuries can happen.
"So I'm looking at lesser-known sports such as floorball, fencing, canoeing and synchronised diving, who have impressed in recent times."
ST FILE PHOTO
When Singapore last held the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in 1993, they won 50 gold medals.
Twenty-two years on, this year's SEA Games on home soil takes on extra significance as it is also the same year as the Republic's 50th anniversary.
As the nation counts down 50 days towards the SEA Games, there will be a series of 50 community initiatives known as Torch-Up! projects, realised in the form of 30 art structures and 20 event-based projects.
Schools, corporations, interest groups, and voluntary welfare organisations have also been invited to own a number (from 1-50) to be part of a creative number formation, and share their stories on various platforms.