Singapore expected to surpass 50-gold milestone
Singapore's athletes reached the 50-gold medal milestone when the Republic hosted the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games in 1993.
It remains the country's biggest haul of gold medals in history, and when the region's biggest multi-sport event finally returns here this June, many believe that milestone will be comfortably surpassed.
Much will be expected from sports like swimming, sailing, shooting and table tennis. The Republic's bowlers, fencers and wushu exponents can also be counted on to deliver a golden seam.
Many in this football-mad nation dream of a first gold in the event in this edition of the Games, which will be extra special because it will be played in front of "home" fans.
As the clock ticks down to the Games, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) is keeping a close eye on the various National Sports Associations (NSA).
According to SNOC secretary general Chris Chan, they have already conducted a few "progress checks" across various sports, with one more to go soon.
Chan said the signs have been encouraging, and predicted NSAs would face a good selection headache ahead of the Games.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a sponsorship-signing ceremony with Yonex at the Sports Hub yesterday, Chan said: "On Monday, we will announce the first round of athletes who have made the cut (for the Games).
"But that will not (necessarily) mean they will be going to the Games.
"For any one event, there are two Singapore entries, and there may be four athletes who make the grade.
"That is a good problem, and we will leave it to the NSAs to decide who should compete.
"I've had a glance at the (athletes' selection) folder and there a number of athletes who have improved and will probably make the cut.
"The NSAs have to choose between who and who; that is the challenge now."
Organisers hope this year's SEA Games will galvanise the nation to back the country's athletes, and also the mission to begin the revival of Singapore's sports culture.
Key towards this goal are long-time partners Yonex.
Yesterday, SNOC extended their 42-year partnership with Yonex distributors Sunrise & Co.
The extension of the partnership between SNOC and Sunrise & Co for six years means that Singapore athletes and officials will continue to show off Yonex-branded apparel at all major sporting events until the 2020 Olympic Games.
Referring to the longest-standing sports partnership in Singapore, Chan said: "Yonex has always been there for us, through the tough times.
"We have always counted on them when we needed something extra. Like at the Doha Asian Games (2006), when the sailors were feeling cold during competition, they sent some special clothing for them.
"If you consider our partnership with Yonex runs for the next 12 major Games, their (renewed) support could value easily over $5 million."
With support from all sides, Chan believes the Games will be a hit, and the medal target can be achieved.
"The mood now is optimistic. The athletes are going with a bit of fire and that's important," he said.
"SNOC and Sport Singapore are trying to help the NSAs, not just the athletes going for gold, but also those who perhaps just missed gold in previous Games.
"You never know. We are competing on home ground, and with a bit of hard work and support, anything is possible."