Chee Swee Lee
Starting her track career at the age of 10, Chee Swee Lee soon made a name for herself at school and club events. Winning numerous awards as a schoolgirl, Swee Lee was honoured to represent Singapore at the 1969 SEAP Games in Burma. Only 14 years old, her silver medal win in the 400 metres confirmed her status as one of Singapore’s future greats.
In 1970, Swee Lee represented Singapore in the Asian Games, where she took 6th place in the 400 metres. Her determination to succeed showed in the 1971 SEAP Games in Kuala Lumpur when she again won silver in the 400 metres. In 1973, at the SEAP Games in Singapore, Swee Lee delighted the home crowd, claiming two silver medals in both the 400 and 800 metres. In the same year, she also took gold in the South Korean Championships.
The best was yet to come. In 1974 Swee Lee won a gold medal at the 7th Asian Games in Tehran. She set a new Games record and a Singapore national record with her time of 55.08 seconds. Swee Lee also took part in the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch that year, getting through to the semi-finals. Her performance in the Philippines Championships in Manila again brought home the gold. The next year saw her pick up the award for the 1975 Sportswoman of the Year.
Following a move to California to train for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Swee Lee suffered an injury. Although she entered the Games, the injury forced her out of the competition during the 800 metres. Although Swee Lee ran again in the 1981 SEA Games in Manila, it was to be her last major competition. She continued to compete successfully in college and club events after her move back to the US. Now retired, she is listed in the Straits Times as one of Singapore’s 50 Greatest Athletes.