Team Singapore's Chef de mission Dr Hing Siong Chen, at the post SEA Games media conference on 17 May 2023 said, he bore witness to several displays of guts and courage by our national athletes during the SEA Games in Cambodia. At the 32nd edition of the regional event, the Republic's 554-strong contingent of athletes featured in 30 sporting disciplines, and went on to finish in 6th place overall on the table standings with 51 Gold, 43 Silver and 64 Bronze medals!
With the average contingent's age at 24 and 47% of our sportsmen and women competing in the SEA Games for the very first time, the 51 gold medal haul is also the fourth-highest in Singapore’s history. 8 new Games records were set along with 17 national marks and 40 personal bests achieved. So as we share and celebrate the nation's pride and glory with our athletes, here's a lookback at the "Top 10 TeamSG Moments in Cambodia 2023!"
Fastest Woman in Southeast Asia after 50 YEARS!
TeamSG's Shanti Pereira wins the 100m gold in Cambodia 2023. Photo Credit : SNOC/Eng Chin An
As the first-ever Singaporean Woman to win the 100meters and 200meters gold medals at the same SEA Games, Shanti Pereira truly deserves the nationwide accolades and praise. After 3 straight bronze medals and a silver, it's taken Shanti 8 years and 5 SEA Games campaigns to earn the tag, "The Fastest Woman in Southeast Asia"! The last time Singapore won the Women's sprint gold was by Eng Chiew Guay at the 1973 Games.
The crucial and strategic move to turn to full-time training since January has totally paid off, as Shanti now has her sights set on the Asian Athletics Championships in July, followed by the Asian Games in September. Meanwhile, the Republic's Track and Field Hall of Famer Glory Barnabas has a message for Shanti : Your performance is incredible Shanti and your next target must be the Olympics. Just Aim and Focus.
Men On A Mission!
2023 Men's Water Polo SEA Games Champions, Team Singapore. Photo Credit : SNOC/Danny Toh
It was THE gold medal which the nation was eagerly waiting for. With Water Polo not being contested at the last SEA Games in Hanoi, all eyes were on Team Singapore this time round, to see if the golden crown would be worn by our Sportsmen yet again. Having worked and trained over the last 4 years, the 2023 squad comprised a blend of youth and experience as 4 former players including 2 team captains, decided to come out of retirement and compete for the nation again.
Led by current skipper Lee Kai Yang, TeamSG battled each opponent in Cambodia, with the mindset of competing in a Cup Final in every match. With dozens of Singaporeans in the stands screaming and rallying the team, the Republic progressed smoothly across each opponent with big-margin victories. After 4 straight wins and with only Cambodia left to compete, the positivity and confidence levels were extremely high. And on 16 May, after the 22-14 win over the Cambodians, the Singaporean players were in tears and hugs all around, as family members, supporters, sports officials etc celebrated the golden win!
Kai Yang told Mediacorp, "It really took a community effort (to reclaim the title). It really took collaboration between all the team members, all our families have become so close, everyone needs to make the sacrifice. I always say this, that the sacrifice is greatest not from the players, but from the family members. Because it's not their dream, but they are the ones that say: 'Go ahead, go chase it'. And we'll be there supporting you all the way."
It's a 3-peat for TeamSG Women's Floorball
TeamSG are 3-time Women's Floorball gold medallists! Photo Credit : SportSG/Alfie Lee
Singapore's Women's Floorballers arrived in Cambodia 2023 as the 2-time defending champions. Having won the gold in 2015 and 2019 (Floorball was not included in 2017 and 2021 SEA Games), the 19-member squad was under pressure to deliver a 3rd gold, especially with the Republic's staging of the IFF World Championships in December. In Cambodia, TeamSG competed and scored 3 straight opening wins over the host nation, Malaysia and the Philippines. With a stunning goal-scoring average of 34-0, TeamSG did sustain their 1st loss as Thailand won 3-1 in the final pool match. But less than a day later, the Republic rebounded in the grand final and defeated the Thais 4-2, to win the gold yet again! Kudos to the ladies for maintaining their own winning streak at the SEA Games!
It's All In The Family
Quah Zheng Wen, Nicholas Mahabir, Quah Jing Wen and Quah Ting Wen win the Mixed Medley Relay. Photo Credit : SNOC/Andy Chua
Describing himself as a "Quah" for 1 night, Nicholas Mahabir was part of the Republic's 4 x 100m Mixed Relay Team, which went on to claim the gold medal in the time of 3min 51.72sec. The mixed gender event was in the SEA Games for the very 1st time. And this proved to be the ideal opportunity for the Quah siblings namely Zheng Wen, Jing Wen and Ting Wen, to compete alongside each other in the same event. It was truly a historic moment to see the 3 siblings in pool action and together with "Nic Quah", they brought home the gold and had fun in the process. Jing Wen said, "It was nerve-racking. I look over and I see a guy about to swim a 100m fly. It’s a very different kind of stress, I like that.”
Fastest Fingers First!
TeamSG's Valorant SEA Games gold-medal winning squad. Photo Credit : Singapore Esports Association
E-sports was introduced at the SEA Games in 2019. And the tactical first-person shooter game "Valorant" made its debut at the biennial games in Cambodia. The Republic's previous success at the Games was a silver medal won by Thomas Kopankiewicz in Starcraft II in 2019. Then a year ago in Hanoi, the team of Bay Hui Qing, Chua Yun Qin, Jeslyn Kweh, Jolene Poh, Valerie Seng, Wong Ming Yan and Xiang Shasha also bagged a 2nd place finish in the women's League of Legends: Wild Rift finals.
Over in Phnom Penh though, Team Singapore was represented by Yeoh Chun Ting, Ingram Tan, Marcus Tan, Rodman Yap, Tidus Goh and Ayrton Soh in Valorant. With victories over Indonesia, Cambodia and Malaysia in the group stage, the Republic booked their spot in the final after a 2-0 triumph over Vietnam. And although controversy did impact the actual final against Indonesia, both countries were awarded the joint-gold medal. One of the members of the Singapore squad, Tidus ‘STYRON’ Goh, said on his Twitter Page, “GGWP to all the teams that participated, it was fun while it lasted. We came in with a day of practice, still proud of what we achieved regardless."
The Power of Three!
Team Singapore's Iffah Batrisyia Noh, Nur Ashikin Zulkifli and Amirah Sahrin in action at Cambodia 2023. Photo Credit : SportSG/Dyan Tjhia
Prior to the Cambodia Games, the trio of Iffah Batrisyia Noh, Nur Ashikin Zulkifli and Amirah Sahrin were already crowned Asian champions and World Champions in the women's artistic team event in 2022. The trio had also clinched the bronze at the Hanoi SEA Games last May. Their training for this event began in 2020, during the global pandemic. And in lieu of the safe management measures in place, the team was forced to train via video conference calls etc and under HDB void decks.
The Women's Artistic gold medal had never been won by Team Singapore at the SEA Games. But after a bronze and silver medal achievement in previous Games in the last 7 years, the gold medal was the ultimate target for Cambodia 2023. So 20 year olds Amirah and Iffah, together with Ashikin (23) decided to train fulltime, when they were among 33 new athletes who were awarded the Sport Excellence Scholarship in April 2023. And in Cambodia, the trio reaped the rewards of their sacrifices and hardwork by scoring 9.955 points in the grand final to beat 2nd-placed Brunei’s Nur Wasiqah, Norleyermah Haji Raya and Anisah Najihah Abdullah (9.925).
Iffah told the Straits Times, “We did not think that we would stand together here (at the Games) with a gold medal. What’s happening now is unexpected. It is nice to know our efforts have paid off and the credit has to go to our coaches, parents and teammates.” The trio are next expected to feature in November, at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Thailand.
Youngest Singaporean to win the Men's Singles crown
TeamSG's 16 year old Izaac Quek wins 3 Gold medals on SEA Games debut! Photo Credit : SNOC/Eng Chin An
Back in 2022, 15 year old Izaac Quek began his road to success with several victories on the WTT Youth Contender series, which took place in several global cities. His achievements allowed him to be nominated as "Sportsboy of the Year" at the 2022 Singapore Sports Awards. The teenager's momentum kept going to the WTT Singapore Smash in March, where Izaac created 2 upset victories to reach the 3rd round of the Men's Singles. And it took the world no 3 Wang Chuqin to end the teenager's dream run at the OCBC Arena.
Over in Cambodia though, Singapore's Table Tennis Association decided to "unleash" their latest rising star as Izaac immediately went in "for the kill". Partnering former singles gold medallist Koen Pang, the duo overcame their opponents and won the Men's doubles gold medal. 16 year old Izaac then linked up with his other squad mates and they battled hard to win the Team Gold medal for the 1st time since 2015. And to add the icing on the cake, Izaac defeated Vietnam’s top player Nguyen Anh Tu to win 4-0 in the Singles final, and become the country’s youngest SEA Games champion in the event. With 3 Gold medals to his name, he returned to Singapore on 17 May and immediately departed for South Africa for the World Championships!
From National School Games Gold to SEA Games crown!
TeamSG's Samuel Robson fences his way to the Foil Gold medal in Games debut! Photo Credit : SportSG Bryan Foo
Just 2 weeks prior to the start of the 32nd SEA Games, the name Samuel Robson was already buzzing in the local fencing community. Not only did the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) Year Five student, claim the gold medal in the Foil event at the ongoing National School Games (NSG), Samuel also fenced his way to another gold in the non-specialized event - the Epee. So with 2 gold medals from the recent NSG, the 17 year old headed to Cambodia to make his Games debut.
Competing in the foil event, the ACS(I) student battled through the regional contenders and reached the grand finale. And against the Filipino favourite, Samuel outclassed Sammuel Tranquilan 15-3. "This gold medal is basically a culmination of my efforts over the past ten years and it is a milestone that I'm very happy to achieve," said Samuel to Mediacorp in a post-bout interview. He did manage to help the Men's team reach the final as well, but they settled for the silver. And once again, Singapore emerged as Fencing's top nation winning 7 of the 12 gold medals on offer, followed by Vietnam with four gold medals, and one for Thailand.
The Flying Doctor soars to his 1st GOLD in his 5th SEA Games
TeamSG's Ang Chen Xiang clinched the gold in the 110m Hurdles final. Photo Credit : SNOC/Lim Weixiang
It took a protest and an appeal by Singapore Athletics, before Ang Chen Xiang was finally awarded the joint-gold medal in the Men's 110m Hurdles in Cambodia 2023! Having won a silver last year in Hanoi, the 28 year old hurdlist was in fine form coming into the biennial Games. Over the last few months, he competed at the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships in Kazakhstan, followed by an impressive 13.89 seconds performance at the Singapore Open Track and Field Championships a few weeks prior to the Games.
Nicknamed "The Flying Doctor", Chen Xiang took to the track in Phnom Penh on 10 May for his 5th SEA Games. Having served as a Commando Medical Doctor during national service, Chen Xiang's stellar run in 13.831 seconds, helped set a new national record after a photo-finish. It was a performance that was 57 years in the making, as Osman Merican last won the the gold for TeamSG at the regional event in the 110m hurdles. And after chalking up his 12th national record, 28 year old Chen Xiang said, “The public looks at the medals but for us athletes, it’s really personal improvement that we treasure. I can’t ask for more. To me, it’s the time and improvements that serve as stepping stones to major Games. These are steps for us to take to improve. Competition sharpens us and gets us faster.”
Almost 65 Years in the Making - SEA Games Gold Medal 1,000!
TeamSG's Quah Ting Wen, Nur Marina Chan, Quah Jing Wen and Amanda Lim clinch the historic 1,000th SEA Games gold medal. Photo Credit : SNOC/Andy Chua
With a haul of 6 gold and 2 silver medals, Team Singapore's Quah Ting Wen was named as one of the two Best Athletes Awards recipients honoured at the Official Closing Ceremony on 17 May. The 30 year old was part of the national swimming team, which recorded the best medal haul at the Games with a total of 47 medals (22 gold, 15 silver, 10 bronze), 7 meet records, 7 national records and 19 personal best timings. 9-time SEA Games campaigner Quah Ting Wen, was also part of the quartet comprising Amanda Lim, Nur Marina Chan and and Quah Jing Wen, which won the nation's 1,000 gold medal on 6 May, in the 4 x 100m Freestyle relay.
Singapore's legendary Hall of Famer Pat Chan (39 SEA Games gold medals), whose niece is Nur Marina Chan, hailed the swim team's effort. "One thousand gold medals! Every one of those medals was won by an athlete who put in thousands of hours of training, who was determined to do her or his best for their country, for the team, for themselves.