The 28th SEA Games, held in Singapore over the past two weeks, saw the island’s best SEA Games gold medal haul ever. In this story, we speak to four volunteers who recall the rush of excitement that came with the scale and scope of the games. Images from the opening ceremony were shot by photographer Michael Chan.
After 22 years, the SEA Games returned to Singapore this year, a few months short of her 50th birthday. It has been a more than spectacular gold rush for Team Singapore, with a total gold medal haul of 84, beating its previous best haul in 1993, with 50 gold medals.
Swimmer Tao Li attained Singapore’s 50th gold medal after winning the 100m women’s backstroke event, but it was swimmer Quah Zheng Wen who achieved the 51st gold at the 400m individual medley. Shanti Pereira sprinted to victory in the women’s 200m final, attaining Singapore’s first track gold at the Games and became the first female sprinter to achieve a gold since the acclaimed Glory Barnabas at the 1973 Games. Pereira won the race in a time of 23.60s, establishing a personal best and national record. Of course, the pool saw its fair share of action, with a haul of 23 gold medals.
This year, the Games involved an estimated 7,000 athletes and 17,000 volunteers. Two City Harvest Church members were among the volunteers: Lulu Lok, 25, a first aider at the Games, came across the recruitment through announcements made at the hospital she worked at.
Lok found the experience refreshing. “Some of the participants were really young, but when I see how they prepare for the competition, their spirits were really uplifting. They may be young, but they’re really out to do their best and do their country proud,” she said.
While she had previously been involved as a first aider in several marathons, Lok stated that the atmosphere at the Games was something she had not experienced before, with “people from different countries with different cultural backgrounds gathering and sharing the same sportsmanship spirit to do the best for their country.”
O School dancer Theresa Yee was the Assistant Show Choreographer for both the opening and closing ceremonies for the Games. She was involved in helping to choreograph dance movements and formations, and to conduct rehearsals for the performers.
Along with the Assistant Chief Show Choreographer Ryan Tan, Yee and three other choreographers formed the choreography team. Having participated in a similar role for the National Day Parade twice, Yee said, “Both were big-scale productions, but what differed was the magnitude of responsibilities given. The SEA Games required more work to be done, more creative juices to be squeezed out, more training to be conducted and more rehearsals to curate.”
Roger Ng and Gloria Goh, members of City Harvest Church, run Entree Media. They were the Camera Directors for the Opening and Closing ceremonies at the Games. “The highlight for us was being able to execute what we had been rehearsing and working on, to obtain the satisfaction of accomplishing a show of this scale—it’s been 22 years since Singapore hosted the SEA Games,” they told City News.
With the 28th SEA Games coming to a conclusion today, Singapore celebrates its best Games performance ever and everyone—athletes, volunteers and supporters—played a part to make it happen.
This story was updated on June 16, 2015 at 8.40pm.