Singapore Sports Awards



The Singapore Sports Awards are a series of annual awards to honour the achievements of Singapore’s sportsmen and sportswomen. Organised by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), the awards were first given out in 1968 for sporting achievements attained in 1967.1 The awards in 2017 cover 10 categories, including Sportsman of the Year, Sportswoman of the Year, Coach of the Year and Team of the Year (Event).2

Origins
The Singapore Sports Awards were launched in 1968 by the Singapore Olympic and Sports Council (which became the SNOC in 1970). The idea was first mooted by Soh Ghee Soon, the Singapore Amateur Weightlifting Federation’s representative on the council.3 At the time, the council’s president was then Minister for Social Affairs Othman Wok who sought to reward Singaporean athletes and encourage higher standards of sporting achievement through the awards. As a newly independent nation, much of Singapore’s attention was on academics, business and industry. However, Othman perceived that through sports, the nation could promote physical health and strength, which would in turn aid nation-building.4


As there was much discussion about the award and the scheme for awarding it, the awards were approved only in July 1968.5 In November 1968, the Singapore Olympic and Sports Council invited its 25 affiliated national sports associations to submit nominations for the awards.6 By December that year, a total of 16 male and seven female athletes had been nominated by 16 associations.7

A panel of eight judges was formed. Chaired by Othman, the panel comprised representatives from different sectors, including business, government, media and sports. Among them were Wee Kim Wee, deputy editor of The Straits Times; Chan Chee Seng, parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Social Affairs; A. W. Kirby, general manager of Rothmans of Pall Mall, Singapore; and Francis Thomas, principal of St Andrew’s School.8

The inaugural Singapore Sports Awards
The first Singapore Sports Awards were presented at The Istana on 27 December 1968. Patricia Chan, a 14-year-old swimmer, was named Sportswoman of the Year, while 20-year-old Tan Thuan Heng, also a swimmer, was Sportsman of the Year. Chan had won 10 gold medals, all in record times, at the 1967 Southeast Asian Peninsular Games held in Bangkok (later renamed Southeast Asian Games) as well as medals in other tournaments. Tan had clinched four gold medals, two in record times, at the same Southeast Asian Peninsular Games.9


Chan and Tan received pewter trophies donated by Rothmans, while their sports association, the Singapore Amateur Swimming Association, received a cash award of S$10,000. Certificates of merit were also presented to six other athletes: Cheong Wai Hing (athletics), Peck Noi Huay (table tennis), Chua Phung Kim (weightlifting), Canagasabai Kunalan (athletics), Ariff Hussain (cycling) and K. S. Moorthy (judo).10

Key developments
Over the years, the judging panel continued to comprise representatives from the business, government, media and sporting sectors, chaired by the president of SNOC. By 1970, SNOC’s president was then Minister for Home Affairs Edmund William Barker.11 Subsequent presidents included Yeo Ning Hong (1990–1998)12 and Teo Chee Hean (1998–2014).13

 
Chan was Sportswoman of the Year for five consecutive years, from 1968 to 1972. After her fifth consecutive win in 1972, the SNOC introduced a new ruling that  capped the number of times each athlete could receive  the award at three.14 The Coach of the Year award introduced in 1970 was also capped at one per individual. Chan’s father, Chan Ah Kow, was one of three joint recipients of the inaugural Coach of the Year award in 1970, and he continued to receive the prize for the next two years. The new ruling therefore prevented both father and daughter from adding to their haul.15

In 1973, a new Team of the Year award was introduced and first given to the Schools Under-18 Football Team.16

To recognise youths with outstanding performance in sports, the Sportsboy and Sportsgirl of the Year awards were first given out in 1978 to Singapore citizens below 18 years of age. The first Sportsboy and Sportsgirl of the Year were swimmers Marc Tay and Junie Sng respectively.17

In 1990, five disabled athletes were nominated for the Singapore Sports Awards for the first time. They were Raja Singh, Tang See Chong and Derek Yzelman for Sportsman of the Year, and Ong Bah Lee and Lim Poh Eng for Sportswoman of the Year.18 The following year, the cash awards were increased to S$10,000 for Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year, S$6,000 for Coach of the Year and S$4,000 for Meritorious Awards.19

The SNOC reviewed and revamped the awards’ structure in 2004 after seeking feedback from officials, coaches and athletes. One of the key changes was removal of the restriction placed on the maximum number of sports awards each athlete could receive.20 The lifting of the cap enabled table tennis player Li Jiawei, who had won the Sportswoman of the Year award for three consecutive years from 2002 to 2004, to continue her streak for another two years in 2005 and 2006.21 Another change was to allow foreigners to be eligible for the Coach of the Year award. The first foreign coach to win the award was badminton trainer Zheng Qingjin in 2005.22



Author
Alvin Chua



References
1. Boey, F. (1968, December 22). Singapore sports awards go to Thuan Heng, Pat. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore National Olympic Council. (2017).  Singapore Sports Awards. Retrieved 2017, December 26 from Singapore National Olympic Council website: http://www.singaporeolympics.com/Singapore-sports-awards/
2. Singapore National Olympic Council. (2017, July 13). Finalists for 2017 Singapore Sports Awards shortlisted. Retrieved 2017, August 10 from Singapore National Olympic Council website: http://www.singaporeolympics.com/finalists-2017-singapore-sports-awards-shortlisted/
3. Yeo, W. (1991, April 1). Novelty of top award long worn off. The Straits Times, p. 31; Wok new SOSC chief. (1966, April 27). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Singapore National Olympic Council. (2017). The ideals, the scope & the history of the Singapore National Olympic Council. Retrieved 2016, May 30 from Singapore National Olympic Council website: http://www.singaporeolympics.com/history/
5. Frida, E. (1968, December 28). Earlier awards in 1969. The Straits Times, p. 22; Yeo, W. (1991, April 1). Novelty of top award long worn off. The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Dorai, J. (1968, August 24). SOSC ‘No’ to Pat and Azhar. The Straits Times, p. 23; S’pore’s top sports awards on Dec 27. (1968, November 21). The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Boey, F. (1968, December 20). 8 to make awards. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Boey, F. (1968, December 20). 8 to make awards. The Straits Times, p. 23; Yeo, W. (1991, April 1). Novelty of top award long worn off. The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Boey, F. (1968, December 22). Singapore sports awards go to Thuan Heng, Pat. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Boey, F. (1968, December 22). Singapore sports awards go to Thuan Heng, Pat. The Straits Times, p. 22; Frida, E. (1968, December 28). Earlier awards in 1969. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. His life. (2001, April 13). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. National Library Board Singapore. (2017). Portrait of Dr. Yeo Ning Hong, Minister of State for Defence. Retrieved 2017, November 25 from BookSG.
13. Chua, S. Y. (2014, June 30). DPM Teo Chee Hean steps down as SNOC president, succeeded by Tan Chuan-Jin. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
14. Frida, E. (1972, December 30). Teams get chance for ‘Best of Year’ award. The Straits Times, p. 28; Five have strong claims as 1971 Sportsman. (1972, February 26), The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Last time for Pat and her dad. (1972, May 5). The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Singapore National Olympic Council. (2016). Singapore Sports Awards. Retrieved 2016, May 30 from Singapore National Olympic Council website: http://www.singaporeolympics.com/singapore-sports-awards/
17. Pereira, B. (1978, May 20). Swimmers Marc and Junie sweep awards. The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Dorai, J. (1990, March 23). 5 disabled athletes vie for nation’s top awards. The Straits Times, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Yeo, W., & Rajendran, J. (1991, March 22). Double joy for Chng, Li Lian. The Straits Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Chia, H. K. (2004, November 2). Let them win more than 3 sports awards. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Foo, A. (2005, March 31). Susilo and Li set to clinch top accolades? The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Chen, Y. S. (2005, April 22). Winner Zheng did not even know he was nominated. The Straits Times, p. 21. 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
Recreation>>Sports
Sports--Awards--Singapore
Sports and games
Sports, recreation and travel>>Sports