SNOC President Mr Tan Chuan-Jin with the outgoing vice-presidents Mr Low Teo Ping (left) and Ms Annabel Pennefather (right)

06 Aug
2018

Coming clean with our Vice-Presidents

Category: Olympic Games , SNOC

Two of our vice-presidents say goodbye to SNOC as their long years of contribution come to a close. We ask them to recall their most memorable moments as sport officials…and come clean about some secrets.

Ms Annabel Pennefather

Q: Which sport puts you to sleep? Be honest. Please.
A: Any sport which requires me to stay up and watch past my bedtime.

Q: Having met so many sportspeople around the world, have you ever had a star-struck moment? Who was it with? 
A: I would say it was meeting Bobby Charlton during the International Olympic Committee (IOC) session held in Singapore in 2005, when IOC voted on the host city for the 2012 Olympic Games. England won the vote to be the host city and I had the opportunity to meet and chat with a football icon whose heroics in football I used to hear my parents speak about when I was about 10 years old.

Annabel was the Chef de Mission for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games contingent

Q: What was your most emotional moment at SNOC? What made you cry?
A: When I walked into the stadium at the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games to the deafening roar of the welcoming spectators. So many thoughts rushed through my mind that it just brought tears to my eyes. Here I was at the birth place of the Olympic Games. The Olympics was also in my family’s sporting heritage as my late father had led Singapore’s men’s hockey team at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. When I accompanied him to the airport for the team’s send off at the age of eight, I just wanted to be on that plane with them, and now I was at the Olympics.

I also had the honour of being the first female Chef de Mission appointed by the SNOC to lead the Singapore contingent at an Olympic Games in Athens.

Q: What is the most bizarre sport you have witnessed during your time at SNOC?
A: There are a number of sports which one may describe as “interestingly unusual”, such as sports which may only be played or practised by a host country, and not by other competing countries. When this has happened I have always endeavoured to watch some of these sports to better understand the rules and to respect the athletes who have mastered those skills.

Q: What is the best compliment, and the worst insult you’ve gotten during your time at SNOC?
A: Best compliment – when a leading athlete said I had been helpful in addressing an issue which could have impacted negatively on the athlete’s performance.

Worst insult – when someone assumed that if I was a VP of our Olympic body, I must be male and used the prefix “Mr” in an invitation which was addressed to me.

Q: If there was one thing you could do again at SNOC, what would it be?
A: Stay in a Games Village with the athletes

Q: How would you describe your time with SNOC in a sentence?
A: It’s been an enriching and fulfilling honour to serve our athletes and Singapore

Mr Low Teo Ping

Q: Which sport puts you to sleep? Be honest. Please.
A:  I don’t think any sport is boring. Every sport has its own unique characteristics. At the end of the day, what is really great about sports is that there’s always victory and defeat. You can always see the raw emotion of the players – that’s what make sports really what it is.

Q: Having met so many sportspeople around the world, have you ever had a star-struck moment? Who was it with?
A: If there’s one person, it would have to be Jonah Lomu. He’s huge – I have to look up at him when I speak to him. Although he was a man of such physical presence, he was a soft character at the same time. When I had a chat with him, he really exudes a certain softness and kindness.

Teo Ping as chef de mission for the 2016 Olympic Games contingent celebrates with Singapore’s first gold medalist, Joseph Schooling (right)

Q: What was your most emotional moment at SNOC? What made you cry?
A: There are two moments. It may sound very hackneyed, but both involved Joseph Schooling. The first time when he won a silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – the first time a Singapore athlete won a swimming medal at the event. I happened to be Chef de Mission for that Games.

The next time was when he won the historic gold medal at Rio, where I was also Chef de Mission, setting an Olympic record at the same time. It was tears of joy and relief, not only for myself, but for Singapore. It was a breakthrough for Singapore to win at that level, so those were really momentous moments.

On a lighter note, one of the most memorable moments I had was at Rio 2016, when I became a mosquito repellent salesman because of the Zika threat during the Games. And I learnt that the safest place to be in during a terrorist attack is the broadcast centre, because they want to make sure that the attacks are being broadcast to the world, so they won’t attack the centre!

Q: What is the most bizarre sport you have witnessed during your time at SNOC?
A: If there’s one sport that I find really hard to appreciate, it’s probably silat. I’ve never been able to fully understand the point system. When I watch silat, I go with the flow – when other people cheer, I also cheer. Personally I find it very difficult to appreciate it.

Q: What is the best compliment, and the worst insult you’ve gotten during your time at SNOC?
A: Best compliment – I’m not there to receive compliments, so I’m a little oblivious to them. As sport administrators, we deliberate and make our decisions behind closed doors. No one comes up to you and say good job. As long as you do a good job and no one complains or say anything untoward, that itself is a tremendous compliment.

Worst insult – It’s not so much an insult, but some people with self-interest sometimes make the comment that I don’t know what I’m doing. But you take it in your stride as part and parcel of the job. After all it’s not a job where I’m being paid for it. You’re never perfect but you do the best you can. It’s not something that really bugs me.

Q: If there was one thing you could do again at SNOC, what would it be?
A: Whatever that was needed to be done, has been done. I don’t think there’s anymore for me to do again. My wish list in sports has been fulfilled during my time as vice president. I’ve been to five Olympics, and all the other major games. All of them have yielded tremendous achievements for Singapore.

Q: How would you describe your time with SNOC in a sentence?
A: It’s been a very satisfying and fulfilling experience, and also a great opportunity to be involved with sports at the highest level.