Medals galore, but S’pore spirit is the real SEA Games winner


Koh Kang Liang

Published: 4:17 AM, June 20, 2015
Updated: 7:57 AM, June 20, 2015

For the past month, I have been greeted each day by a banner that reads “Singapore wishes our sporting heroes all the best at the 28th SEA Games”. Even though Singaporeans are not an expressive bunch, I believe many showed support in their own small ways.

I have seen, both online and in real life, an entire nation get behind our athletes — some of whom put aside their day-to-day commitments to represent their country — despite said athletes not being world-famous the way, say, Cristiano Ronaldo is.

It was definitely heartwarming to see the Singapore spirit come to life, perhaps because of the fact that this edition of the Games was held at home. One significant example was when the PA system playing the Singapore national anthem malfunctioned during the awards ceremony at one of the swimming events: The crowd raised their voices and carried on singing the rest of the anthem.

During the period of mourning in March for the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Singaporeans were observed to be displaying more gracious behaviour. They were also united as one in their emotions and grief. In the same way, the SEA Games seems to have drawn Singaporeans closer, as has the recent Sabah earthquake.

Due to my busy schedule, I could visit the Sports Hub only last Sunday. I felt a tinge of pride as I watched the purple-shirted volunteers going all out to ensure that the events were held successfully, each of them epitomising the spirit of service to the nation. I also felt some regret at not joining them earlier.

Team Singapore is much larger than the 749-strong contingent that represented us on the field. Team Singapore includes all the volunteers and working crew, among them some as young as 13.

They have put in early mornings and late nights, and took time away from school or work, to commit to their SEA Games duties.

Let us celebrate Team Singapore for their hard work, Singaporean grit, and for uniting us as one nation.