Welcome Address By Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister For National Security, Minister For Home Affairs And President Of The Singapore National Olympic Council At The London 2012 Olympic Games Awards And Appreciation Dinner

25 Sep 2012

Mr Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports;

Officials and Athletes;

Sponsors and Partners;

Media Friends;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

A very good evening. This has been a good year for Singapore sports in London, at both the Olympics and the Paralympics.

2. Tonight, I am very happy to join all of you here as we celebrate the achievements of Team Singapore athletes and officials at the London 2012 Olympic Games. I also want to congratulate our Paralympians for their inspiring achievements.

3. The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of sporting achievement. And 2012 will go down in local sporting history as the first time that Singapore has won more than one medal at an Olympic Games. This year, our women's table tennis team and Feng Tianwei brought home two bronze medals to add to our silver medals from Beijing in 2008 and Rome in 1960.

4. Many Singaporeans all over the world were glued to their seats with excitement as Feng Tianwei overcame South Korea's Kim Kyung-Ah in a thrilling match that showed her grit and determination. She then took on China's world number one, Ding Ning, in the women's singles semi-final stretching her opponent to the limit, taking the match to six sets. Tianwei then bounced back from defeat to win the bronze medal with an inspiring and dominating performance against Japan's Kasumi Ishikawa.

5. Likewise, our women's table tennis team comprising Tianwei, Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu came back stronger from their semi-final loss to Japan, beating South Korea in the bronze medal match to clinch our historic second medal for the 2012 Games. Our paddlers never gave up in the face of tough competition. We are very proud of your fighting spirit. Your mental strength and fortitude exemplify qualities that we can all learn from.

6. Like other Olympic athletes from around the world, our Team Singapore athletes and officials have trained very hard, to ensure that they were at the best at the Games, to keep Singapore's flag flying high. On behalf of all Singaporeans, I would like to thank all our Olympic athletes for giving your very best and for giving us so many reasons to cheer during the Games.

7. At the 2012 Olympics, our athletes also achieved many firsts and set many records. Sailor Colin Cheng posted the highest finish ever from an Asian sailor since the introduction of the Men's Laser Standard class in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics ? an impressive showing from this first time Olympian. Gymnast Lim Heem Wei and canoeist Geraldine Lee were the first Singaporeans to qualify for their respective sports, and Helena Wong was the first female Singaporean weightlifter to participate at the Olympic Games. Joseph Schooling was the youngest Singaporean to qualify for the Men's 200m Butterfly competition with an 'A' timing. These are all outstanding achievements from Team Singapore.

8. You have blazed the trail and inspired many young people who now dare to dream even bigger because of you! In Singapore, there are many ways in which we support young athletes in their quest for sporting excellence.

9. The Singapore Sports School was set up in 2004 to provide a conducive environment for our young sporting talents as they pursue both academic studies and sports. The Singapore Sports Council and the Singapore National Olympic Council also offer different types of support to our athletes who have done well or are training for the major Games. These include defraying training-related costs, providing coaching services, insurance coverage for sports-related injuries, as well as training and education scholarships, which help our athletes balance the demands of high performance sport with personal and career development. The Programme for Athletes' Career and Education also helps prepare athletes for future careers after they have retired from competition.

10. To recognise athletes who have done well, the SNOC Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme rewards medal winners in the South East Asian, Commonwealth, Asian and Olympic Games. Last year, for example, $525,000 was awarded to 42 gold medal winners in the 2011 SEA Games. The MAP also recognises Commonwealth medallists and Asian Games medallists. The MAP reflects our recognition that the Olympics are the pinnacle of sporting achievement. For all these rewards, the respective National Sports Associations plough back a portion for future training and development. This helps to build a future pipeline of sporting excellence among the next generation of young athletes who will continue to do Singapore proud.

11. I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise the efforts of all Team Singapore officials ? coaches, NSAs representatives and SNOC and SSC officials, especially the team from the Singapore Sports Institute. I had the opportunity to visit the Team Singapore recovery centre in London, where you had created a home away from home for our Team Singapore athletes. You ensured that their needs were met so that they would be in the best condition to compete, both physically and mentally. Thank you for your tireless work behind the scenes. Our athletes would not have succeeded without your efforts.

12. To the parents, families and friends of our athletes, I am sure you are very proud of our athletes. Our athletes have repeatedly attributed their successes to your support and your steadfast commitment to their sporting careers is inspirational. Thank you as well.

13. I would also like to thank all our media friends for the comprehensive coverage of Team Singapore in the local media, which allowed Singaporeans to connect with our Olympians, and share in their joy and pain.

14. The SNOC Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Tote Board and Singapore Pools, which have been our SNOC MAP sponsors since 1993. Thank you for your continued support to sporting excellence in Singapore.

15. I would also like to express my deepest appreciation to all our sponsors and partners who contributed in one way or another to the London 2012 Team Singapore contingent ? both our Olympians and Paralympians. The training and recognition programmes are funded not just by government, but also by sponsors from the corporate world and also from individuals who feel a passion for sports and recognise its power to inspire. I hope to see more private organisations in Singapore coming forward to support our athletes.

16. Let me end by wishing our athletes all the best in your upcoming competitions as you continue to fly the Singapore flag high at major games and international sporting events. Keep up the good work!

17. Thank you.
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