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Speech By Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister And Minister for Defence, and President Singapore National Olympic Council at the Flag Presentation Ceremony for the 16th Asian Games Guangzhou 2010

DATE: 3 NOV 2010

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports;

Mr Low Teo Ping, Chef-de-Mission of Team Singapore to the 16th Asian Games;

Officials and Athletes;

Media Partners;

Students of Dunman High School;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

A very good evening.

  1. It was four years ago at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha when I witnessed one of the most stunning performances by a Team Singapore athlete. Unexpectedly and against all odds, Tao Li emerged from the water at the Hamad Aquatic Complex, clenched her fist and punched the air in delight as she bagged a gold medal for Singapore in the 50m butterfly event. Such moments in the major games are infrequent, unforgettable and truly inspirational.
  2. Over the last few years, our athletes have been giving us more and more reasons to cheer. The recently-concluded inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi were examples of how our athletes, and even our youth athletes, are performing better and better on the international stage. And even though not all of them end up winning medals, they have always ensured that they perform to the best of their abilities and with true grit. These are values which I hope every Team Singapore athlete will display every time they put on their competition attire.
  3. The first Asian Games was held in New Delhi in 1951. The Asian Games has since grown to become Asia’s most spectacular sporting event, where many of the world’s best athletes compete for honours and do battle in the sports arena just to have a taste of glory.
  4. Our first Team Singapore contingent was modest compared to today’s line-up. But we were already making history back then. Our very own ‘Flying Fish’, the late swimmer Neo Chwee Kok, was the first-ever gold medallist of the first ever Asian Games in 1951. He went on to grab four gold medals in total as Singapore garnered five gold medals, seven silver medals and two bronzes in our very first outing in 1951. It was a fantastic start for Singapore almost 50 years ago at the inaugural event.
  5. For the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, Team Singapore will be represented by 241 athletes and 120 officials who will be participating in 22 out of the 42 sports featured at the Games. This will be our largest contingent so far to the Asiad. 199 athletes will be making their debut in this Games. The Team Singapore contingent is relatively young, with 98 members, or 40%, who are 21 years and below.
  6. I am proud to note that more team sports have qualified on merit for the Asian Games, and this year we will be sending teams to represent Singapore in five team sports events, namely in Water-Polo, Football, Rugby (Women’s), Hockey and Dragon Boat where both the men’s and women’s teams have made the cut. I would like to take this opportunity to give special credit to the Dragon Boat teams and its sporting fraternity for showing their determination and passion for the sport in the rebuilding process over the last three years.
  7. To all Team Singapore athletes going to Guangzhou, thank you for putting in the countless hours of training and the sacrifice to make sure that our Singapore flag flies high in Guangzhou when the Games begin on 13 November.
  8. I believe that every one of you is raring to go. I know that after the outstanding performances of our athletes at the Commonwealth Games, public expectations of our athletes are high. But I am certain that all of you will draw on this energy and self-belief as you head into the competition arena with one single objective – to do your best and to do Singapore proud. I am confident that you will do your utmost to bring glory to Singapore and make us all proud.
  9. Remember that you will have the support of Singaporeans and your families, and the dedication of your coaches and officials, as you strive to do your best for the nation.
  10. I wish Chef-de-Mission Mr Low Teo Ping and Team Singapore all the very best at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou.

Thank you.

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