Sport Hall of Fame honours three Team Singapore athletes for their grit, glory and give-back
08 Aug 2017
More than 6,000 people witnessed the induction of three Team Singapore athletes into the Sport Hall of Fame for their exceptional sporting achievements at the world-level and their contributions to the community, at the finale celebration of GetActive! Singapore 2017.
At the 9th year of induction, TeamSG swimmer and Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling, Team SG equestrian and Paralympic silver medallist Laurentia Tan, and TeamSG swimmer and Paralympic bronze medallist Theresa Goh were inducted into the roll of honours.
Established in 1985, the Sport Hall of Fame honours Singapore’s top athletes who have excelled in their sporting performances and instilled national pride among Singaporeans. In addition to their extraordinary pursuits in sport excellence, the Hall of Famers’ ability to inspire and nurture our younger athletes to emulate their predecessors, and also to serve as role models that the local community look up to, are equally significant.
To date, 55 top sportsmen and women who have displayed grit and resilience, brought glory to Singapore and inspired the nation since the 1950s, have been inducted into the Sport Hall of Fame, including Benedict Tan, C Kunalan, Feng Tianwei, Naomi Tan, Wang Yuegu and Yip Pin Xiu who welcomed the new inductees at the ceremony.
Said Guest-of-Honour, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Grace Fu, “I would like to congratulate Joseph, Laurentia and Theresa for their outstanding sporting achievements. Through years of hard work, perseverance and commitment to excellence, their efforts have placed Singapore on the global sporting map. I am sure they will continue to make Singapore proud and inspire the next generation of athletes to strive for even greater heights!”
Mr C Kunalan who was inducted into the Sport Hall of Fame in 2002 added, “Theresa, Laurentia and Joseph, the latest Hall of Fame Inductees truly deserve their place in Singapore’s loftiest sports palace of recognition for their contribution to sport and society. A simple advice to them to ensure that the high altitude will not cloud reality - I hope that they stay grounded with our sporting community and Singapore society, and continue to serve them well.”
Olympian Joseph Schooling was instrumental in rewriting Singapore’s sporting history as he bagged Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, beating swim legend Michael Phelps, László Cseh and Chad le Clos, with a new Olympic record of 50.39 seconds in the 100 metres Butterfly. The nation came to a standstill to watch him race, celebrated as he touched home and sang Majulah Singapura with pride and in awe as the Singapore flag was raised above the flags of three countries that were tied in a three-way silver. With overwhelming pride in the heart of every Singaporean, he has inspired the nation to dare to dream and has proven that we can punch above our weight if we pursue our dreams relentlessly, with commitment and perseverance.
Joseph embarked on his journey of record-breaking feats in 2014 with a silver in the 100 metres Butterfly – Singapore’s first swimming medal at the Commonwealth Games. Building on that success, he clinched the gold medal in the same event at the Asian Games, breaking the Games record in the process. In 2015, Joseph competed in nine events at the 28th SEA Games, smashing all nine Games records with gold medals in the presence of a jubilant home crowd, adding memorable golden moments to the nation’s jubilee year celebrations. In the same year, he clinched Singapore’s first ever podium finish at the FINA World Championships with a bronze medal in his pet event. This year, he retained his bronze medal at the World Championships despite facing stronger competition, which only makes him more determined to bounce back to achieve his targets in the years to come.
Beyond his illustrious sporting achievements and intensive training, Joseph finds time to give back to the community during his short breaks in Singapore, through donations, fund-raising initiatives, clinics and engagement sessions for non-profit organisations such as Make-A-Wish Foundation Singapore, The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, and the Eurasian Association. He hopes to set an example with his actions that will inspire others to give back to the society.
Said Schooling, “To be inducted into the Sport Hall of Fame at 22 years old, and being associated with an exclusive group of top Singaporean athletes is an utmost honour. This is not a recognition for my personal achievements but also for the unwavering support from my family, friends and coaches who have contributed to my sporting journey. Recollecting how the nation was beaming with pride and unity in 2016 after I won Singapore’s first ever Olympic gold medal, I hope to be able to continue breaking new grounds to keep the inspiration alive, to encourage the next generation to believe in dreaming big and making them a reality.”
Paralympian Laurentia Tan, who has hearing impairment and cerebral palsy, started horse-riding as a form of physiotherapy when she was five years old. She took an amazing two short years to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, bringing home two bronzes in the Individual and Freestyle events. They were Singapore’s first medals and Asia’s first equestrian medals at the Paralympic Games. At the 2012 London Paralympic Games, she was Singapore’s sole medallist at the Games, as she defended her bronze in the Individual event and clinched a silver medal in the Freestyle event.
Laurentia is an ambassador for the National Gallery’s ‘My Masterpiece’ series, in which she exhorted and celebrated the ties of kinship and of the strength that her family and friends give her, a value she hopes would permeate every level of society. Laurentia is the only Asian amongst the eight accomplished Solidarity Ambassadors for the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, helping the International Federation with sustainable development of equestrian sports around the world.
Said the 38-year-old, “To have my sports career and its legacy forever be a part of Singapore’s history is an amazing honour and very, very humbling. I feel really blessed. It is my love and passion for horse-riding that I am here.”
Holder of several world and FESPIC Games (now known as Asian Para Games) records in 18 years of competitive swimming, Paralympian Theresa Goh, who was born with spina bifida, has amassed more than 30 gold medals from meets and championships around the world. At the young age of 14, she clinched a hefty six gold and two silver medals at the 2001 ASEAN Para Games, where she broke the world record in the SB4 50 metres Breaststroke, which was eclipsed by her better performance in the 2008 ASEAN Para Games with a record of 52.62 seconds.
At her Paralympic debut in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, Theresa finished a laudable fifth in the S5 100 metres Freestyle. At her next appearance at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, she narrowly missed a bronze in the S5 200 metres Freestyle, despite clocking a new personal best and a national record of 3 minutes 14.22 seconds. Her unfaltering tenacity to continue to strive for success finally paid off at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games with her long-awaited Paralympic medal – a bronze in the SB4 100 metres Breaststroke. Her heats timing was an Asian record at 1 minute 54.50 seconds.
Said Goh, “It's truly an honour to be inducted into the Sport Hall of Fame, to be amongst some truly amazing people who have played a huge part and who still continue to play a huge role in Singapore sports today."
In spite of her busy schedule, Theresa lends her time and voice to community give-back and social causes close to her heart. She gives motivational and inspiring talks to schools, community groups and corporates, and is an ardent supporter of Cat Welfare Society.