TOKYO: Team Singapore’s athletes have shown professionalism, fearlessness, and tenacity at the Tokyo Olympics, said Games chef de mission Ben Tan on Saturday (Aug 7).
Speaking at a virtual press conference, Dr. Tan noted that he was “truly inspired” by their performances.
“From the way our athletes have carried themselves, I am truly inspired … We look at the true meaning of sport which is a display of the human spirit,” said Dr. Tan.
“For example, we look at … (Yu) Mengyu and (Feng) Tianwei, they are seasoned paddlers, they are very experienced and you can see their work ethic. So from them, I learned what professionalism is.”
Yu recorded a fourth-place finish in the women’s singles event in table tennis while Singapore was eliminated in the quarter-finals by China in the women’s team event.
Dr. Tan gave the example of Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low, who recorded the best finish by any Singapore sailor at the Games.
Lim and Low made history by being the first sailors to qualify for a medal race at the Games, finishing tenth overall.
“Sailing is a European-dominated sport, very difficult for Asians and even more difficult for tiny countries like Singapore to break through into the upper rungs. Yet they analyzed what … would be required to get there and they worked backward and checked the boxes systematically one at a time.”
Fencers Amita Berthier and Kiria Tikanah, as well as badminton players Loh Kean Yew and Yeo Jiamin, faced opponents that were “for sure stronger” than them, but they were “quite fearless”, said Dr. Tan.
He also praised the “tenacity and drive” of rower Joan Poh and lauded divers Jonathan Chan and Frieda Lim, open-water swimmer Chantal Liew and equestrienne Caroline Chew, whom he described as pioneers in their sport.
“It’s never easy to be the first person because you are the one that has to pave the way for others,” he added.