The goal was clear but the path was not.

The goal was clear but the path was not. When Singapore set out to end its 48-year wait for an Olympic medal, it did not expect the challenges and hurdles which would come its way. In its quest for a medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Singapore sports went through battles few in the country had fought and won. It was a journey which led to two bronzes in London 2012 and Joseph Schooling’s landmark gold medal in Rio 2016.

Project 0812: The inside story of Singapore’s journey to Olympic glory chronicles the dramatic untold story of this struggle, celebrating both the strength of the human spirit and also the closed-door intrigues behind the success of the table tennis team. For the first time, it reveals the tensions which hobbled the team in the lead-up to Beijing and the colourful aftermath when Singapore won a historic silver medal.

In the hands of Singapore Literature Prize-winning author Peh Shing Huei, the behind-the-scenes stories come alive, offering insights into a global quest which stretched from Portugal to Japan and from Brazil to China. Project 0812 is an absorbing and fascinating chronicle of Singapore’s unprecedented journey to Olympic glory, from Beijing to London to Rio de Janeiro.

Timeline

Timeline

From Rome to Rio: How Singapore put together its unprecedented attempt for Olympic glory at the Beijing 2008 Olympics and beyond

The Athletes

The Athletes

The 30 chosen ones for Project 0812, from badminton, table tennis, sailing, shooting and swimming

The Officials

The Officials

The eight men behind Singapore's first Olympic medal in 48 years

Chapter Previews

You will read about a fascinating journey in the world of sport. It is not easy to win medals, especially with a small population. It requires the constant pursuit of excellence, teamwork and discipline.
Jacques Rogge
Honorary President, International Olympic Committee
  • Forewords

    By Deputy Prime Minister & Coordinating Minister for National Security and SNOC patron Teo Chee Hean, and Speaker of Parliament and SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin.

  • Introduction

    Ninety minutes before he was due on stage, Tan Howe Liang limped over to his manager Chua Tian Teck and whispered in Malay: “My legs. My legs are cramped. I cannot walk.” But Tan still had a chance for silver.

  • Chapter 1:
    The Long Wait

    She planted a trademark forehand smash across the table to inch ahead by a point. It was 9-8 in the decider and Li Jiawei was two points from a victory that would send her into the table tennis final of the 2004 Olympic Games.

  • Chapter 2:
    An Extra Push

    It was the time of the year again when SNOC would hold its annual general meeting. In 2006, the pre-meeting took on greater significance than usual. Beyond just the usual annual appraisal, the discussion would reflect on four years – an Olympic cycle – of work. The talk would take a somewhat unexpected turn.

  • Chapter 3:
    Of Shuttlers, Sailors, Shooters…and a Swimmer

    Once the funding for Project 0812 was secured, there was little time lost for the four NSAs to get their athletes ready for the biggest sporting event in the world. They had less than two years before the Beijing Olympics opened.

  • Chapter 4:
    The Crown Jewels

    On the west bank of the picturesque Shichahai – a group of three imperial lakes that date back to the 12th century – sits a sports school that bears the name of the famous waters in Beijing. It was a scouting mission unheard of in the ping pong world.

  • Chapter 5:
    When Stars Collide

    She paused, took a deep breath and tried to stem the tide. It didn’t work. The tears streamed down her cheeks. “For three months in 2008, I led a life that wasn’t fit for humans,” she said, choking, as faded memories were refreshed.

  • Chapter 6:
    The Silver

    When the Singapore women’s table tennis team arrived in Beijing a week before the opening of the Olympic Games in 2008, it was a chiselled team, sharpened perfectly for battle. The team was ready.

  • Chapter 7:
    From Beijing to London

    It is an unwritten assumption in sports that the most exciting and sought after matches are the finals. But as is sometimes the case in the unscripted world of sports, the best need not be the last.

  • Epilogue:
    The Golden Rio

    It was the summer of 2008 and the Schoolings decided it was time to show young Joseph, their only child, the greatest stage that an athlete can aspire to.

What people are saying about the book

Project 0812 charts the ups and downs of all who were involved in striving for the most coveted prize in sport in modern times – an Olympic medal. This book shows the way for smaller nations to compete with the big boys in sport.
H.R.H. Tunku Imran
President, Olympic Council of Malaysia, and Member, International Olympic Committee
I just could not put down this book. I read it twice and felt almost a part of the story. It is amazing to learn how some visionary Singaporeans could change history through sheer determination and very good planning. This book recounts the path to reaching what would seem as an impossible goal and the book also provides the juicy background intrigues leading to a climatic success.
Adham Sharara
Honorary President, International Table Tennis Federation
This book is a must-have for anyone interested in sports. It tells the untold story of the pursuit of the Singapore Olympic dream, of one day seeing another Singaporean on the Olympic podium after 48 years. It details the battles, both inside and outside the sports halls, of those involved in Project 0812 and their foresight and commitment to glory.
Marc Lim
News Editor, The Straits Times

Where to buy

Get your copy of Project 0812 from a bookstore near you.