SEA Games performance bodes well for Singapore sports
Top local sports officials impressed with the depth and breadth of Republic's athletes
Team Singapore's performance at last month's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur bodes well for the Republic at future major multi-sports Games.
That was the appraisal made by Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin and Singapore Sports Institute chief Toh Boon Yi, at a media briefing yesterday when the national sports agency presented its detailed assessment of local athletes' performance in KL.
Team Singapore returned with 188 medals - 57 gold, 58 silver and 73 bronze - to record the best away showing at the SEA Games.
The haul placed Singapore fourth in the overall medal standings, although another gold medal would have seen it pip Vietnam (58-50-60) to third place.
Malaysia racked up 323 medals (145-92-86) to finish top, ahead of runners-up Thailand (72-86-88).
Said Lim: "It's obvious that our ambitions are higher than No. 4.
"As we progress from the SEA Games, I think the most important thing is to provide Singaporeans a way of following Team Singapore and understanding what progress and success look like."
Toh pointed to the depth and breadth of the performance of the Singapore contingent as being particularly impressive.
From of the 560-strong contingent, 303 athletes, or 54 per cent, were debutants.
These debutants delievered 71 (37.7 per cent) of Singapore's medals, indicating a healthy stream of young talent is being produced.
The statistics also indicated the support system in place for athetes was doing its job.
Only 43 (eight per cent) in the contingent were under the spexScholarship programme - a support scheme that provides elite-level athletes with stipends of between $1,200 and $8,400 monthly to cover training costs.
But they delivered 58 medals, 28 of which were gold.
It’s not just one spurt or dash, but a long-term structured, scientific and persistent training programme, backed by good quality coaches and a supportive ecosystem.Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu
Moving forward, Toh said that more can be done to identify and groom talent, to supplement the spexScholarship programme.
"Our spexScholar system was created to optimise and maximise the potential talent... (and) it'll take them to continental level," he said.
"But the spexScholarship system is insufficient on its own to generate the conditions for talent to arise year in, year out.
"In today's system, the spexScholarship captures when talent arrives (at elite level) and supports them.
"But, for a more robust, matured system, the talent pipeline must always be there."
Toh added that one way to assess progress is to chart the share of medals gathered over several SEA Games, particularly "away" ones as home SEA Games traditionally see host nations boosted by home ground advantage.
Singapore's share from 2007 to 2013 ranged from seven to nine per cent, but shot up to 14.1 per cent in Kuala Lumpur.
A 15 per cent of the medals would usually be enough for a nation to be among the top performers at any particular SEA Games.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu praised Team Singapore's "impressive performance" in KL, and said that many athletes she spoke to had already set their sights on performing at next year's Asian Games in Jakarta, or the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
"We are not not looking at them at just one Games but several, tracking and seeing how they are performing, if it is going as planned and so on," she said.
"And that's really about long-term development in high performance sports.
"It's not just one spurt or dash, but a long-term structured, scientific and persistent training programme, backed by good quality coaches and a supportive ecosystem."