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Top five glorious moments for Singapore at the 2019 SEA Games


We take a closer look at Team Singapore's best wins at the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines.

Even before the start of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines, there were issues galore, ranging from insufficient food for athletes to administrative hiccups.

However, nothing could faze Singapore's largest away continent in the history of the SEA Games.

Team Singapore returned with a medal haul of 53 gold, 46 silver and 68 bronze, bringing the total tally to 167. 51 medals came from debutants at the Games. 

The athletes also managed to set 15 Games records along the way. It is the third straight SEA Games where they have achieved more than 50 gold medals.

For those who didn't catch the action from Nov 30 to Dec 11, here is a recap of Team Singapore's glorious moments at the 2019 SEA Games.

1. Bowling quartet reclaim women's team gold after eight years

It was a case of sweet redemption for the Singapore women's bowling team as they clinched the women's team gold for the first time since 2011.

Singapore's women bowling team comprising (left to right) New Hui Fen, Cherie Tan, Daphne Tan and Shayna Ng.

Having been pipped to the title by Malaysia in 2015 and 2017 (bowling was not part of the 2013 SEA Games), the quartet were determined not to let history repeat itself as they scored a combined 8,433 pitfalls to edge out their arch-rivals whom accumulated 8,403 on this occasion.

Widely viewed as some of the finest women bowlers that Singapore has produced, it is fitting that they ended this decade with another team gold in the bag.

2. Grandmaster Gong Qianyun delivers our first gold medal in chess

Not many knew what to expect from chess, but 34-year-old Gong Qianyun made history for Singapore by winning the nation's first gold in the sport. She emerged victorious in the women's rapid chess category with 7.5 points in a field of 10 players.

Gong Qianyun in action against Philippines' Shania Mae Mendoza.

Awarded the title of Woman Grandmaster (the highest-ranking title in chess for females) by the World Chess Federation in 2018, Gong was the nation's sole representative in chess at the Games.

Her success could prove to be the catalyst for the sport to take flight locally, with the Singapore Chess Federation looking to swell the participation numbers from the current figure of 1,500 competitive players.

3. Clean sweep for the underwater hockey teams in their debut

Underwater hockey, one of the seven sports that made their debut in the 2019 SEA Games, brought unexpected successes for Singapore by winning all four golds on offer.

The women's team defeated the Philippines in the 4x4 and 6x6 finals, while the men's team defeated the hosts in the 4x4 and overcame Indonesia in the 6x6 category.

Their triumphs are certainly laudable, considering that they are self-funded and none are full-time athletes. In the case of the men's team, 11 out of the 12 are working professionals while the remaining one is a student.

50-year-old Christina Tham from the women's team clinched her first golds in the SEA Games since 30-odd years ago when she won two silver medals as a national swimmer.

Their success story could pave the way for more efforts and funding to be directed towards up-and-coming sports under the radar.

4. Swimmers match best gold medal haul

Swimming usually emerges as the top performer for Team Singapore at the SEA Games, and it was no different on this occasion, notching 23 gold medals to match their 2015 count. The swimming team accounted for over 40 percent of the nation's overall gold tally despite fielding a young team with several debutants.

Joseph Schooling won gold at the Men's 100m butterfly finals.

Numerous personal and competitive records were smashed along the way. Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling was defeated twice by less-heralded teammates Teong Tzen Wei and Darren Chua in the 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle finals respectively.

Darren Chua enjoyed an outstanding Games debut with five gold medals to his name.

Darren Chua accumulated five gold medals in his impressive Games debut, while Quah Zheng Wen became the most bemedalled athlete in this edition with six golds and two silvers.

Quah Zheng Wen also earned the accolade of the Most Valuable Player award at SEA Games 2019.

It was also encouraging to see new winners emerging with medals, such as Jonathan Tan (men's 50m freestyle), Gan Ching Hwee (women's 800m freestyle) and Christie Chue (women's 200m breaststroke).

Could this be a healthy sign in the pipeline for Singapore swimming?

5. Historic gold for men's softball despite challenges

It was a victory that shocked many in the region as the Singapore's men softball team defeated Philippines, whom has won the gold medal in nine out of the 10 SEA Games that the sport has been featured in, 6-1 in the final.

It was also the first ever gold won by a Singapore softball team, with the previous best finish being a silver won by the women's team in the 2007 edition.

Singapore's men softball team overcame the odds en route to a historic gold.

Their back-story makes their victory all the more remarkable, as they had to train with without a permanent home ground and with no proper lighting in the lead-up to the Games. The players had to weed and flatten the ground on their own accord to get it ready for their training sessions.

The odds were stacked against them, more so after losing 8-0 to the Philippines in the round robin, but the team's resilience eventually paid off in what turned out to be a memorable campaign.

While we laud the gold medal achievements, let's not forget the sacrifices and challenges our athletes had to go through to be able to stand on the podium. Team Singapore, we salute you for your efforts in the Games!


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