Joseph Schooling, Feng Tianwei, Quah Ting Wen – these are familiar faces Singaporeans have supported and encouraged in international competitions and the Olympics for the past few years. And at the upcoming Tokyo Games, Singaporeans can expect these seasoned competitors to make their mark in the sport of their choice.
But at the same time, young Singaporean athletes have proven themselves, with 17 of 23 athletes making their Olympic debuts this year.
It is also the first time that the Singapore team has been granted the right to compete in 12 sports, surpassing the seven sports in which Singapore participated in the 2016 Games and nine in 2012.
Singapore’s performance in diving, horseback riding and marathon swimming this year is also unprecedented. If that isn’t worth being blown away, we don’t know what it is.
The path to the Tokyo Olympics, which was postponed from last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been fraught with uncertainties, but the Games are scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8.
Singapore team officials said they will do everything possible to ensure the safety of the athletes, with every member of the team being fully vaccinated. The team arrived in Japan on June 27 and were based in Shimada City, Shizuoka Prefecture.
All eyes for the next few weeks will undoubtedly be on Schooling, 26, in hopes of defending his Olympic gold in the 100m butterfly. But whatever the outcome, we would be sure to cheer on all of our Singapore team athletes next month, and a victorious homecoming will just be another feather in the hat for our National Day celebrations on the 9th. August.
Who: Veronica Shanti Pereira, 24
Event: 200m women’s sprint
Pereira is Singapore’s only representative athlete this year in the sport of track and field. The Singapore University of Management graduate qualified for the Olympics through a wild card placement as she was the top-ranked female athlete for the event. The 24-year-old currently holds the national records in the women’s 100m and 200m sprints. The Olympics mark his first high-level 200m race since the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEA).
Who: Loh Kean Yew, 24
Event: Badminton – Men’s Singles
World number 42 Loh aims to win a medal for Singapore in its first Olympics. The furthest the nation has reached in the badminton Olympics was when Ronald Susilo qualified for the last eight in Athens in 2004. The Penang-born commuter was a men’s singles silver medalist at the 2019 SEA Games and turned heads as he defeated two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan at the Thailand Masters. The 24-year-old will also be the flag bearer for Singapore, along with paddler Yu Mengyu, at the opening ceremony.
Who: Yeo Jia Min, 22
Event: Badminton – Women’s Singles
Yeo started playing badminton at the age of seven, which sparked his love for the sport. A sign of great things to come, she topped the World Badminton Federation (BWF) World Junior Rankings at the age of 18, making her the first Singaporean to do so. In 2019, she reached the quarter-finals of the World Championships and also won the 2019 Hyderabad Open women’s singles title. In an interview with BWF last year, she said: “I didn’t still haven’t achieved what I want, there is still a lot I can work on and improve on to bring out the best in myself. “
Diving – Aquatic
Who: Jonathan Chan, 24
Event: Diving – Men’s 10m Platform
Chan is the first Singaporean diver to qualify for the Olympics, following his excellent performance in the 10m platform final at the 2019 Asian Diving Cup in Kuala Lumpur. Chan started gymnastics at the age of five, but then turned to diving. Her sister, Kimberly Chan, 27, was also a former national diver. But Chan doesn’t feel any pressure for the upcoming competition. “I really go to the Games to enjoy the whole experience rather than stressing out or being stressed out by [getting a medal]. “
Who: Freida Lim, 23
Event: Diving – Platform 10m Women
Following her teammate Chan’s feat, Lim learned that she had qualified for the Olympics late in the game on June 22. This makes her the first diver in Singapore history to qualify for the Olympics. Lim and Chan, who share the same coach, have set themselves a goal of doing well enough to advance to the semi-finals of the Games. However, Lim said, “If I can go anywhere near my best, I will be very happy.”
Who: Caroline Rosanna Chew, 27
Event: Equestrian – Individual Dressage
Chew will go down in history as the first athlete to represent Singapore in equestrian sports at the Olympics. The SEA Games medalist was given the opportunity due to a last minute withdrawal from New Zealand.
At the Dressage Grand Prix at Le Mans, France, which decided who would be New Zealand’s replacement, the lawyer set a personal best of 69.674, beating Malaysian Qabil Ambak for the final position.
Who: Amita Marie Nicolette Berthier, 20
Event: Fencing – Women’s foil
Another historic achievement, Berthier is the first Singaporean fencer to participate in the Olympic Games.
The two-time SEA Games gold medalist (in 2017 and 2019) took the spot after a fierce victory over the host country in the Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. In an interview then, Berthier dedicated the victory to his late father: “I made a promise five years ago when he passed away that I would go to the Olympics, and I knew he was there with me, watching over me all day today. “
Who: Kiria Tikanah Abdul Rahman, 20
Event: Fencing – Women’s Epee
Kiria is the second fencer to qualify for the Olympics after Berthier, and the first épée fencer to make it to the competition. The National University of Singapore (NUS) undergrad is also the reigning SEA Games champion in the same event. Fun fact: only two other fencers in Singapore history – James Wong and Ronald Tan – made it to the Olympics, to the Barcelona Games in 1992. However, they didn’t have to qualify and were successful because they were the best shooters in Singapore.
Who: Tan Sze En, 20
Event: Gymnastics – Individual General Competition
Despite having to undergo surgery for a shoulder injury in 2018, Tan rebounded to give an outstanding performance at the 2019 Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, solidifying her place at the Games.
Tan, who studies at Stanford University, is only the second gymnast to qualify for the Games in Singapore history, the first being Lim Heem Wei in 2012.
Who: Joan Poh, 30
Event: Rowing – Women’s Single Scull
Coaches had previously told Poh she was too short to row successfully, but the 1.66m athlete never gave up on her Olympic dream. In addition to being Singapore’s second representative for sports at the Olympics, Poh is also a nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
“Fortunately, rowing is an older age sport, so… I don’t think about relaxing,” Poh said in a commentary. interview with The Straits Times. “I hope that with two rowers at back-to-back Olympics, the government can start to look at rowing and see if the sport can really take off from here. I think we can… And I am happy to play my part. “
Who: Ryan Lo, 24
Event: Sailing – Laser Men
Lo secured her place at the Olympics in the Asian qualifiers in April, following in the footsteps of her sister, Lo Man Yi, who represented Singapore at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Sailing is a family activity, father and older brother de Lo also being involved in sports. In the last two SEA Game campaigns, the athletic excellence scholarship holder has won a total of four gold medals.
Who: Kimberly Lim, 25, and Cecilia Low, 29
Event: Sailing – Female 49er FX
Lim and Low were among the first to receive a notification that they had qualified for the Games in December of last year. The duo won gold at the 2018 Asian Games in the new 49erFX class with one race to go.
In an interview last year, the pair were not disappointed with the postponement of the Games as it gave them more time to prepare “because we are kind of a new team in the circuit”.
Who: Adèle Tan, 22
Event: Shooting – Women’s 10m Air Rifle
Tan was the favorite to qualify for this year’s Olympics, following her outstanding performance at the 2020 H&N Cup in Munich, where she not only won gold but also set a new national record.
The NUS student, who studies psychology, also won two bronze medals at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.
Swimming (open water)
Who: Chantal Liew, 22
Event: Swimming – Women Open Water
Liew made history when she qualified for the Olympics, having placed 29th out of 40 swimmers in the Olympic swimming qualifiers for the Fina Marathon last month. She finished the 10km race in 2 hours 12 minutes and 20 seconds and was the top Asian finish after two Japanese swimmers. This meant Liew was able to land the only continental quota spot available for Asia at the Games. Prior to the announcement of his qualification, Liew intended to retire after this year’s Olympics.
Fun fact: Liew shares the same birthday as Singapore on August 9.
Who: Clarence Chew, 25
Event (s): Table tennis – Men’s singles
Chew is the first Singapore-born paddler to qualify for a men’s singles table tennis event at the Olympics. He beat compatriot and SEA Games champion Koen Pang in the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament in Doha in March, earning his place at the Games.
Who: Lin Ye, 25
Event (s): Table tennis – Ladies ‘singles, Ladies’ team
Lin Ye was 19 when she beat tennis mainstays Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu (who also represent at the Games) in the women’s doubles title.
In March of this year, she teamed up with Zeng Jian to win silver in women’s doubles at the Oman Open.