Who will light the SEA Games cauldron?
Talk of who will light the SEA Games cauldron on June 5 picks up pace
Forty-two years ago, in 1973, the honour was bestowed upon legendary sprinter C Kunalan.
Ten years later, the mastermind behind Singapore track and field's glory years, the late Tan Eng Yoon, was the chosen one.
And in 1993, the last time the South-east Asia (SEA) Games was held in Singapore, bowling queen Grace Young was handed the honour.
With just 38 days to go before the region's biggest multi-sport competition opens in Singapore once again, a burning question doing the rounds is: Who will light the Games cauldron at the National Stadium on June 5?
It is always the biggest secret for any Games and organisers are not letting on.
Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee chairman Lim Teck Yin kept his lips sealed at yesterday's press conference at the Black Box auditorium, where the medals for the event were unveiled, along with details of the closing ceremony.
The Games cauldron will be placed at a location outside the National Stadium and on the identity of the final torch bearer who will light the flame, Lim, who is also the Sport Singapore chief executive, would only say: "The person must be someone people recognise, one that people are fans of, and the person must have contributed a lot to sport in Singapore."
Then, turning to his Sport Singapore team, he quipped: "I've already said too much!"
When contacted by The New Paper, figures in the local sports fraternity were divided.
Bowler Remy Ong said sporting excellence should be the main criterion when selecting the individual.
"I think it should be the person with the most (SEA Games) gold medals," said the 2003 Sportsman of the Year and triple Asian Games gold medallist.
"Since it's Joscelin (Yeo, swimmer), then it should be her because I hope that gold-winning aura can rub off on our Team Singapore athletes."
Swmming queen Yeo amassed a whopping 60 SEA Games medals over eight editions, and her haul of 40 golds is the most by any athlete in the history of the event.
The 35-year-old left competitive swimming after the 2006 Asian Games and is now the Singapore Swimming Association's vice-president (swimming).
James Wong, the 10-time SEA Games champion and former discus king, felt there was only one person who should be given the honour.
"My choice to light the cauldron would be Tan Howe Liang," he said.
"He put Singapore sports on the world map by becoming our first Olympic medallist and we should never forget that."
Former weightlifter Tan, now 81, won silver at the 1960 Rome Olympics in the lightweight category.
He was a torch-bearer at the 1993 SEA Games and ran the first leg of a 500km, 48-hour torch relay which involved 70,000 people.
Wong also suggested that a group of 50 former sportsmen and women who have made an impact in Singapore sport since 1965 be the torch-bearers.
Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua, meanwhile, said having a mix of old and new could be the right option.
While names like swimming's Yeo and weightlifter Tan the have been bandied about, there are some who feel a current sporting icon, like trailblazing swimmer Joseph Schooling, could help a legend light the cauldron and mark a new chapter in Singapore sport.
Said Phua: "We should have sporting glory from past and present.
"We should not forget the sporting heroes of the past but, at the same time, having a current star will have a higher level of engagement with today's Singaporeans.
"Whoever they pick, I certainly don't envy the one who will make the choice because there have been so many athletes who have brought glory to Singapore over the years."
The person must be someone people recognise, one that people are fans of and the person must have contributed a lot to sport in Singapore.
— Singsoc chairman and Sport Singapore chief Lim Teck Yin
We should not forget the sporting heroes of the past but, at the same time, having a current star will have a higher level of engagement with today’s Singaporeans. I certainly don’t envy whoever’s making the choice because there have been so many athletes who have brought sporting glory to Singapore over the years.
— Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua
The person who lights the cauldron must be easily recognisable as someone who has brought honour to Singapore in the sporting arena. It doesn’t really matter if he or she is an athlete or coach, or in some other capacity.
— Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping
My choice to light the cauldron would be Tan Howe Liang. He put Singapore sports on the world map by becoming our first Olympic medallist and we should never forget that.
— Ten-time SEA Games gold medallist and 2004 Sportsman of the Year James Wong
I think it should be the person with the most gold medals. If that’s Joscelin, then it should be her because I hope that gold-winning aura can rub off on our Team Singapore athletes.
— Triple Asian Games gold medallist and 2003 Sportsman of the Year Remy Ong
PHOTO: Courtesy of Singapore Squash Rackets Association
38: It will be a first SEA Games for the entire squash squad, except for 38-year-old Joannah Yue, who is putting on the national jersey again after retiring in 2006.
She was a silver medallist at the 1999 and 2001 Games, and will be key in imparting her experience to her younger teammates.
- DAVID LEE
PHOTO: Courtesy of Henry Park Primary School
38: Henry Park Primary School (HPPS) is 38 years old this year.
To celebrate its anniversary and Singapore's hosting the SEA Games, the students (above) collected crushed cans from classmates and painted the cans to depict various medal sports at the Games, forming the No. 38.
"In these 38 years of our history, HPPS has built up a talent development programme which focuses on nurturing our students' passion for sports and aesthetics and this art piece clearly displays a union of both aspects," said Henry Park's teacher-in-charge Jeremy Wan.