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Speech by Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence and President Singapore National Olympic Council

DATE: 1 JUNE 2010

Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth & Sports, Distinguished Guests, Athletes, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Good evening and a very warm welcome to the Singapore Sports Awards 2010. Tonight we pay tribute to the athletes and officials who have done us proud with their sporting achievements in 2009. If it looks a bit packed in the ballroom tonight it is because we have a big gathering of awardees. There are 153 awardees in all, though not all of them are able to be here with us tonight. This is perhaps one of the largest number of awardees at the Singapore Sports Awards.
  2. This year not only do we have the Men’s Waterpolo Team of 13 receiving their Merit award, we have in addition the National Men’s/Women’s Mixed Junior Dragon Boat Team of 49 athletes also winning a Merit award. The Dragon Boat team is by far the largest team ever to receive any award. Prior to this the football team of 22 had been the largest team. This is the Dragon Boat Association’s first award since the inception of the Singapore Sports Awards in 1967. I hope this award will spur you on to win many more in the years to come.
  3. It is significant too that there are more merit award winners in the senior team category than in the Individual category. That is another reason why there are more awardees this year. Table tennis and swimming accounted for five of the teams winning team merit awards each; shooting for three team merit awards; and cue sports, bowling, wushu and athletics for one team merit award each. Altogether there are 17 teams winning the merit awards as opposed to 15 individuals winning the merit awards.
  4. To excel in team sports requires more than just individual excellence. All the players in the team have to gel and work in unison for the team to excel. An example is the 4x100m men’s athletics relay team at the Laos South East Asian Games. As individuals they were not able to break into the top three at the SEA Games. But with rehearsed teamwork and understanding they managed to break the 40 sec. barrier for the relay, setting a new national record of 39.82 sec. Well done to all the teams receiving their awards. Even though as individuals you may not have been the best or fastest, you have shown that by working as a team you can still be best. Of course, our individual award winners deserve our congratulations too, as they have proven to be the best among their peers.
  5. Our special congratulations go to winners of our main awards for 2009 where we have a good mix of new and familiar faces. We have first time Sportwoman of the Year Feng Tianwei. She has built upon her sterling performance in the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, and one year later, has progressed up the rankings to stand at World No. 2. She, deservingly is the Sportswoman of the Year. She is only 23 years old, and we expect to hear a lot more of her in the years to come.
  6. Henry Tan on the other hand is a legend among the bowling fraternity. He came to prominence when he finished runners-up in the World Cup in 1970 and was twice Sportsman of the Year, in 1970 and 1975. He switched to coaching, and was Coach of the Year in 1983. He is Coach of the Year for 2009.
  7. A very young athlete who has improved so much that she is now competing successfully with her seniors is Quah Ting Wen. At 16 years of age she won the Most Valuable Female Athlete Award at the 2009 Asian Youth Games with her four gold medals, and Best Female Athlete Award at the 2009 South East Asian Games with her five gold medals. Today at 17 years of age she holds 14 national records and 5 South East Asian Games records. Not only has she been inspirational in the pool to our younger athletes, she has shown leadership and maturity beyond her young years. The Committee therefore felt that she is deserving of a Special Award this year, for the Most Inspiring Young Athlete.
  8. Our two young winners of the Sportsboy and Sportsgirl of the year awards are Darren Choy and Elizabeth Yin. I am sure we will also be hearing a lot about them in the years ahead. They are already world champions, Darren for the Byte CII for 2009 and 2010, and Elizabeth Yin for Byte in 2006 and Laser 4.7 in 2008.
  9. My congratulations to all the winners of the Singapore Sports Awards. My thanks also go to all the stakeholders, for without the support of the coaches, families, employers, schools, NSAs, SSC, media and the sponsors the athletes would not be where they are today.
  10. In a little more than two months, Singapore will welcome the athletes and officials of 204 NOCs to the inaugural Youth Olympic Games. Our Team Singapore athletes will be taking centre stage in the twelve days of competition. You the coaches, NSA officials, sports administrators from SSC, parents, supporters and even the media all have a part to play in the Games. You can be good hosts to all the athletes, officials, media and visitors you meet at the venues. “Let’s champion a smile…and bring on a cheer at the Singapore 2010″. This will be our message to all Singaporeans. So when our YOG visitors leave our shores, they can do so with fond memories and an unequalled experience at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. I am sure we can achieve this.
  11. It leaves me now to thank Annabel Pennefather who chaired the Organising Committee from the the Singapore National Olympic Council and the Singapore Sports Council for the Singapore Sports Awards ceremony tonight; our sponsors for tonight’s event the Singapore Totalisator Board, Singapore Airlines, Asia Pacific Breweries and NTUC Fairprice Co-operative Ltd. Thank you all for making 2009 such a good year for sports.

Have an enjoyable evening. Thank you.

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