2016 has been an eventful year for Singaporeans and the sports community in Singapore.
Here, we recap the several significant moments of sports news and events:
1) Super Shiok
Joseph Schooling is of course going to win Singapore’s Sportsman of the Year 2016 award, which will be presented sometime this year.
As if you need reminding, in August last year, the 21-year-old won our first-ever Olympic gold, setting a new Olympic record of 50.39s to clinch the Men’s 100m Butterfly title at the Rio Games.
Some are hoping the tsunami-like waves Schooling generated in the pool will trigger a seismic change in Singaporeans’ attitude towards competitive sport.
Fencer Lau Ywen appears to have the potential to be a future Olympic medallist.
In April, the 16-year-old became the first Singaporean to win a gold medal at the Cadet & Junior World Fencing Championship, after she claimed the individual sabre cadet title in Bourges, France.
Being a youth world champion doesn’t automatically make one a serious prospect for an Olympic medal. But the fact that Ywen has conquered the global summit in the cadet category (under-17) is a good sign that her development is on the right track.
If all goes well, we may see Ywen making a breakthrough at the 2024 Olympics.
The Lions’ capitulation in the first round of November’s ASEAN Championship was no surprise.
Talent development has been on the wrong track since 2003, due to a backward policy of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS): instead of allowing Singapore’s leading footballers in their late teens/early 20s to gain proper experience by playing with senior club teammates, the FAS stubbornly insists on having them play together as a team (Young Lions) in the S.League.
No successful footballing nation in the world does things this way — maybe that’s why we’re at at 165th position in the world right now.
The Sports Hub Public-Private Partnership has created silly outcomes.
The Republic is now the only country in the world in which the association governing its national sport is prevented from staging its own competition at the country’s main stadium.
The FAS was forced to postpone the Merlion Cup, planned for January 2016, indefinitey because no commercial deal could be reached with the National Stadium operator – the Sports Hub consortium. High rental was a major problem.
No such fiasco existed when the former Singapore Sports Council (currently Sport Singapore) managed the Kallang arena.
Several National Stadium suite owners are reportedly not going to extend their executive suite memberships because of the arena’s uninspiring line-up of events. Some feel they have “totally overpaid”.
With a few days left in 2016, it was reported that the FAS’ $25-million, six-year deal with sports media rights company MP & Silva could be under threat due to “a lacklustre stretch which has delivered none of the high-profile friendlies promised”.
Instead of the planned four to six annual high-level friendly matches, the past 22 months saw only one notable game – against Malaysia in October.
Here’s to more optimism for 2017 — if not on the pitch, at least out in the pool.
Formerly a broadcast journalist and sports administrator in the Lion City, Michael Y.P. Ang now writes about sport, politics and society in Singapore. Visit michaelangyp.journoportfolio.com for a selection of his writings and follow his Facebook Page Michael Ang Sports for his views on Singaporean sport.
Top photo by Lee Ming Yi for Mothership.sg