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Entries for May 2008

From left: Coach Zhou Shusan, Er Lee Bee Wah, President of STTA, Jing Junhong, and the victorious team pose with the Marcel Corbillon Cup.(Photo:SSC) ...

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Mention the name David Lim in Singapore swimming circles, and the aura of respect is immediately evident. A brilliant swimmer in his prime, David is a two-time Olympian and 19-time SEA Games Gold Medallist. He was also a three-time Sportsman of the Year and received the Public Service Star in 1990 for his athletic achievements. David also won the Singapore Sports Council’s Coach’s Recognition Award for High Performance Coaching in 2006.
As head coach and team manager of the Youth Olympic Games Singapore swim team, Lim spends six days a week and 10 sessions per week with Singapore’s hopefuls.

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Team Singapore at the 2009 SEA Games (Photo:Ang Peng Siong)   Singapore made history as the first country in the world to host the 1st ...;

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Rainer Ng is Singapore’s backstroke specialist. The Raffles Institution student is the current holder of the national 100m backstroke record. At only 16 then, he broke Olympian David Lim’s 7,617 day record during the FINA Championships in Rome in 2009. He also smashed records at the 2010 “A” Division National Schools’ swimming championships. A double-bronze medallist at the 1st Asian Youth Games Singapore 2009, Rainer will be looking to pit his skills against the best in the world at the coming Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

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Christian Villeneuve is 11 years old, and he's fronting the newly formed Singapore Racing Team.

An inauguration and unveiling media conference was held at HortPark for this new entry into the Asian Karting Open Championship. The season will run from June till December with races in the Philippines, Thailand etc. The team's primary reason for establishment is to groom young drivers for the future, but assuredly aim for a Top 3 finish in its debut year.

The 6-racer team is supported and sponsored by MF Global.

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In a two-part commentary, Tan Thiam Peng dissects sportsmanship and gamesmanship, how the former is a child of sports and competition but the latter was born out of wedlock. He ultimately begs to differ that they are inversely related.

Carl Ludwig Long was a national long jumper, and also a German of the Nazi era.

 In 1936, during the Berlin Olympics, Long had encouraged and gave advice to fellow long jumper Jesse Owens, a man potentially his greatest rival.

Owens was making foul jumps, but his recorded distances were way better than the rest of the field. Long went up to the African-American, and advised him to keep his cool, make a clean jump and avoid the foul, because he would then definitely win it.

Owens recounted fondly long after the incident that Long’s words helped him go on to win gold in the event - beating the German to it.

The latter was also the first to congratulate him, in front of thousands of Germans and the Führer. Owens later said the action “took a lot of courage”.

Better known as Luz Long, the man died in 1943 after an Allied invasion. As his story became public, he was posthumously awarded the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin medal, for his spirit of sportsmanship.

The medal is named in honour of the founder of the International Olympic Committee, whose Olympic creed immortalized that very spirit.

“… not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

Essentially, that is what sportsmanship is.

You cannot see it or touch it; it is intangible. But you feel it. It is something manifested by sportsmen and sports watchers to understand sports at an extra dimension.

Much has not changed since 1936.

I flipped through several dictionaries and sportsmanship reads, “behaving sportingly”, and being “fair and generous in one’s behaviour or treatment of others”.

One considers one’s disposition, towards self and others, without an obsession for winning. To many, it is the ethos of sports. The upright calls it sport morality.

Hence the first line of watchdogs is often the spectators.

Sportsmanship is no longer just a connection between rivals. Third-parties swell the status of sports.

You can say that the global audience, carrying with them multi-million dollar endorsements and worldwide fame and endearment, is the culprit for athletes prioritizing victories over staying human.

But these third-parties also protects the purist beliefs like an age-old establishment. To them, sportsmanship is like a princess in fairytales.

Without actually participating on the field, spectators can frown with disapproval, bark through the media, or even boycott teams or individuals.

That role became inevitably pronounced in 1981, during a cricket match.

New Zealand needed six runs to tie the match with Australia and push the series into a further match, and they had the opportunity to do so from the final ball. But Trevor Chappell, already regretful but will forever be remembered for this, bowled underarm along the ground intentionally to kill any hopes of a Kiwis’ revival.

The spectators were disgusted, and jeered off a triumphant Australian team.

It later even incited an angry response from New Zealand’s then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon. His counterpart, Malcolm Fraser, was also evidently ashamed.

Australia’s actions had, in sporting terms, denied their opponents a fair chance of winning. This is a crime to a sportsman. A reaction of this level reminds sportspeople that it’s not just the results that matter, but how you reach it.

Asia has seen some of the ugliest incidents of not playing in the spirit of the game.

Indonesia’s intentional own goal in the 1998 Tiger Cup was one. Last year, in the same competition, Thai players trooped off the field and refused to continue a match with Singapore, putting the situation into a farce for 14 minutes.

Against an uneasy political backdrop and the result of a controversial penalty decision, the Thais felt victimized in a foreign land, facing 55,000 charged Singaporeans.

Much of Asia was watching the ‘live’ match, supposed to be the top showcase of Asean football.

Just last month, the Korea Thomas Cup team, regarded as one of the best in the world, intentionally threw away matches in the group stage to delay a meeting with powerhouse China until the final.

They succeeded, but it was a terrible reflection of a major badminton nation.

However, it would be myopic to limit unsporting behaviour to this region.

Barbados and Grenada have also played a shameful football match in which both sides attempted to score own goals. (Don’t ask me why, it was a bizarre tournament format.)

Even in the top European leagues cheating is commonplace - they’ve just learnt the art of making it look like gamesmanship, a concept which we'll talk about next week.

Fellowship on the field however, has not been fully forgotten.

In the mad rush to win, win and win, some sportspeople still remember to slow down and see that every one on the field is not much different from themselves.

Competition brings out class, but also fellowship. The determination to win is admirable, but the courage of sportsmanship is invincible. When you can in a dignified manner ensure all competitors have an equal shot, that deserves respect.

Mallory Holtman gave her rival an equal shot.

In her Central Washington college softball match, an opponent hit a home run, but then collapsed as her knee buckled. It was the girl’s graduating year and her first ever home run, but her teammates were not allowed to help as it would make the hit void.

Then Holtman’s shining instincts kicked in.

There was no rule against opponents helping to complete the home run, so she and a teammate carried the immobile girl through all the bases - in the process eliminating her own college.

If you thought Holtman was only a fringe school player, it’s time you believe sportsmanship can run through the blood of even the best.

She’s the career home run leader in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Many at the ground were in tears, moved by the deed. This concerted display of emotions was the spectators’ agreement with Holtman’s act of putting the spirit of sport over victory.

For the good of sports, we agreed too. Such a chance rarely comes, but a simple gesture can suffice.

Right here at home, I was fortunate to witness Jurong Junior College’s (JJC) extremely inspiring contingent at an A Division final.

While huge, strong crowds can seize a stadium and devour players, a smaller contingent with a bigger heart can move the steeliest. JJC, clearly enjoying a rare occasion, did not forget it was an opportunity for fellowship.

They cheered hard for the JJC team. But wait, they also cheered for the opposing fans, the opponents, the officials, and the organizers.

The sight of the opposing fans freezing for a moment at such a warm atmosphere sent an awkwardness through me. Not forgetting at the other end was a top sports JC.

JJC reminds us that more than the competition and rivalry that sports thrive on, it is a celebration.

In the schools sports scene where a few have dominated, it was refreshing to see a poorer cousin come along to nudge the big boys, about what is the true essence of sports.

And it was their fans, the spectators, who did the job.

“… not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

Fought, they did. But many, in their quest to conquer as well, have developed a knack for going beyond the ethical, but not illegal, blurring the line of sportsman-like behaviour.

It is the evolution of sports. The result is something Stephen Potter coined “Gamesmanship”.

He experienced it himself first-hand, and since his gamesman philosophy became popular, sports have changed considerably. Athletes have become a little naughtier, injecting touches of gamesmanship into multiple sports.

Is it unsporting? Is it not morally right?

Before we take a closer look at gamesmanship next week, let’s just for now, hope that the friendship of Luz Long and Jesse Owens goes beyond being a story, but become folklore for future generations of athletes.

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Posted in: Rant and Rave
Two days of rain could not steal the fun and the occasion, as the race still went on and people still brought their families out.

The Bintan Triathlon 2008 was held 24-25 May with approximately 1,200 people from all over the world participating. Over 260 Singaporeans made the trip across to take part as well. This year featured a new race course.

In addition to the Olympic Distance (OD), the Sprint, and the Kids, the roster this time round included a Youth distance and a novelty race. Australian George Lawson clinched the OD 4 years in a row, while New Zealand's Kelley Toy took first for the women. Singaporeans also did considerably well, with several finishing in the top 3 of their age categories.

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  The Play Times went through the history books to find out how the different swimming strokes came about!   Breaststroke  ...

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Beach volleyball, beach soccer... and tchoukball. All at Novena Square.

Organised by [email protected] Square and LemLabs, the Velocity Beach Festival 2008 brings bigger action than last year. More participants and more activities are in store this time round.

Catch you there as we bring sports into the malls!

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Swim free this Sunday at your neighbourhood swimming complex!

And as part of the National Family Celebrations 2008, make it a family affair as well!

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Posted in: Swimming, Scoops
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