Heart work pays off for trailblazer Louise Khng
Floorball coach is first woman to win Coach of the Year award in its 50-year history
Former national women's floorball coach Louise Khng broke a glass ceiling at the Singapore Sports Awards last night, becoming the first woman to be crowned Coach of the Year since the award's inception in 1970.
It capped off a bountiful night for the women's floorball team at the Singapore Sports Hub, with Khng's former charges also winning the Team of the Year (Team Sport) gong.
The nation's floorballers have won the award for the third straight year, with the men's team's win last year sandwiched by triumphs by their female counterparts in 2018 and this year.
Khng, 37, stepped down from her role as the women's floorball coach at the end of last year after a 2½-year stint which saw the team win consecutive SEA Games gold medals and the inaugural Asia Oceania Floorball Confederation Cup in 2018.
The lecturer at Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management also led the team to 12th place at the World Floorball Championship last year - their best-ever performance since the tournament switched to a one-division format in 2011.
"I didn't realise I was the first female coach (to win the award)... until someone just told me about it," said Khng - who was up against an all-male field of Gao Ning (table tennis), Mulyo Handoyo (badminton), Kirill Ivanov (shooting), Stephan Widmer (swimming) and Jason Yeong-Nathan (bowling).
"I guess it really opens up the field for female coaches out there to strive to be really good coaches, to be there for their athletes and to know no matter what they do, they will be recognised eventually.
"It just takes a lot of hard work and heart work... We all focus on the hard work that everyone puts in, but it's really about the heart that everyone has to achieve what they really want to and reach their maximum potential.
"I don't think it's a legit word but, for us, it's heart work that everybody puts in. All the sacrifices and commitments that everyone has done."
Men's floorball coach Lim Jin Quan now also helms the women's team, having succeeded Khng - who previously told The New Paper that she had vacated the post for personal reasons.
Yesterday also saw the end of swimmer Joseph Schooling's five-year reign as Sportsman of the Year.
Singapore's only Olympic champion was succeeded by billiards world champion Peter Gilchrist, who had also won the award in 2014.
A DREAM COME TRUE
The 52-year-old pipped Schooling's teammate Quah Zheng Wen - who was named Most Valuable Male Athlete at last year's SEA Games - and 2018 silat world champion Sheik Ferdous Sheik Alauddin.
Said Gilchrist: "It's fantastic. I think Joseph Schooling has had pretty much a stranglehold on it over the last few years. I managed to win it in 2014... To win it a second time is a dream come true...
"I want to win the world championships again, to win my seventh consecutive SEA Games. I'm still chasing 10 or 20 of them, let's see," he said, with a laugh.
"I'm getting on in age, but who knows, a few more world championships would be nice."
Gilchrist has also won six world titles.
Cherie Tan, meanwhile, became the first Singaporean to win the Masters title at the World Bowling Women's Championships last August and capped off a stunning year by being named Sportswoman of the Year for the first time.
She also became the first Asian to bag the Professional Women's Bowling Association Players Championship last September and is the fourth bowler to win the Sportswoman of the Year trophy in the last seven years.
She saw off competition from Cheyenne Goh (ice skating), Tessa Neo (shooting) and Quah Ting Wen (swimming).
Said the 32-year-old Tan: "Moving forward, what we would like as a team is to win the bowling world championships team event. Not just one world champion, but a whole team of world champions."
* Sportsman of the year
Peter Gilchrist (cue sports)
* Sportswoman of the year
Cherie Tan (bowling)
* Sportsboy of the year
Koen Pang (table tennis)
* Sportsgirl of the year
Amita Berthier (fencing)
* Coach of the year
Louise Khng (floorball)
* Team of the year (team sport)
Floorball - women's team
* Team of the year (event)
Swimming - women's 4x200m freestyle team (2019 SEA Games)
* Sportsboy/sportsgirl team of the year (event)
Table tennis - men's doubles team: Josh Chua, Koen Pang
* Sports event of the year (local)
Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon
* Sports event of the year (international)
International Champions Cup Singapore
* Most inspiring sport story of the year
Rohit Brijnath (The Straits Times)
* Sports photo of the year