Team Singapore at the SEA Games

It’s the SEA Games and Team Singapore has been flying the flag, with our athletes doing us proud at the 11-nation competition from May 5 to 17 at Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

As of May 11, Singapore is fifth in the medal tally, with 75 medals including 27 golds so far. You can check for daily updates here!

But more than medals, we love the stories that come out of the Games.

We wrung our hands over the performance on the football pitch of our Young Lions, who were sadly eliminated in the group stages, with their final match being played against arch-rivals Malaysia today (May 11).

We cheered on the Quah siblings as they continue to turn water into gold at international events, including at a new event, the 4x100m mixed medley relay. This time, sisters Quah Jing Wen and Quah Ting Wen joined brother Quah Zheng Wen and debutant Nicholas Mahabir to win the event with a time of 3:51.72.

We roared from the stands (and in front of the TV) when we saw 26-year-old national sprinter Shanti Pereira defend her 200m gold in cool fashion, breezing across the line at 22.69 seconds. Oh, did we mention that she broke the SEA Games record while doing so? Well, she did.

But perhaps one of the stories of the SEA Games is of national runner Soh Rui Yong.

Soh Rui Yong Runner
Marathon runner Soh Rui Yong has courted controversy in the past. Image source: File

Everyone loves a good comeback story.

Many Singaporeans would have heard of Rui Yong but probably for the wrong reasons. The 31-year-old distance runner has made the news for his off-field comments and antics too often in the past few years, receiving more than his fair share of brickbats and criticisms.

The two-time SEA Games gold medallist (in 2015 and 2017) butted heads with the Singapore National Olympics Council, Singapore Athletics and he was even ordered to pay $180,000 in damages after he lost a defamation case levelled against him by a fellow runner.

Some may point to his combative tone in which he airs his opinions, which can come across as arrogant and dismissive. In fact, he was even excluded from the 2019 SEA Games line-up because SNOC deemed his behaviour “unbecoming” of a national athlete.

So, his return to this year’s SEA Games has a special ring to it.

In a post that he put up on social media before heading to Cambodia for the Games, he wrote: “I recognise that my confidence may have come across as arrogance at times, and for that, I sincerely apologise. I have learned and grown from these experiences and will continue to work hard to unite all Singaporeans through my performances on the track and road.”

He added that he has decided to uninstall social media from his phone for the Games: “This will allow me to fully concentrate on my mental and physical preparation for the games. I apologise in advance for not being able to see or respond to your messages during this period. Your support means the world to me, and I will carry your love and encouragement with me as I compete.”

Uninstalling social media was a good move. Because let’s face it, social media can be a great tool to bring people together, but it can also distract, and at worst, tear people apart.

In this day and age, where everything lives forever on the Internet, we see too many people fall by the wayside because they are unable to extricate themselves from the past.

The problem with cancel culture is that sometimes, it doesn’t leave room for rehabilitation. If we criticise someone for their words and actions – however justified – it is only fair that we give them a chance to change for the better.

The jury is still out on this new, more humble version of Soh Rui Yong, but it’s good to see him back in the news for what he does best – running. On Tuesday, he came in fourth at the men’s 5,000m with a time of 14 min 48.4 sec.

Rui Yong may not have won a medal, but he has certainly won a victory in his personal journey of self-discovery.

Wild Rift, Valorant gamers win SEA Games medals, MLBB to play this weekend

More on the SEA Games, but in a slightly different field of competition: E-sports!

One group of athletes who may not be getting that much mainstream media attention are our mobile gamers. This year, Singapore sent 18 e-sports athletes to compete in three categories: League of Legends: Wild Rift, Valorant and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

Team Singapore in action against Cambodia on May 7 in League of Legends: Wild Rift. Image source: YouTube

The Wild Rift Men’s team won Singapore’s first SEA Games medal in e-sports, getting the bronze after beating Cambodia but losing to Vietnam, the eventual silver medallists.

Said Chua Wee Kiat, aka “wJ”: “We felt that we could’ve done more but at least we did achieve a bronze medal at the very least.”

Team Singapore in action against Team Indonesia in the Valorant grand finals at the SEA Games. Image source: YouTube

In Valorant, Team Singapore won Singapore’s first SEA Games gold medal in e-sports in controversial fashion. After losing the first match and trailing in the second match, the Indonesian team accused the Singaporean team of abusing a bug, sparking a technical pause which lasted till 4am this morning (May 11).

With the match set to resume later that same morning at 8am, Indonesia forfeited, giving Singapore the gold, then decided to protest again before being awarded a joint-gold medal.

Kudos to the Singapore team for their patience and their minders for doing their best in a difficult situation.

Regardless of the outcome, Singapore Esports Association Secretary General Kelvin Tan told the Pride that they were very pleased with the performances of the athletes.

He said: “We look forward to wrapping up our trip here in the 32nd SEA Games with another medal for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. Thanks also to all the e-sports fans back home in Singapore, their support has been unwavering!”

Migrant workers take a break to celebrate Labour Day

Back in Singapore, the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO), a non-profit movement that is part of Hope Initiative Alliance, organised a carnival at Kranji Recreation Centre for more than 2,300 migrant workers for Labour Day (May 1).

There, the migrant brothers enjoyed the festivities, which came with safety challenges, VR booths and even a Nerf gun tournament!

@agwosg Hello Brothers 👋 We’re back! Here are some highlights from our Labour Day Celebration at Kranji Recreation Centre brought to you by AGWO, Sowers Novena and partners! #labourday #singapore #nerf ♬ original sound – AGWO

Friends make everything better

@indrieyatie Happy for him 🥰🥰🥰 he was anxious and so do I. He planned it 1 week before. Printed out his invitations. So I can imagine how hopeful he was. I mentally prepared him too shd no one turns up. Alhamdulillah….his 2 classmates with such big heart came for Eid….once again thank u boys! ❤️ #socialechallenges #friendswithautism #autismandfriends #socialskills #keeptrying #dontgiveup #growingup #autismteen ♬ original sound – ADMT

And for a wholesome video to end this week’s Kind Take, we spotted this TikTok from a mum who has a son with autism. Aunty Indrie wrote that 19-year-old Danish had planned for a week to invite his classmates for an Eid celebration at their home and was so happy when some of them turned up… Well, the video speaks for itself!

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