Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Singapore heads toward sports excellence

Eyeing medals at the Olympics in London and Rio de Janeiro, Asia’s economic tiger Singapore has made simultaneous efforts to upgrade its sports excellence by integrating sports development and education as well as nurturing the country’s sports businesses.

“The SSC [Singapore Sports Council] is determined not to let Singaporeans wait another half a century before seeing one of our own on the Olympic podium again,” SSC deputy director of media relations and social media Jose Raymond wrote to The Jakarta Post recently.

Singapore’s latest medal feat was a silver from table tennis at the 2008 Beijing Games, after a long wait of 48 years since the city-state won its first Olympics medal in Rome. It was in the 1960 Games when weightlifter Tan Howe Liang brought home Singapore’s first Olympics silver.

Singapore expects to grab two medals in London next year, while six more are being eyed in the following 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Despite excellent access to public sports facilities within in a radius of two kilometers of each facility to ensure its citizens remain fit, looking back, international sports excellence was not always the government’s prime concern.

“There are no national benefits from gold medalists for smaller countries. For the superpowers with large populations, winning in sports becomes national pro-paganda to persuade people of the superiority of their competing political system. But it is foolish and wasteful for the smaller countries to copy this,” then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew said at the opening of the S$50 million National Stadium in Kallang in 1973.

After the declaration, the government abandoned the second phase of the construction of the National Stadium complex and investment was prioritized for low-cost housing construction. It also withdrew from hosting the 1978 Asian Games, a bid it had already won.

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