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In 1947, Britain sent out invitations to almost all its colonies, dependencies and dominions, urging entries from its vast empire for the 1948 London Olympics. But one crown colony was left out: Singapore. The reason was somewhat comical. The territory did not have an Olympic council for London to send its invitation to.
The sports community in Singapore did not find the omission humorous. It was stung by the decision and the colonial government sprang into action. On May 27, 1947, the Singapore Olympic and Sports Council was created. A year later, it sent its first athlete, high jumper Lloyd Valberg, to the London Games.
Since then, the council, which was renamed the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) in 1970, has ensured Singapore has an almost constant presence in all major games around the world. The country has participated in every Olympic, Asian, Commonwealth and South-east Asia (SEA) games, except for the 1980 Moscow Olympics when Singapore joined a United States-led boycott. On four occasions, Singapore hosted the SEA Games and the country was chosen by the International Olympic Committee to hold the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010.
But the journey of SNOC in the last 70 years has not been a smooth one. For decades, it struggled with a persistent debate over a merger with Malaya. For many years through the 1980s and 1990s, SNOC’s relevance waned as the performances of Singapore athletes weakened on the global and regional stages. In 1985, a fire at its office destroyed all documents and records, leaving the council lost and, increasingly, forgetful of its own history.
This book pieces back the foundations of SNOC, retraces its stories and rediscovers its personalities. More than just an account of the athletes who did Singapore proud, Rings Of Stars And Crescent tells the behind-the-scene stories of officials who had painstakingly kept SNOC going, and thriving, for seven decades. It not only recalls the famous achievements of Tan Howe Liang, Feng Tianwei and Joseph Schooling, but also shares the lesser-known exploits of G. G. Thomson, E. W. Barker and Ng Ser Miang. It is the story of Singapore and its 70-year adventure with the Olympic movement.