Tan Howe Liang is Singapore’s first Olympic medallist. He won a silver medal at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games in the lightweight division. He also set an Olympic record of 155.0kg in the clean and jerk.
Howe Liang’s silver medal did not come easily. His Rome outing was his second shot at the Olympic Games, two years after winning the gold medal at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff. That same year, he had also clinched a gold at the Asian Games. Yet back then, he trained largely without a coach and even had to borrow money to fund his medal dreams.
The weightlifting legend would go on to win another gold medal in the Commonwealth Games. He also bettered his silver-medal-winning results by 20kg in the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, but his competitors had also grown stronger. Howe Liang retired from the sport as one of the rare, elite few Singapore athletes to win a medal at all major international games.