Benedict Tan



Benedict Tan Chi’ Loong (Dr) (b. 21 November 1967, Singapore–) is a former national sailor who has won gold medals at the Asian Games and Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. He is also a medical doctor specialising in sports medicine and president of the Singapore Sailing Federation. Tan is a three-time Sportsman of the Year (1991, 1994 and 1995), and recipient of the Public Service Star and Public Service Medal.1

Early life and education
Tan is the elder of two children born to a Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese) family.2 He attended Eunos Primary School, Ghim Moh Secondary School, and later Hwa Chong Junior College. At Ghim Moh Secondary, Tan was a school prefect, class monitor, captain of the badminton team and a member of the National Cadet Corps.3 Tan initially wanted to study ophthalmology but his abiding interest lay in sports medicine. He pursued medicine at the National University of Singapore before obtaining a master’s degree in sports medicine from the Australian Institute of Sport.4


As a boy, Tan was not outstanding academically and did not seem to have many interests outside of school. His father, a keen sailor, began taking him to the Changi Sailing Club on weekends. Sailing soon sparked Tan’s enthusiasm and competitive spirit, and the two-hour bus journey from his home in Holland Road to the club became a routine. He began practising alone for hours, learning from instructors and diligently reading up on sailing theory. His grades began to improve as well.5 Tan completed the sailing course for the Optimist dinghy for youths before progressing to two-man boats such as the Lark and Fireball. In 1984, he won the Asian Fireball Championships in Thailand. At age 19, Tan moved to the Laser class of boats, sailing off Changi and Pulau Ubin.6 The first boat Tan owned was named Bucephalus, after Alexander the Great’s horse.7

Competitive sailing career
With funding from private sponsors and the Singapore Sports Council, Tan embarked on training stints in Europe and the United States, improving his skills by exchanging knowledge with experienced sailors.8 His training partners included American champion Nick Adamson, three-time world champion Glenn Bourke of Australia, and British sailor Gareth Kelly.9


Tan won his first SEA Games gold medal in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur. In the same year, he finished 37th out of 104 at the World Laser Championships in Denmark, the second-best showing by an Asian. In 1991, he won his second gold medal at the SEA games held in Manila, and was named Singapore’s Sportsman of the Year.10 The following year, Tan was conferred the Public Service Medal for his sporting achievements.11

Juggling sailing with his medical studies, Tan’s dedication to the sport was apparent as he would attend university lectures in the morning, train at sea for five hours from the afternoon to evening, then work out at the gymnasium at night before hitting the books.12

The medals and accolades continued to arrive as Tan picked up his third SEA Games gold medal on home waters in 1993, and his fourth and last gold at the games held in Chiangmai, Thailand, in 1995.13 He was crowned Sportsman of the Year two more times, for 1994 and 1995.14 Tan also received the Singapore Youth Award and Public Service Star in 1995.15

The highlight of Tan’s sailing career was in 1994, when he bagged the Asian Games gold medal in the Laser class in Hiroshima. He was Singapore’s first gold medallist at the Asian Games since 1982, earning a cash award of S$250,000 from the Singapore National Olympic Council.16 

Later career
After the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta where he placed 36th of 56 boats,17 Tan retired from competitive sailing to study for his master’s degree in sports medicine at the Australian Institute of Sport, and to make way for younger sailors.18 However, he continued to be active in the sailing arena, serving as the national team’s doctor at the 1998 and 2002 Asian Games, and assisting the Singapore Sailing Federation in setting up a high-performance committee to train athletes.19 Tan also served on the Singapore National Olympic Council and was inducted into the Singapore Sports Council Hall of Fame.20


In 2003, Tan embarked on his medical career at the Changi Sports Medicine Centre (CSMC) of Changi General Hospital. He was the first doctor to practise sports medicine in a local restructured hospital, and became head and senior consultant of the CSMC as well as medical director of the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre. He continued to sail for pleasure, and took part in marathons.21 Tan also authored several books, including one titled The Complete Guide to Laser Sailing. Published in 2000, the book is widely acknowledged as a definitive guide to the sport internationally.22

In June 2010, Tan succeeded Low Teo Ping as president of the Singapore Sailing Federation. He was nominated for the post by five of the federation’s nine affiliate clubs, and was the sole nominee.23 Under Tan’s leadership, a meritocratic system of using open trials to select sailors for tournaments was introduced at the federation, replacing the previous process of having the athletes hand-picked by coaches.24 Tan also formed an Olympic Pathway Taskforce to groom sailors in more Olympic sailing classes and reduce the number of young sailors dropping out of the sport.25 In addition, he started a national keelboat racing league and rotated the racing circuit around various clubs to expose sailors to different conditions.26

Family27
Parents:
Tan Yew Kier and Nancy Wee.

Sister: Jessica Tan.
Wife: Alison Lim (married in 1995).



Author

Alvin Chua




References
1. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with National Heritage Board, p. 535. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
2. Ho-Pereira, S. (1994, October 28). 250 grand reasons to smileThe Straits Times, p. 40; Mardiana Ismail. (2005, March 21). Gold, sea, the doctorThe Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Chua, C. J. (1992, March 8). Modest sailor Tan a model sportsmanThe Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Singapore Sports Medicine Centre. (2011). Our doctors: Dr Ben Tan. Retrieved 2016, September 15 from Singapore Sports Medicine Centre website: http://www.ssmc.sg/our-doctors/dr-ben-tan.html
5. Chua, C. J. (1992, March 8). Modest sailor Tan a model sportsmanThe Straits Times, p. 27; Loh, S. (1994, November 13). Sailing helped him succeed in schoolThe Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Nanda, A. (2010, December 6). Sailing lessons. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Nanda, A. (2010, December 6). Sailing lessons. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Mardiana Ismail. (2005, March 21). Gold, sea, the doctorThe Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Ho-Pereira, S. (1994, October 11). Ben wins Laser class to bag a gold for SingaporeThe Straits Times, p. 30; Nanda, A. (2010, December 6). Sailing lessons. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Ho-Pereira, S. (1994, October 11). Ben wins Laser class to bag a gold for SingaporeThe Straits Times, p. 30; Chua, C. J. (1992, March 8). Modest sailor Tan a model sportsmanThe Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Chua, C. J. (1992, March 8). Modest sailor Tan a model sportsmanThe Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. ‘I feel very proud’. (1993, August 10). The New Paper, p. 41. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Nanda, A. (2010, December 6). Sailing lessons. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with National Heritage Board, p. 535. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
14. Dizon, A. (2006, November 19). The doctor is fitThe New Paper, p. 43. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with National Heritage Board, p. 535. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
16. Ho-Pereira, S. (1994, October 11). Ben wins Laser class to bag a gold for SingaporeThe Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Voon, T. (2010, September 12). Sailing towards Olympic successThe Straits Times, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Dizon, A. (2006, November 19). The doctor is fitThe New Paper, p. 43; Voon, T. (2010, September 12). Sailing towards Olympic successThe Straits Times, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Nanda, A. (2010, December 6). Sailing lessons. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopaedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with National Heritage Board, p. 535. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Sailor Tan to head panel. (2005, December 21). The Straits Times, p. 12; Ben Tan wins – yet again. (1995, July 10). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Dizon, A. (2006, November 19). The doctor is fitThe New Paper, p. 43. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Voon, T. (2010, September 12). Sailing towards Olympic successThe Straits Times, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Lim, L. (2010, June 12). Ben Tan to head S’pore’s bid for Olympic gloryThe Straits Times, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Lim, L. (2010, November 22). Medals and squabbles. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Voon, T. (2010, October 30). Wind of change. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Lim, L. (2010, November 22). Medals and squabbles. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Nanda, A. (2010, December 6). Sailing lessons. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to 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
Male athletes--Singapore--Biography
Tan, Benedict Chi’-Loong, 1967-
Personalities
Sailing--Singapore
Sports, recreation and travel>>Water sports>>Sailing
Personalities>>Biographies