Speech by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin at Keppel-STTA Annual Awards
SPEECH BY GUEST OF HONOUR MR TAN CHUAN-JIN, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT AND PRESIDENT OF THE SINGAPORE NATIONAL OLYMPIC COUNCIL, AT THE KEPPEL-STTA ANNUAL AWARDS NIGHT ON FRIDAY, 19 FEBRUARY 2016 AT 7.00PM AT QIAN XI (FARRER PARK) RESTAURANT
Ms Ellen Lee, President of the Singapore Table Tennis Association
Mr Chan Hon Chew, Chief Financial Officer of Keppel Corporation
Athletes and officials
Ladies and gentlemen
It is my pleasure to join you here this evening to recognise the outstanding achievements of Singapore’s table tennis players and coaches in 2015.
Table tennis has played a key role in shaping the Olympic movement in Singapore. Our paddlers have been bringing home medals at the SEA Games and Asian Games from as early as the 1960s. Singapore’s paddlers have topped the table tennis standings as Best Performing Nation at every Commonwealth Games since the sport was introduced at the event in 2002. In 2010, our women’s team beat the favourites China at the World Team Table Tennis Championship to become world champions – still one of the biggest upsets in all of sport. Later that year when Singapore hosted the Youth Olympic Games, Isabelle Li earned our nation a silver medal. I also still remember vividly the moments when our women’s teams played their hearts at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, winning medals and rallied many Singaporeans behind them on both occasions.
These inspiring milestones are part of the STTA’s plans to develop and popularize the sport among Singaporeans. Today, over 1,000 paddlers, as young as five years old, participate in STTA’s junior programme annually. A robust junior and youth development pipeline is equally important to sustaining an elite training programme. The versatility of the sport also allows our para athletes to compete and fly our flag high at Para Games. The success of table tennis in Singapore is attributed to the hard work and efforts of the past and present generations of leaders, volunteers, athletes, coaches and everyone in the table tennis community over the years.
In 2006, the Singapore National Olympic Council mooted an idea of a more effective push towards winning a medal at the Olympic Games, which resulted in the birth of “Project 0812”. This initiative brought all stakeholders, including the STTA, together with a single purpose – to bring Olympic glory to Singapore. The “Project 0812” remains a rare initiative of such magnitude in Singapore sport where all partners involved united, took the genesis of an idea and turned it into reality. To this end, the SNOC will be publishing a book later this year which will document and preserve the heritage of a successful Olympic initiative so more people can read and learn of this can-do spirit demonstrated by the Singapore sports community.
Another example of a successful collaboration is that of Keppel and STTA’s partnership. Keppel Corporation has supported the STTA since 2011 as a main sponsor of the Keppel-Clementi Training Centre where young table tennis talents train and develop their skills. I would like to extend my appreciation to Keppel Corporation for supporting the sport and recognising the efforts and achievements of our athletes and officials in presenting tonight’s awards to them.
In a few days’ time, our national team will be heading to Kuala Lumpur to compete at the World Team Table Tennis Championship. This is one of the many competitions in their journey to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. I wish our athletes all the best, and encourage all within the community to give your full support to them. To our athletes and support staff, we will be here to support you always, whether in times of defeat or victory. Do your best, prepare well and fly our flag high.
Finally, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to all award recipients this evening. Continue to strive for greater heights and push beyond boundaries. Thank you.