Lloyd Valberg



Lloyd Oscar Valberg (b. 1922–d. 26 March 1997, Perth, Australia) was Singapore’s sole competitor at the 1948 London Olympics.1 An all-round sportsman, Valberg was also an accomplished hurdler and triple jumper.2 Outside of sports, he was a decorated firefighter with a career that spanned more than 30 years.3

Early life
Born into a Eurasian family, Valberg completed his education at St Anthony’s Boys School, Eton High School and the Mercantile Institute.4 During his studies, Valberg participated in sports but did not excel in any of them.5 After leaving school, Valberg took up an apprenticeship at United Engineers in 1936. Inspired by his elder brother, Cliffton Valberg, who was an accomplished high jumper, the younger Valberg became interested in sports again, especially the high jump. He trained briefly under Cliffton, and in 1938, Valberg equalled the 1.87-metre Singapore high-jump record at a Singapore Recreation Club (SRC) meet. However, this achievement was not recognised by the Singapore Amateur Athletics Association (SAAA).6

Valberg mastered his high-jump technique by following the style of American jumper Lester Steers, who used the “belly roll” rather than the standard “western roll”. As athletics facilities were limited at the time, Valberg’s family built their own equipment – their high-jump post was built by Valberg’s father. Besides high jump, Valberg also excelled in other sports event such as hurdles and triple jump. However, the outbreak of World War II halted Valberg’s progress.7

Athletics career
After the war ended, Valberg returned to sports while working as a firefighter for the Singapore Harbour Board. He broke the Singapore high-jump record at the 1947 SAAA meet.8 The following month, he broke his own record with a jump of 1.92 m at the Singapore Representative Team Championships.9

London Olympic Games
The highlight of Valberg’s sporting career took place in July 1948, when he was Singapore’s sole competitor at the London Olympic Games.10 Although there were Singapore footballers at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, Valberg is considered Singapore’s first-ever Olympic representative under the Singapore Olympic and Sports Council established in 1947.11 In addition, Valberg, unlike the aforementioned footballers, represented Singapore instead of China.12


Arriving in London before the Games’ opening, Valberg initially found it difficult to adapt to the unfamiliar environment and had trouble acclimatising to the weather.13 With his affable personality, however, Valberg soon became a popular figure in athletic circles.14 As he lacked a coach, the Ceylon athletics team manager Bryant Little invited him to train with the Ceylonese team.15

At the Games parade, Valberg and J. S. de Souza, the Singapore team manager, flag-bearer and the only other Singapore representative, made up the smallest contingent to march around the arena.16 Valberg participated in the high-jump event and finished 14th with a final jump of 1.87 m. De Souza later reported that Valberg’s performance was affected by a leg injury he had sustained prior to the event.17 Valberg also admitted to being nervous about performing before such a large crowd.18

Post-Olympics
After the Games, Valberg continued to be active in competitive athletics in Singapore. He established and captained the Achilles athletics club in 1951.19

At the 1949 SAAA meet, Valberg swept the high-jump and triple-jump events, and narrowly beat his rival Ng Liang Chiang at the hurdles race.20 At the Malayan Championship later that year, Valberg broke the Malayan hurdles record with a time of 15.5 s.21

In 1950, Valberg represented Singapore at the Empire Games in New Zealand but failed to qualify for the final in high jump.22 In that same year, he broke the Malayan triple-jump record with a jump of 13.35 m, then rewrote it the following year with a new record of 13.79 m.23 Following these successes, Valberg decided to focus on the hurdles and triple-jump events after feeling that his career in high jump had peaked.24

In 1951, Valberg captained the Singapore athletics team at the inaugural Asian Games in India, where he clinched a bronze medal with a time of 15.7 s in the hurdles event.25 At the 1954 Asian Games in the Philippines, he was ranked sixth in the high jump event and finished fifth in the hurdles race.26

After a break from competitive athletics, Valberg attempted a comeback at the 1956 SAAA meet, where he defied expectations to win the high-jump event.27 A subsequent attempt in 1957 was less successful due to injury.28

Valberg retired from competitive athletics in the late 1950s and became involved in other sports. A member of the SRC, he coached young athletes and was part of the club’s softball team. Valberg was also vice-president of the Singapore Amateur Boxing Association from 1966 to 1968. He later became the coach of the Singapore softball team for the First Asian Softball Championships, and served as president of the Singapore Softball Association from 1968 to 1969.29

Firefighting career
Alongside his athletics career, Valberg was also a decorated firefighter.30 He joined the Singapore Fire Brigade in 1937. After World War II, Valberg left the Fire Brigade to join the Singapore Harbour Board’s Fire Service.31 In 1955, he became chief fire officer of the Port Fire Service, a position he held for 18 years.32

While in London for the 1948 Olympic Games, Valberg visited the Surrey County Fire Brigade and attended a four-week training course with the London Fire Brigade.33 Valberg earned the King’s Police & Fire Service Medal for his “conspicuous gallantry” when the oil tanker Lingula caught fire at Pulau Samboe (Sambu) in April 1950.34 In 1965, he was awarded the Public Administration (Silver) Medal.35

Retirement
Valberg retired from the fire service in 1972 to migrate to Perth, Australia.36 On the day of his departure from Singapore, the Port Fire Service turned up in full force to send him off.37

Death
Valberg passed away on 26 March 1997 at the age of 75.38

Family
Wife: Florence Nancy Valberg
Daughters: Victoria, Verdayne, Veronica, Jacquline, Venetia
Son: Floyd39

Valberg was a member of the Eurasian Valberg family, who are known for their sporting abilities. His elder brother, Cliffton, was a well-known high jumper in the 1930s, while his son, Floyd, became a popular Singapore softball player in the 1970s and ’80s.40 His cousin, Maurice Valberg, was noted for his all-round sporting ability – in cricket, hockey, soccer and billiards – and his uncle, E. H. D. Valberg, was a keen billiards player and active SRC member.41 Valberg is also the granduncle of Joseph Schooling, who won Singapore's first-ever Olympic gold medal in the 100-metre butterfly swimming event at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.42



Author

Joanna HS Tan



References
1. Tan, A. (1971, December 4). Scrap paper started jump to fame. New Nation, p. 14; 850 deaths – Lloyd Oscar Valberg. (1997, March 28). The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Tan, A. (1971, December 4). Scrap paper started jump to fame. New Nation, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. ‘Full dress’ send off for the Valbergs. (1972, May 16). New Nation, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Aplin, N., Waters, D., & Leong, M. L. (2005). Singapore Olympians: The complete who’s who 1936–2004. Singapore: SNP International, p. 57. (Call no.: RSING 796.09225957 APL); Eton High School hold annual sports meeting. (1935, November 23). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 15; Mercantile Institute sports. (1930, August 16). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Tan, C. L. (1972, June 9). Fireman extraordinary. New Nation, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Tan, A. (1971, December 4). Scrap paper started jump to fame. New Nation, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Tan, A. (1971, December 4). Scrap paper started jump to fame. New Nation, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Tan, A. (1971, December 4). Scrap paper started jump to fame. New Nation, p. 14; Champion jumper. (1947, July 22). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Valberg beats his own record. (1947, August 10). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Nelson, S. E. (1948, January 31). Singapore's Olympic hope. The Straits Times, p. 11; Lone marcher circles arena. (1948, August 3). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Aplin, N., Waters, D., & Leong, M. L. (2005). Singapore Olympians: The complete who’s who 1936-2004. Singapore: SNP International, pp. 50–53. (Call no.: RSING 796.09225957 APL)
12. Aplin, N., Waters, D., & Leong, M. L. (2005). Singapore Olympians: The complete who's who 1936-2004. Singapore: SNP International, pp. 50-53. (Call no.: RSING 796.09225957 APL)
13. Macklin, B. (1948, July 7). Valberg finds a benefactor. The Singapore Free Press, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Taylor, M. (1948, July 16). Valberg popular at Olympic campThe Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Macklin, B. (1948, July 7). Valberg finds a benefactor. The Singapore Free Press, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. S’pore sportsman gets his reward. (1948, July 24). The Singapore Free Press, p. 6; Lone marcher circles arena. (1948, August 3). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Aplin, N., Waters, D., & Leong, M. L. (2005). Singapore Olympians: The complete who’s who 1936–2004. Singapore: SNP International, pp. 58–59. (Call no.: RSING 796.09225957 APL)
18. ‘I was dead scared’: Valberg. (1948, August 2). The Singapore Free Press, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. New athletic club formed. (1951, July 14). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Valberg wins three AAA titles. (1949, July 31). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. One record broken in AAA meet. (1949, September 3). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Valberg, Liang Chiang are hopeful. (1950, January 18). The Singapore Free Press, p. 11; Valberg fails to qualify again. (1950, February 10). The Singapore Free Press, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Valberg held the stage for 2 hours. (1950, July 30). The Straits Times, p. 19; Valberg’s great bid succeeds. (1951, August 18). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Koh, B. L. (1950, November 11). Lloyd Valberg through with high jumping. The Singapore Free Press, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Tan, A. (1971, December 4). Scrap paper started jump to fame. New Nation, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Mary gets a ‘silver’ – in record time, too. (1954, May 5). The Straits Times, p. 1; Valberg and Mary Klass in finals. (1954, May 3). The Singapore Free Press, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Joshua, S. (1956, July 13). After a rest, Valberg is ready for a comeback. The Straits Times, p. 15; Sprint double for Kesavan. (1956, July 22). The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Lim, K. C. (1957, July 25). Valberg dogged by bad luck. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Braga-Blake, M. (Ed.). (1992). Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Times Editions, pp. 140–141. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
30. ‘Full dress’ send off for the Valbergs. (1972, May 16). New Nation, p. 2; Tan, C. L. (1972, June 9). Fireman extraordinary. New Nation, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. ‘Full dress’ send off for the Valbergs. (1972, May 16). New Nation, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. ‘Full dress’ send off for the Valbergs. (1972, May 16). New Nation, p. 2; Tan, C. L. (1972, June 9). Fireman extraordinary. New Nation, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Untitled. (1948, July 28). The Straits Times, p. 12; Valberg to undergo course. (1948, August 17). The Singapore Free Press, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Medal for oil fire heroes. (1950, November 29). The Straits Times, p. 1; King rewards ‘courage in danger, devotion to duty’. (1951, June 8). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. List of main Singapore awards. (1965, May 1). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. King, L. (1983, May 15). Goodness gracious, great Lloyd of fire. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. ‘Full dress’ send off for the Valbergs. (1972, May 16). New Nation, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Robert, G. (1997, March 29). Farewell Valberg, a man of many talentsThe Straits Times, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. 850 deaths – Lloyd Oscar Valberg. (1997, March 28). The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved on from NewspaperSG.
40. Tan, A. (1971, December 4). Scrap paper started jump to fame. New Nation, p. 14; King, L. (1983, February 4). New pitch for an old song. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
41. Ferroa, R. (1948, November 20). M. Valberg – ‘Dhyan Chand’ of S’poreThe Straits Times, p. 11; Mainly about Malayans by the onlooker. (1938, December 23). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
42. 8 things to know about Joseph Schooling. (2016, August 12). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/


Further resources
Singapore Press Holdings. (1950, January 17). Lloyd Valberg at Raffles Institution [Photograph no. PCD0074-001]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/


Singapore Press Holdings. (1950, February 2). Members of Malayan Empire Games team returning from New Zealand [Photograph no. PCD00074-097]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Sports, recreation and travel>>Olympic games
Athletes--Singapore--Biography
Sports, recreation and travel>>Sports
Valberg, Lloyd Oscar, 1922–1997
Personalities
Personalities>>Biographies
Fire fighters--Singapore--Biography