Swimmers set the standard, with 23 of Singapore's 53 SEA Games golds
Swimming was held up as a model for the Singapore sporting fraternity at the SEA Games wrap-up press conference in Clark yesterday.
Chef de mission Juliana Seow said the Republic's swimmers deserve a "special mention", while Richard Gordon, head of high performance and athlete life at the Singapore Sport Institute, praised the Singapore Swimming Association's stable governance and forward planning.
Swimming contributed nearly 45 per cent of the Republic's 53 golds. Singapore also won 46 silvers and 68 bronzes.
The swimmers bagged 23 golds, set 15 Games records, nine national marks and clocked 26 personal bests. They also met three Olympic "A" qualifying marks.
The sport provided both a wide array of individual race winners - 12 - and the Games' Most Valuable Player for male athletes in Quah Zheng Wen, who bagged six golds and two silvers and qualified for Tokyo 2020 in the 100m butterfly and 100m backstroke.
On swimming's success, Gordon said: "They take a planned and very systematic approach in all they do.
"They've developed their National Training Centre, which helps to set standards... The majority of those athletes are in school, university... or going through national service.
"We believe that education and national service in Singapore are not necessarily an impediment to top performance.
"What swimming has demonstrated to us is that they have a planned approach and that they plan several years ahead... and it's paid dividends...
"They are very stable in their governance and I'd compare and contrast that with several other sports over these past one or two years, where we've noticed... there has been some turmoil.
"This is a distraction... this is not fair to the athletes...
"These are lessons that we hope all other sports in Singapore can take on board."
Other sports that received praise included jiu-jitsu, fencing and floorball.
Said Gordon: "Many of the traditional sports perhaps have lost some innovation, perhaps they've lost a little bit of desire, (and) are being challenged by some of the emerging new sports."
Gordon also highlighted five athletes and one team that "embody and personify the Singapore spirit".
SIX OF THE BEST
He picked out swimmers Quah, Amanda Lim and Darren Chua, sailor Ryan Lo, billiards ace Peter Gilchrist and the men's softball team, who won a historic gold.
Said Gordon: "One, I think they are incredibly professional; two, I think they are incredibly hardworking; and three, they are very, very humble in what they do." - DILENJIT SINGH