National bowler Jasmine Yeong-Nathan has been named Singapore’s Sportswoman of the Year.
The 20-year-old, who created history last year when she became the first Singaporean ever to win the AMF World Cup, was voted the winner by a Sports Awards judging panel.
The other contenders for the award were paddler Li Jiawei, who finished fourth in the women’s singles at the Beijing Olympics and swimmer Tao Li, who became the first Singaporea swimmer to qualify for an Olympic final and also broke the Asian 100m butterfly mark en route to her fifth-placed finish in the final.
According to a report on Newsradio 93.8FM, Yeong-Nathan won the award by seven votes to four.
The Singapore Polytechnic student was in devastating form at the 44th QubicAMF World Cup in Mexico. She not only racked up a perfect game there but also destroyed defending champion Ann-Maree Putney of Australia 263-222, 298-215 in the final.
Prior to Yeong-Nathan’s World Cup win, Singapore’s best finish in the tournament were Henry Tan and Remy Ong’s silvers in the men’s finals in 1970 and 2002 respectively.
But the Sports Awards also had several twists this year.
The panel decided there were no worthy winners this year for the Sportsman and Coach of the Year Awards.
This is the first time in the 42-year history of the Awards that there is no winner for the Sportsman Award. Bowler Remy ONg was one of the nominees. It is not known who were the other nominees.
Two known nominees for the Coach of the Year Award were national bowling Mervyn Foo, who is one of Jasmine Yeong-Nathan’s coaches, and Australian swimming coach Peter Churchill, who coaches Tao Li.
In another twist, Singapore National Olympic Council president Teo Chee Hean told Channel News Asia that table-tennis coach Liu Guodong would have easily won the Coach of the Year Award if the Singapore Table Tennis Association had nominated him.
Liu led the women’s national team to a silver at the Olympics but the achievement was subsequently clouded by shocking revelations that he had neglected the men’s squad’s preparations for the Olympics.
In fact, the men were often used as sparring partners for the women, said male paddler Gao Ning in subsequent media interviews. Nor did they not enjoy the same resources or priviliges as the women in the run-up to and during the Games.
Liu was chastised publicly by new STTA president Lee Bee Wah who hinted that his sevices might not be retained.
He eventually resigned from the STTA after expressing disgust at a new contract that he was offered, saying the terms were an insult to him.
But when contacted yesterday, Lee stood her ground and defended her association’s decision not to nominate Liu. “Coach of the Year must be naturally well-respected by all the players of the team,” she said.
Bowler Jazreel Tan won the Sportsgirl of the Year Award while the Sportsboy Award went to wushu exponent Yong Yixiang.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan