Track and field could surprise for Singapore
With 46 golds at stake, track and field has room for surprises
To many, it's a no-brainer that Singapore should surpass the 1993 South-east Asia (SEA) Games haul of 50 gold medals.
But if Team Singapore are to break the 70-gold medal mark come June, the powerhouse sports must deliver.
Bowling, sailing, shooting, swimming and table tennis are once again expected to boost the gold tally for Team Singapore at this year's SEA Games, from June 5-16.
However, the Republic will also need a few surprises from other sports.
And, in that respect, athletics has the biggest room to manoeuvre in the race for surprise golds.
For there are 46 golds at stake, and chef de mission Nicholas Fang says it is the sport with the biggest room for improvement.
In its forecast of 75 gold medals for the 2015 SEA Games, The New Paper tipped just one gold medal in track and field.
But Singapore Athletics president Tang Weng Fei is hopeful of upsets come June.
While the national throwers have consistently delivered golds at the SEA Games - Zhang Guirong will be gunning for her fifth straight shot put gold - there is optimism that this year will be the runners' turn to shine on the National Stadium track come June.
"We should at least equal, if not better, our medal haul (of two golds, three silvers, three bronzes) from the Myanmar SEA Games (in 2013)," Tang told TNP.
"There is reason to be optimistic about our sprinters. The 4x100m men's team lost to Thailand in Myanmar but, with home support this time round, you never know.
"There's also Shanti (Pereira) in the women's 100m and 200m, and the marathoners (Soh Rui Yong and Ashley Liew).
"Shanti has only the Thai runner to beat, now that the Vietnamese girl (who won gold in Myanmar) has retired.
"The athletes are happy with their progress, they are not struggling, which is important.
"If everyone stays healthy, we have a good chance."
The Republic's athletes finished the two-day Singapore Open Track and Field Championships at the National Stadium last month with three golds, six silvers and 15 bronzes, along with three new national marks.
They finished sixth in the overall team standings, with Indonesia taking top honours with nine golds.
The athletes will have a final tune-up before the home Games at the Taiwan Open next month in Taipei.
SEA Games CDM Fang hopes that good performances from the less prolific sports such as track and field will take the pressure off the other athletes.
He said: "I went down to the Singapore Track and Field Open (last month) and there seemed to be a winning attitude among our athletes.
"The high jumpers and the pole vaulters are doing well and the sprinters are fighting for a medal. Once you're in the medal race, you can push for the gold.
"It's tough to put a numerical target on our medal haul overall.
"We are not operating in a vacuum - others have made strides as well, such as Myanmar, who years ago, were never in the running, but now they have just hosted a Games.
"The 50-gold target is certainly achievable, but the way to go forward is attaining gold medals from a broad base of events."
OUR BEST HOPES
SHANTI PEREIRA (women's 200m)
Personal best: 23.99s
2013 winning time: Vu Thi Huong, Vietnam (23.55s)
AMIRUDIN JAMAL (men's 100m)
Personal best: 10.46s
2013 winning time: Jirapong Meenapra, Thailand (10.48s)
ZHANG GUIRONG (shot put)
Personal best: 18.57m
2013 winning distance: Zhang Guirong, Singapore (14.99m)
MICHELLE SNG (high jump)
Personal best: 1.84m
2013 winning height: Duong Thi Viet Anh, Vietnam (1.84m)
MEN'S 4X100M RELAY
(Gary Yeo, Calvin Kang, Elfi Mustapa and Lee Cheng Wei)
Personal best: 39.45s
2013 winning time: Thailand (39.75s)
SOH RUI YONG (marathon)
Personal best: 2:26:01
2013 winning time: Mok Ying Ren, Singapore (2:28:36)
ASHLEY LIEW (marathon)
Personal best: 2:32:12
2013 winning time: Mok Ying Ren, Singapore (2:28:36)
- When: June 6-7, 9-12
- Where: Singapore National Stadium (Free entry)
- On offer: 46 gold medals
- Milestones: Men's discus gold, 1999 (James Wong), Women's shot put gold, 2003 (Du Xianhui), Men's 100m gold, 1969 (C Kunalan)
- The team (selected athletes): Shanti Pereira (100m, 200m), Hannah Lee (discus), Zhang Guirong (shot put), Michelle Sng (high jump), Rachel Yang (pole vault), Zubin Muncherji (400m), Amirudin Jamal (100m), Gary Yeo (100m), Calvin Kang (100m), Dipna Lim-Prasad (400m hurdles)
- Did you know? Former sprinter C Kunalan is Singapore's most decorated track star with 15 SEAP Games medals to his name, including the men's 100m gold in Rangoon in 1969. Thrower James Wong won seven consecutive gold medals in the discus from 1993 to 2005.
- The New Paper's medal prediction: Just one gold medal from Zhang Guirong in the women's shot put looks the likely haul. But Shanti Pereira could surprise in the women's 100m and 200m, while marathoners Soh Rui Yong and Ashley Liew, Singapore's two fastest this season, could also vie for top spot.
TNP-PUMA SEA Games contest
WIN: Answer a simple question and you could win a pair of PUMA’s evoSPEED (left) or evoPOWER boots (right). PHOTOS: COURTESY OF PUMA
In partnership with German sportswear company PUMA, The New Paper will be giving away PUMA boots to its readers in the lead-up to the 28th SEA Games from June 5-16.
As TNP continues its 50-day countdown, we will be giving away two pairs of PUMA football boots - evoPOWER worn by Radamel Falcao and evoSPEED, endorsed by Sergio Aguero, worth $269 and $239 respectively.
Both boots will hit the stores only on May 1, which means our lucky winners will be among the first in the world to own them. To stand a chance of winning the prizes, go to tnp.sg/seagamescountdown and answer a simple question.
E-mail your answer with full name and contact number to npsports@ sph.com.sg by April 23. Winners will be notified about collection of prizes.