Tag Archives: Tie Yana

New dawn beckoning for Singapore’s disabled athletes

The report:

All the English dallies carried reports today on Singapore’s Laurentia Tan becoming the first Singaporean  athlete to win a medal at the Paralympic Games.

(Do not get me wrong: by this, I don’t mean that the Chinese papers did not carry news about Laurentia. It’s just that I don’t read the Chinese papers and don’t have access to them)

Laurentia, 29, who has cerebral palsy and profound deafness, won the bronze in equestrian. She was competing in the Individual Championships Test grade 1A event. 

Laruentia received congratulations from Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Community Development, Youth and Sports) Teo Ser Luck. “Singaporeans, especially our youth and disabled community, should be inspired by her. We can live our dreams if we put our hearts and minds to it,” said Teo.

Laurentia will also receive $25,000 from the Singapore National Paralympic Council through its Athletes Achievement Awards scheme.  You can read about her achievement here.

My thoughts:

Even if you are against the Foreign Sports Talent scheme, surely you cannot deny that at least one good thing has come out of Singapore winning the women’s table tennis team silver at the Beijing Olympics last month.

And that is that the publicity generated by that achievement has created a nice momentum and platform for our Paralympians (all locals, mind you) and the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SSDC) to gain the public recognition and awareness of their sporting efforts that they have long deserved.

The Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games

The Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games

Personally, I am pleasantly surprised and heartened by the level of media coverage that has been given to the Paralympics and to our Paralympians this week.

There have been a couple of brickbats in the papers asking why there is so little coverage of the Paralympics and why there aren’t any live telecasts of the Games.

To those who have written in to complain, I only want to say this: relax. Let’s take it one step at a time.

True, our Paralympians are also deserving of recognition and praise for the amount of time and effort they put into achieving excellence in their respective sports. Hey, just because they are physically disabled in one way or another does not mean that they train less hard in their respective sports. Nor does it mean that their achievements are less noteworthy.

But hey, let’s face it too: the amount of column inches and air-time devoted to their exploits in Bejing is definitely more than the coverage that has been given to them in the past three to five years.

When Theresa Goh won the 200m Individual Medley (SM5) event at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Swimming Championships in 2006, her feat merited just a few paragraphs in most of the English daillies. Only The New Paper on Sunday wrote a two-page feature on her. 

Laurentia's bronze medal win was splashed all over the national daillies today (Picture from The Straits Times)

Laurentia's bronze medal win was splashed in the English daillies today (Picture from The Straits Times)

Today, Laurentia’s bronze medal win was not only featured on the front pages of The Straits Times and Today, it dominated the first page of the sports sections in both papers.

I am hazarding a guess that previously, sports editors did not know what to make of disabled athletes or of the Paralympics.

They had no idea of the sort of level and standards of competition that exists at the Paralympic level and as a result, found themselves grasping at straws on what sort of coverage they should give to the achievements of our disabled athletes.

I won’t be surprised if some of them found themselves unintentionally and unwittingly comparing the achievements of disabled athletes to the able-bodied ones, even though they probably knew too, at the back of their minds, that such comparisons were unfair.

But all these mental barriers started to fall one by one when the likes of Oscar Pistorius (athletics), Natalie du Toit (swimmer) and Natalia Partyka (table tennis player) came along and showed that they were capable of more than just holding their own against their able-bodied peers in their respective sports.

Oscar Pistorius clocked 11.17sec to win the Paralympics 100m gold (Picture taken from The Daily Mail)

Oscar Pistorius clocked 11.17sec to win the Paralympics 100m gold (Picture taken from The Daily Mail)

South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius – nicknamed the Blade Runner for his carbon-fibre prosthetic legs – may have lost his fight to compete at the Olympics but the 11.17sec he clocked yesterday en route to winning the men’s 100m is an awesome time.

To put things in perspective, it is even faster than some of our top junior sprinters and is just 0.37sec slower than the 10.73sec that Calvin Kang clocked at the Olympics.

Likewise, despite missing a leg, South African swimmer Natalie du Toit was still able to finish 16th out of 25 competitors in the women’s 10km open water swim at the Beijing OLYMPICS

And what about this? Polish teenager Natalia Partyka not only represented Poland in the women’s table tennis team event at the Beijing Olympics, she even defeated our own Li Jiawei at this year’s World Championships and took Hong Kong’s world No 10 Tie Yana to five sets before losing.

To me, the current level of media coverage for the Paralympics is a very healthy sign for the future of Paralympic sports in Singapore. 

I would also like to think that the increased media coverage, and the increased public interest, are indications that we are gradually evolving into a more inclusive, kinder and gentler society.

Here’s something for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports to seriously consider: if you really want to signal to the public that the Olympics and Paralympics are of equal importance to Singapore, that our Paralympians deserved to be seen as top-level athletes in their own right, then why not make next year’s Singapore Sports Awards a truly inclusive one by honouring both our able-bodied and disabled athletes?

After all, everyone’s a part of Team Singapore, right?

Even better still, break down the barriers by allowing our disabled athletes to vie for the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards.

Theresa Goh - a contender for the Sportswoman of the Year Award?

Theresa Goh - a contender for the Sportswoman of the Year Award?

Can you imagine what a massive public boost it will be for the status of disabled sports in Singapore to see either Laurentia or Theresa (or even both) competing with Tao Li and Feng Tianwei for the Sportswoman of the Year Award? Can you imagine the sort of powerful impact it will have on public mindsets?

Man, I would really love to see that happening.

In the meantime, my heartiest congratulations to Laurentia for her bronze medal win. Here’s wishing her all the best in tomorrow’s Individual Freestyle Test Grade IA.

I’m also keeping my fingers tightly crossed that Theresa will finish among the medals in her pet event, the women’s 100m breaststroke S4.

She’s already have a great Games, with two new national records to her name and a narrow podium miss in the 200m freestyle S5 final.

And finally, I am hoping that we can get some great news too from the likes of sailors Jovin Tan and Desiree Lim, swimmer Yip Pin Xiu and wheelchair race Eric Ting.

Go for it, guys! Go for it, Team Singapore!

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Newsflash: Feng beats Wang to take bronze at World Cup

Singapore paddler Feng Tianwei gave her new-found popularity among Singapore sports fans a huge boost tonight when she defeated national teammate Wang Yuegu to finish third in the 2008 Volkswagen Women’s World Cup.

The 21-year-old world No 9 – who became an overnight darling last month after her tenancious performances and two crucial victories in Singapore’s 3-2 team semi-final win over South Korea at the Beijing Olympics – triumphed 4-0 over Wang, who is two rungs above her in the world rankings.

Both women ended up playing for the bronze medal after they were dumped out of the semi-finals earlier in the evening. Feng lost 0-4 to Hong Kong’s Tie Yana while Wang went down by the same score to Chinese world no 3 Li Xiaoxia.

Although Feng’s 4-0 win over Wang suggests a drubbing, a closer look at the set scores – Feng won 11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 – indicate a close battle at the Kuala umpur Badminton Hall.

Feng’s win means that she has equalled Singapore’s best result in the World Cup to date – a bronze medal finish by Li Jiawei in 2006.

It could also mean that she is now a possible contender for the Singapore National Olympic Council’s Sportswoman of the Year Award.The other likely candidate is Tao Li who set an sian record and two national records en route to becoming the first Singaporean swimmer to qualify for an Olympic final.

Meanwhile, Li Xiaoxia became the new World Cup champion after she cruised to an easy 4-0 win over Tie Yana. Li took the first three sets easily, winning 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 before Tie started putting up a semblane of a fight in the fourth set.

But it was too little too late as Li squeezedpast her opponent 14-12 to clinch the crown.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

Related links:

8 Sept: Newsflash – It’s double jeopardy for Singapore as Feng and Wang crash out of World Cup semis

7 Sep – Newsflash – Wang Yuegu and Feng Tianwei through to World Cup semis; Singapore assured of at least a bronze

6 Sept: Newsflash -World Cup shocker as Li Jiawei crashes out in group stage

4 Sept: Newsflash – Singapore’s hopes at Volkwagen Women’s World Cup brighten 

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Newsflash: It’s double jeopardy for Singapore as Feng and Wang crash out of World Cup semis

Singapore’s hopes of winning a gold or silver medal at the 2008 Volkswagen Women’s World Cup came to an end this evening after national paddlers Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu were bundled out of the semi-finals of the competition.

World No 9 Feng, who created a sensational upset yesterday when she defeated world No 2 and hot favourite Guo Yue 4-1 in the quarter-finals, was a pale shadow of herself at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Hall as she crumbled 0-4 to Hong Kong’s Tie Yana.

The 21-year-old went down 6-11 in the first set but seemed to bounce back in the second as she took Tie to the wire before succumbing 11-13.

That second-set loss must have taken the wind out of her sails as she then lost 8-11 and 7-11 to make a meek exit out of the competition.

Feng was not the only one to crash out in four straight sets yesterday.

World No 7 Wang was also on the receiving end of a 0-4 thumping as she went down to China’s Li Xiaoxia in the other semi-final.

After a closely-fought 11-13 first set loss, Wang was subsequently outclassed 2-11 in the next set. It was all Li after that as the world No 3 raised her game by a notch and took the next two sets 11-7 and 11-9.

The result means that Singapore has equalled Li JIawei’s bronze-medal finish at the 2006 World Cup as Feng and Wang will now face each other in the third-and-fourth-place play-offs. The match is scheduled to start at 9pm.

Li Jiawei was not in action tonight after failing to advance from the group stage. She had lost two of her three matches to finish third in her group.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

Related links:

7 Sep – Newsflash – Wang Yuegu and Feng Tianwei through to World Cup semis; Singapore assured of at least a bronze

6 Sept: Newsflash -World Cup shocker as Li Jiawei crashes out in group stage

4 Sept: Newsflash – Singapore’s hopes at Volkwagen Women’s World Cup brighten 

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