Speech For Mr Bob Gambardella, Chief Of Sports Development Group, Singapore Sports Council, At The Singapore Sports Insitute Sports Science And medicine Symposium

18 May 2012

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good morning.

1 It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you to the second day of the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) Sport Science & Medicine Symposium. Let me begin by thanking all of our speakers yesterday for sharing their knowledge and expertise with us.

2 I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say; the conversations for this symposium have been thoroughly engaging and insightful. And I look forward to today's session, particularly as we explore and understand better the systems put in place by our various elite sports institutes.

3 Sports science and medicine first put down roots in Singapore's sporting landscape four decades ago. In 1971, the Sports Medicine Unit began operations with only three staff: a doctor, a physiotherapist and a nurse. A humble beginning - but we have come a long way since then.

4 The Singapore Sports Institute today employs 76 full-time staff to serve some 1,152 carded athletes. In 2008, at the Beijing Olympic Games, we had four specialists onsite at our Recovery Centre alone at the Games Village. At London this year, eight people will be taking care of our athletes and the Recovery Centre will be about three times larger than the one we had at the Beijing Olympics.

5 The evolution has not been a series of happy accidents. In the past 11 years, Sporting Singapore has completed two rounds of review, under the Committee for Sporting Singapore in 2001 and the Sporting Culture Committee in 2008. Both committees called for the formation of a world-class institute for sport to nurture and develop our athletes. Not long after, the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) was formed and in June 2011, Dr. Fabian Lim joined SSI as its first executive director.

6 The formation of SSI reflects our faith in sports science and medicine to help transform athletic potential into podium-ready performance. Sports history tells us that a sports institute can be a catalyst to drive sporting excellence.

7 For example, after a disappointing performance at the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976, Australia's first line of action was to develop an institute for elite sport - the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). At the Beijing Olympic Games, half of the 14 gold medals won by the Australian contingent were captured by athletes developed by the AIS.

8 When we first started the concept of the SSI, we identified seven guiding principles to drive us to success. For those of you who have the pleasure of joining us for a tour later, you will see these themes in action at our SSI.

9 We believe in forging Partnerships with our 65 National Sports Associations. Creating Policies that are Athlete-Centric, Developing Performance-Oriented strategies. Mapping and Expanding Coaching Development. Inspiring and Encouraging Innovation and Integration. Generating Researched-Based data and Driving Pathway-Focused journeys in sport for all.

Long Term Impact of SSI

10 Last year, Singapore Sports Council and our parent Ministry - Community Development, Youth and Sports - embarked on Vision 2030, a look at how sport could be used to drive our national priorities - to develop resilient people and create strong, united communities. I think we all know that sport does exactly that: sport does build resilient, tenacious people, an appreciation for teamwork, a commitment to purpose and a respect for leadership.

11 The preliminary recommendations for Vision 2030 were released in February. And they shone an important spotlight on the importance of Singapore Sports Institute for our existing elite athletes and our growing pool of rising community athletes. Through Vision 2030, we aim to provide a more seamless long-term athlete development (LTAD) pathway for athletes committed to competitive sport.

12 SSI will drive three core strategies over the next five years to bring Singapore closer to achieving sustained competitive excellence.

13 First, we are focused on building a strong internal team of sports coaches, staff and technical directors. Vision 2030 called for the formation of a Coaching Academy to develop professionals at all sporting levels. Great coaches translate into exceptional athletes. So, in the coming years, we will work to elevate the quality of our local coaches in the community and school sports scene. We want ensure that our aspiring sporting talents are given the best environment to realise their potential.

14 Second, we are creating a High Performance Sports Framework to enhance the development of elite athletes in Singapore. We will start by identifying our sports talents at a young age. Based on their potential to compete at various levels of the major competitions, we will put in place a long-term and systematic development plan. We want to see more of youth squad athletes making the jump to the national teams. Athletes with exceptional potential will be offered sports scholarships. We will structure, manage and measure their training programmes against the best of their international peers.

15 And last but certainly not the least; we will develop our athletes through a deeper and broader use of science and technology to give our athletes a sharper competitive edge. Through the different disciplines of sports science: nutrition, physiology, bio mechanics and psychology, we can ensure that our athletes reach their competitive peak when it matters most. Later my colleague, from the SSI, Ms. Weiling Png will share with you in more detail the role of SSI in developing our elite athletes.

16 We see this symposium as the beginning of an enduring and progressive relationship with our friends from the region. Yesterday, Singapore Sports Council signed a total of four MOUs with various partners from this symposium. I would like to thank our fellow institutes for their spirit of collaboration.

17 It would be our great pleasure to welcome you back to Singapore in 2014 when we open the doors to the Singapore Sports Hub. It will feature a 55,000-seat national stadium, an aquatics centre, and an outdoor water sports centre. It will also be the home of the new Singapore Sports Institute, and I would like to extend a personal invitation for everyone here to return for the launch of the Sports Hub.

18 In the meantime, our purpose is clear: ensure that our athletes are ready, in every sense of the word. London 2012 is just around the corner, and Rio 2016 is already in play. As specialists in your respective domains of sport, you know that the margin between a gold and silver medal can be measured in mere milliseconds. Commenting on how many medals the US would like to win at London 2012, Scott Blackmun, the CEO of the US Olympic Committee said: "We can't control how well our athletes will do; only how well they prepare."

19 I think everyone in the room has come to terms with that reality over the years. Which is why it is important that we prepare athletes for life as much as we prepare them for competition. As scientists, we prepare athletes to compete at their best. As sports administrators, we prepare our country's future leaders, teachers, coaches and sports evangelists. We prepare the athletes for lives of significance after their competitive days are over.

20 With Vision 2030, we believe that the pursuit of excellence goes beyond medals and podium finishes. Sport creates people of character - true heroes who can inspire our national spirit. So, on top of all the science and technology, we must take our athletes on a learning journey, inspired by the best principles and values of sport.

21 As I conclude, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to everyone for taking the time to share their knowledge and experience. Our work is usually carried out far from the limelight. I must also thank the organising committee, the people behind the scenes for their hard work.

22 I hope that this symposium will serve as a foundation for stronger friendships and more areas of collaboration in East Asia. To our international delegates, I wish you pleasant time in your remaining time here. For those of you who will be extending your stay through this weekend, I urge you enjoy the sights and vibrancy of Singapore's city life.

22 Thank you.

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