CDM Low: An A+ for Schooling and Team Singapore
Schooling's gold a highlight for Team Singapore but CDM Low says more can be done to bring further success
REPORTING FROM RIO
He opened the briefing by reiterating the unique challenges posed by an Olympic Games held in South America for the first time.
He described swimmer Joseph Schooling's triumph as a "remarkable breakthrough", and hoped it would lead to what he called a "national agenda", so that Singapore can continue to win on the biggest sporting stage of all.
In the traditional post-Games wrap-up press conference here yesterday morning (Singapore time), chef de mission Low Teo Ping was happy with the performance of the 25 athletes who flew the Republic's flag in Rio and reserved glowing praise for Schooling after his gold medal in the 100m butterfly, which surely was a big reason for his A+ grade for Team Singapore.
"Joseph Schooling's phenomenal performance in the 100m butterfly and his Olympic record time were the highlights for Team Singapore," said Low.
"It was a remarkable breakthrough.
"He carried the Singapore flag higher than at any other Olympic Games and ensured we walked the Games Village with our heads held high.
"We are generally pleased with the performance of all the athletes despite some not being able to perform beyond their personal bests, bearing in mind that they were competing with the world's best in their respective disciplines."
While Schooling made world headlines after beating Michael Phelps to win Singapore's first Olympic gold, the women's table tennis team returned home without a medal for the first time in three Games.
Flanking Low on the rostrum at the Catira Room at the Main Press Centre, Singapore National Olympic Council secretary general Chris Chan acknowledged a less than ideal build-up for the table tennis team prior to the Games, citing the change of coaches and the need to play in more competitions to improve their rankings.
"I think the table tennis team need a break right now and find their bounce again," said Chan.
"Feng Tianwei looked drained here from so much table tennis and the effects of so many injuries.
"She's already said she wants to play in the 2020 Olympics and that's good. The team need to rest and then start again."
Sixteen of the 25 athletes made their debut at these Olympics, and 22 qualified on merit, which is a sign of progress, insisted Low.
Singapore were represented in rowing for the first time and Saiyidah Aisyah finished 23rd overall out of 32 in the women's singles sculls event.
Contingent chief Low called for more support for Aisyah.
"I've spoken to her at the Games Village a few times. She is enthusiastic, knows what she wants, has the drive and energy," he said.
"I've also met her Aussie coach, Alan Bennett, who is excellent.
"They know what they want. I know she does not get much support from the national sports association, and I think Aisyah deserves a boost as she works towards the 2018 Asian Games."
Loh praised the crucial support work of the Singapore Sports Institute, which has now become a key player in the quest for high-performance athletic success.
The team had to grapple with issues like the Zika threat and other health concerns, security and potential transport complications.
At the Games Village, "hot water, cold water, no water, and no lights", also had to be fixed.
Low praised the local organisers for fixing the problems promptly and, at a time when the United States Olympic Committee was dealing with the shameful behaviour of four of their swimmers, including star Ryan Lochte, he was pleased to call the Games "incident free" for Team Singapore.
Looking ahead to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and beyond, Low said: "The road to success is obviously not easy. It's tough.
"Look at the Japanese here, they have been very successful because they have a national agenda.
"We need to have a national narrative, a national agenda, to continue to be successful, rather than depend on one or two athletes to suddenly come along."