For Singapore, it was a record year for medals at the 18th Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne Australia in March 2006. Not only did the country win 18 medals, including 5 golds, it won on the efforts of some of its youngest athletes. Of the 63 athletes who went to the Games, about 30% were less than 19 years old. Moreover, the country qualified more women for the Games than in the past, thanks to the National netball team’s victory at the Asian Netball Championships. Singapore also qualified its first gymnast, 17 year-old Ho Wah Toon, for the Games.
Seventy-one countries were represented at the Commonwealth Games, and Singapore was cautious in sending off its athletes, especially in view of the country’s better-than-expected results in Manchester in 2002. Surpassing the Manchester total of 13 medals wouldn’t be impossible, advised Singapore National Olympic Council President Teo Chee Hean, “but we must realize that it will be difficult….Do your best and do so in the true spirit of sportsmanship.”
Taking the Minister’s advice to heart, Singapore’s athletes won more medals for the country than ever before in the 12 previous trips to the Commonwealth Games. The women’s table tennis team was able to wave the flag high, thanks to strong performances by Zhang Xueling, Li Jiawei, Tan Paey Fern, Xu Yan and Zena Sim.
Not only did they win the team gold medal, Zhang Xueling won the gold medal in ladies singles while Li Jiawei picked up the silver. Together, Zhang and Li took the gold in ladies doubles while teammates Tan Paey Fern and Xu Yan claimed the silver medal. In mixed doubles, Zhang Xueling won the gold here as well with Yang Zi while Li Jiawei and Cai Xiaoli were silver medalists. The men’s team also won a silver medal for Singapore as did badminton’s women’s doubles team of Jiang Yanmei and Li Yujia. Competing in mixed doubles with Hendri Saputra, Li Yujia won a bronze medal as well.
Singapore’s shooters also outperformed expectations. On Shaw Ming won Singapore’s first gold medal in shooting at the Commonwealth Games in the 25m centre fire pistol event. Bronze medals were won by Venessa Yong in the 10m air rifle ladies single event and by Zhang Jin and Ong Jun Hong in the mens pair 10m air rifle. Venessa Yong also won a bronze with partner Zhang Jingna in the ladies pair 10m air rifle.
The victories at the Melbourne Games were confirmation of Singapore’s new commitment to sports, and the determination of its athletes to make their mark in the world arenas.