At the 5th ASEAN Schools Games (ASG) held in Hanoi, Vietnam from 22 - 30 June 2013, the Singapore Schools Artistic Gymnastics Team and Singapore Schools Paddlers displayed tenacity, skill, sportsmanship and camaraderie.
Singapore Schools Gymnastics Team (Back row from left: Marc Koh, Sean Yeo, Christopher Khoon, Kenneth Scott Heng, Declan Pan; Front row from left: Nadine Joy Nathan, Tan Sze En, Cheryl Lam, Janessa Dai, Ashly Lau)
The Games gave 156 student athletes from 45 Secondary Schools, International Baccalaureate Schools and Junior Colleges an opportunity to pit their sporting skills against top young athletes in the region, and allowed them to experience how sports have brought ASEAN nations together.
Gymnastics Team's Quest for Championship
The Women's Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) Team scored a first by bringing Singapore its first gymnastics team gold since the inception of the multi-sport ASG. The team comprised Janessa Dai Min Yi, the team captain and a Secondary 3 student from Nanyang Girls' High, and from Raffles Girls School (Secondary), Ashly Lau Mei-Ning, 15, Nadine Nathan Joy, 14, Cheryl Lam Min, 14, and Tan Sze En, 13.
Tan Sze En dismounting from the Uneven Bars
The team did well, bringing glory to the entire contingent. Sze En, the youngest in the team, gave a strong and consistent performance and was rewarded with the silver for the All-Around Finals.
Despite being the youngest in the team, Sze En was the most be-medalled gymnast of the Singapore Schools team in the 5th ASG. Her tenacity in the face of competition pressure was evident throughout the games. On day two of the competition for the Individual Apparatus Finals, Sze En was crowned champion of the Balance Beam apparatus, and first runner-up for Uneven Bars.
Unknown to all but only to her teammates and coaches, Sze En was actually feeling the jitters. "This is my first big scale overseas competition," said the Sec 3 student. "I was a little scared at first because there are so many people at the Games, but I learnt a lot, and I enjoyed the chance to make new friends. I am glad I managed to win."
"Our girls are mentally very tough under competition stress," said Leonid Kharunzhyy, coach of the girls' team. "This is something I might not get a chance to observe during training. I know better what and how to work with them when we return to Singapore."
The Men's Artistic Gymnastics (MAG) team was led by team captain, Koh Liang Kang Marc (St Joseph's Institution). Despite being the youngest team among the MAG competitors, the boys took pride in pursuing sportsmanship and kept a positive attitude for the games. "We made it a point to participate in all the Games activities with the right attitude, identifying ourselves as one gymnastics team and went all out to cheer for the girls,' said Marc.
Paddlers Emerge Victorious Despite Tough Fight
The fighting spirit of the Table Tennis teams was no less evident. There were practically no easy wins as the paddlers often had to claw back after losing the first two games (i.e. best of five games). Our players defended the match points well and this could be largely attributed to the strong mental psyche as well as the efforts put into the detailed pre-match preparations. Under the leadership of Captains - Kerry Tan from Raffles Institution and Li Jia Xin from Raffles Girls School (Secondary), our paddlers shared tips on the opponents' style of play and helped each other devise tactics and strategies to counter the opposing teams.
12 paddlers (6 boy, 6 girls) were chosen to represent Singapore in the Games.
Despite the odds, the team achieved a total of nine medals, and topped the charts amongst all teams from the Singapore Contingent.
According to Mr Lee Wei Te, Head Of Department/Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School (Secondary), who is the Team Manager for this year's Table Tennis squad, selection trials were conducted as soon as the National School Games (NSG) concluded. After an intense and rigorous selection exercise, 12 student-athletes were chosen to represent Singapore in the Games.
"We had to balance the team against performance and renewal. We knew we were up for a tough fight but despite this, the team set very high targets for itself," said Mr Lee.
Li Jia Xin, who is the Girl's Captain and three-time veteran at the ASG, shared that "It was a wonderful experience here in Hanoi! I am thankful that my teammates were so committed. Throughout the five days of competitions, we have been really focused and although we did not better our overall results from last year, we are still very pleased with the outcomes."
The table-tennis team achieved a total of 9 medals from the 5th ASG, and topped the charts amongst all teams under the Singapore Contingent.
The entire Singapore team took pride in pursuing sportsmanship; their unity and strength of character was evident to all. They also made many friends at the games, and a few fans along the way. It will be exciting to witness these young athletes blossom in their respective sports, and how they will give back to the sport in their own way in the future.