SportSG to review induction process for its Hall of Fame, after debate sparked by Joscelin Yeo's omission
Former national swimmer Joscelin Yeo's non-inclusion in the Singapore's Sport Hall of Fame (HOF) despite her stellar record sparked a debate recently. Sport Singapore said it will improve its nomination and selection process, but the 40-year-old herself was nonchalant about it.
The HOF pays tribute to Singapore’s finest sporting achievers who have represented the nation over the years, and seen as icons for their respective sports.
Since it was established in 1985, it has had over 50 inductees, including swimmers Patricia Chan and Joseph Schooling, sprinter C. Kunalan and footballer Fandi Ahmad.
However, the omission of Yeo’s name on the hallowed walls was met with surprise in recent months.
The issue was first raised by former Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) vice-president Jose Raymond on social media in January, before veteran journalist Godfrey Robert in a Business Times column last month.
The former swim queen was a dominant force in the 1990s and beyond, winning an incredible 40 gold medals across multiple SEA Games.
Yeo’s record golden haul eclipsed that of Singapore’s first Golden Girl, Patricia Chan, who won a remarkable 39 SEA Games golds from as many events between 1965 and 1973.
Yeo, who also won bronze medals at the Asian Games in 1994 and 2002, is Singapore’s only four-time Olympian and received the coveted Sportswoman of the Year award thrice (1994, 1996 and 2000).
Sport Singapore, the national sports agency, said it was “heartened to see sustained interest and the lively discussions” and that it “will make improvements to the nomination and selection process”.
In response to queries from TNP, a SportSG spokesman said: “Joscelin Yeo’s contributions to Singapore swimming and service record are noteworthy...
“The HOF committee thoroughly evaluates nominated athletes on the merits of their past performance, character and contribution to sporting Singapore.
“Views from sporting and non-sporting fraternity are sought as input to committee deliberations. The committee then arrives at a consensus on the athletes’ worthiness and timing for induction into the HOF.
“While all deserving athletes will be considered for the HOF inductions, the timing will vary.
“The committee has taken some feedback and will make improvements to the nomination and selection process, particularly with regard to widening the extent of stakeholder or public consultation.”
Yeo, who became a Nominated Member of Parliament and continued to serve the sport as a vice-president with SSA after retiring from competitive swimming, was not concerned about her omission.
'NOT CROSSED MY MIND UNTIL...'
When contacted, she said: “You know, it never did cross my mind about this until I was asked about it.
“When I swam for Singapore, it was about giving my best to the country, my family and myself. I never did it for fame, or the Hall of Fame.
“If the powers that be feel that I am not deserving of this title or honour, then that’s their call. It does not take away from my achievements over the 17 years I swam for the nation.
“It does not stop me from continuing to work to give back to the sport of swimming or the community and, in the process, having to work with those that make these decisions.
“For those who have called for my inclusion, I am humbled. Honestly, it has always been my honour to represent this great nation and that doesn’t change, title or not.”
The HOF 12-man committee for last year was headed by SportSG chairman Kon Yin Tong and included Singapore National Olympic Council secretary-general Chris Chan, former Olympian Ben Tan, TNP associate editor Leonard Thomas, former swimmer Mark Chay and SportSG chief executive Lim Teck Yin.
SportSG also highlighted that there are two pathways to gain entry into the HOF.
The first is through success at major Games and contribution to the sport. Gold medallists at Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and at the World Championship level, who fulfil eight years of service to the sport, are eligible. Olympic medallists are exempt from this requirement.
The committee will also assess the suitability of candidates as all-rounded athletes and role models.
The second pathway is for athletes who have achieved sport icon status and have served the sporting fraternity over many years.
A sport icon would be a role model in character and values, an inspiration to Singaporeans and someone who captures the imagination of the nation, with SportSG citing Kunalan and Fandi as examples.