C'wealth Games: S'pore 'overperformed' as badminton, table tennis, swimming get kudos
BIRMINGHAM - Heading into this year's Commonwealth Games, Richard Gordon, Singapore Sport Institute (SSI) senior director and head of high performance and athlete life, had concerns about how Singapore would fare in Birmingham.
Shooting, a sport that has brought in 23 medals since 2006, was not included this time and 50 of Singapore's 66-athlete contingent were making their debuts.
But those worries were laid to rest as the Republic's athletes finished their Commonwealth Games campaign with 12 medals - four gold, four silver and four bronze.
It was three more than the nine medals won at the 2018 edition on the Gold Coast, though Singapore had one more gold in Australia. The Republic's best showing at the Games was in Delhi in 2010, when the athletes won 11 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze medals.
Gordon said at a post-mortem of Singapore's performance on Monday (Aug 8): "I will say quite openly that we've overperformed on the targets. I was very nervous about coming to the Commonwealth Games as to how it could've turned out.
"Thankfully, it hasn't. We've performed very well in relation to the targets."
He singled out badminton, table tennis and swimming as those that impressed at the Games, pointing to how their various national sports associations had prepared the athletes well by providing them with opportunities to go for overseas training stints ahead of the competition
The paddlers also enjoyed a successful outing, winning three golds, two silvers and two bronzes, with veteran Feng Tianwei winning titles in all three events she took part in.
He also highlighted the achievements of the swimmers, who brought home two silvers courtesy of Teong Tzen Wei (men's 50m butterfly) and Toh Wei Soong (men's S7 50m freestyle).
Beyond medals, he was pleased with the swimmers' progress as they qualified for seven semi-finals and 19 finals.
Singapore's shuttlers bagged three medals this time, including a historic gold in the mixed doubles from Terry Hee and Jessica Tan.
Yeo Jia Min's bronze in the women's singles was the first medal in the event since 2002, while the shuttlers also clinched bronze in the mixed team.
Their campaign, however, was also hit by world champion Loh Kean Yew's exit in the men's singles quarter-finals. But Gordon was not unduly worried and believes the 25-year-old has the support needed to achieve his goal of a podium finish at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Gordon said: "There are things that he will learn from this and every competition. He is aiming for a big prize.
"We've helped to employ a very experienced technical director who is doing a great job and we're very confident that he is in good hands moving forward."
With a breakthrough performance by world No. 35 Hee and Tan, Gordon believes that they can look towards more than just qualifying for the Olympics and challenge for a spot in the top eight, and even a medal.
The Asian Games in Hangzhou are up next year and he acknowledged that it will not be easy given the competition in Asia, but reiterated that SSI would work closely with the Singapore Badminton Association to support them.
He said: "That (next year's Asian Games) is an important stepping stone. We will talk to them along with the technical director and coaches as to the type of support they will need to give them the best possible chance of qualifying for the Olympic Games.
"Based upon the evidence I've seen this past week, I don't see why they can't challenge for top eight, but that depends on whether we can get their world rankings up and that's dependent on their ability to compete around the circuit over the course of the next two years. But we will do everything to support them in that quest."