Para Swimming athletes sweep half of the awards at Singapore Disability Sports Awards 2022!
(Award winners at the Singapore Disability Sports Awards 2022 event. Photo Credit : SDSC)
6 July : 5 out of 10 awards were conquered by para swimming athletes and coaches at the Singapore Disability Sports Awards 2022, presented by Haw Par Corporation which was held on 6 July evening at the ParkRoyal @ Beach Road.
Excitement was palpable at the event, which many athletes and officials had looked forward to return physically, since the pandemic. The last physical event had been held in 2019.
(VIPs with 3-time Sportswoman of the Year, Yip Pin Xiu. Photo Credit : SDSC)
The 2022 Awards saw Tokyo 2020 double gold medalist Yip Pin Xiu snap up the Sportswoman of the Year award for the third time, since the awards returned in 2019. Pin Xiu’s coach, Mark Chay, was similarly commended as Coach of the Year (High Performance) for the second time, a notable achievement for Mark, who only entered the industry of para swimming in 2019.
(VIPs with Sportsman of the Year, Toh Wei Soong. Photo Credit : SDSC)
Previously Sportsboy of the year for 2019 and 2020, swimmer Toh Wei Soong secured his first Sportsman of the Year award, with an outstanding fourth place finishing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. It would be an exciting year ahead for the 23-year-old, who would soon be heading to the Commonwealth Games 2022. Wei Soong had previously won Singapore’s first para swimming medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
17-year-old Colin Soon, the star of Asian Youth Para Games 2021, took home his first Sportsboy of the Year award, while his coach, Roland Tan, who also groomed Wong Zhi Wei, the most bemedalled athlete of the Asian Youth Para Games 2017, was awarded Coach of the Year (Development).
Sportsgirl of the Year went to 20-year-old sprinter Siti Nurhayati Binte Ali Aksar Khan, who took a silver at the Asian Youth Para Games 2021 despite losing her father just before the games. Boccia duo Aloysius Gan and Yan Jia Yi, together with their Athlete Competition Partners (ACP) - Aloysius’ father Gan Keng Aik, and Jia Yi’s teacher Lanny Kwok, were also awarded Team of the Year for winning Singapore’s first boccia medal at the Asian Youth Para Games 2021.
Not forgotten at the awards were other significant contributions made by non-athletes to the growth of para sports in Singapore over the past year, despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) Singapore received Community Impact (Events and Initiatives) for its consistent efforts in providing therapeutic horse-riding sessions for persons with disabilities, while School of the Arts teacher Mariette Ong was awarded Community Impact (Volunteering) for actively engaging her young students to understand para sports, enabling them to become volunteers for SDSC’s outreach programmes, and unreservedly leading as a trainer for SDSC’s I’mPOSSIBLE para sports education programme.
(Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Tan Ju Seng. Photo Credit : SDSC)
A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Mr Tan Ju Seng, who holds the honour of having the longest tenure as president of SDSC (12 years) and the first president of the Singapore National Paralympic Council (4 years). Under his lead, para sports were introduced into Team Singapore’s agenda under an inclusive banner, and para sports received its first funding from the then Singapore Sports Council. The most notable achievement during his leadership was when he led the team to Singapore’s first Paralympic medal at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games - a historic moment after years of hard work, before government support schemes such as spexScholarships and Road to Rio were introduced. In 2008, Ju Seng also led the charge to set up the Singapore National Paralympic Council.
The event, organised by the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC), was presented by Haw Par Corporation as part of its 2022 corporate social responsibility initiative, the 8th year that the Corporate had stood behind the SDSC to champion para sports. At the event, Mr Brian Loo, Group General Manager of Haw Par Corporation Limited, presented a cheque of $120,000 to Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang, President of SDSC.
Besides the Awards, the donation will continue to support the Boccia team in their trainings and competitions, and the introduction of Boccia to the wider community as a non-competitive sport. It would also sustain national youth competitions for athletics and swimming, to develop the next generation of Sportsboys and Sportsgirls.
“As a sponsor of SDSC since 2015, we have witnessed the resilience and spirit of the athletes and the dedication of the community of coaches, caregivers and volunteers behind them. They are an inspiration to our society. We are pleased to sponsor the Singapore Disability Sports Awards that accord to them the recognition they deserve,” commented Mr Wee Ee Lim, President & CEO of Haw Par Corporation Limited.
Ms Kelly Fan, Exec Director of SDSC, shared, “Thanks for Haw Par’s generosity and loyalty to our community, we have been able to see a healthy growth of young athletes in athletics, swimming and boccia. Especially in Boccia, which has been adopted by Haw Par for the past eight years, we have witnessed the impact of Haw Par’s donation on our long term athlete development, as we now welcome new inspirations such as Jeralyn Tan, Aloysius Gan and Yan Jia Yi to the Awards, and new centres of practice for boccia in the community. It is not easy for a business in these times to stick with a cause through thick and thin. We are extremely grateful that Haw Par is one rare donor that has chosen sustainable impact as its key deliverable for partnership.”