The Republic has come a long way in its Olympic journey since weightlifter Tan Howe Liang’s historic medal at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, with the table tennis women’s team winning a silver medal at Beijing 2008, before swimmer Joseph Schooling took home the nation’s first-ever gold with a record breaking performance in the 100m butterfly.
As the curtains come up on the Tokyo Olympics from July 23 to Aug 8, Team Singapore’s contingent of 23 athletes will compete in a record 12 sports, with diving, equestrian and fencing to see debutants in Japan’s capital.
Here are the Singapore athletes who are competing at the Tokyo Games.
Shanti Pereira, 24
Event: Women’s 200m
The national record holder in the women’s 100m and 200m, Pereira will be Singapore’s sole representative in track and field at the Olympics after she was handed a universality place, also known as a wildcard.
The 24-year-old had clocked her national 200m mark of 23.60sec at the 2015 SEA Games, where she won Singapore’s first sprint gold in the biennial event in 42 years.
Loh Kean Yew, 24
Event: Men’s singles
Singapore’s top-ranked badminton player, world No.42 Loh will be making his debut at the Olympic Games alongside teammate Yeo Jia Min.
Originally from Penang, Malaysia, Loh moved across the Causeway to join elder brother Kean Hean to pursue sports and studies. He enrolled at the Singapore Sports School and eventually became a Singapore citizen, winning honours at the SEA Games in 2015, 2017, and 2019.
But Loh is best remembered for his giant-slaying feat at the 2019 Thailand Masters, when he defeated China’s two-time Olympic champion and former world No.1 Lin Dan in the final.
Yeo Jia Min, 22
Event: Women’s singles
Ranked 30th in the world, Yeo is a former junior world No.1 who is aiming to make her mark at the sport’s biggest stage.
The 22-year-old, who won a bronze medal at the 2017 Asian Junior Championships, has claimed two titles on the tournament circuit – she won the 2018 Vietnam Open and Hyderabad Open a year later. She also won three team bronze medals at the SEA Games in 2015, 2017 and 2019.
Jonathan Chan, 24
Event: Men’s 10m platform
Chan notched a first for Singapore two years ago when he earned a spot in the Tokyo Games at the 2019 Asian Diving Cup in Kuala Lumpur, topping the field in the 10m platform with his score of 407.90.
The diver began his sporting career as a gymnast when he was five, but he and his elder sister Kimberly switched to diving in 2010.
At the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, he won his first medal – a bronze – at the biennial event in the 10m platform, before clinching two bronzes in the individual and synchronised events two years later in Malaysia.
Joan Poh, 30
Events: Women’s single sculls
Poh’s journey from national dragon boater to sailor and rower is one of resilience and perseverance, with her efforts finally bearing fruit when she received news of her Olympic qualification in May.
The 30-year-old had finished 12th at the Asia and Oceania qualification regatta in Tokyo on May 7 but only got confirmation of her berth close to three weeks later while she was serving a 21-day quarantine in a hotel.
A nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Poh has also had to overcome financial issues in order to realise her Olympic dream.
Amanda Ng, 27
Event: Women’s RS:X
Despite slipping and injuring her knee two days before the Mussanah Open Championship in Oman, a wheelchair-bound Ng surfed through the pain and mental anguish to earn a hard-won ticket to Tokyo by finishing first in the RS:X medal race.
This will be the windsurfer’s second outing at the Olympics, after her debut in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, when she competed in the women’s 470 with Jovina Choo, finishing 20th.
Kimberly Lim, 24 & Cecilia Low, 28
Event: Women’s 49erFX
This is the first Olympic Games for the duo, who had both achieved success with different sailing partners in the 420 dinghy before pairing up in 2015 in the 49erFX.
Three years later, they won gold at the 2018 Asian Games. A year later, the sailors earned Singapore a place at the Olympics after they came in 15th at the Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships.
Ryan Lo, 24
Event: Men’s Laser
In April, Lo finally achieved his Olympic goal when he finished first in the men’s laser at the Mussanah Open Championship, where he won five of the 10 races and placed seventh in the medal race for a nett score of 31 points.
The 24-year-old, who won a bronze at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and gold at the 2019 SEA Games, had put his university studies on hold for two years in order to compete in his first Olympic Games.
Adele Tan, 22
Event: Women’s 10m air rifle
After going through a selection process that took one-and-a-half years owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tan finally got her ticket to the Olympics when she was picked by the Singapore Shooting Association in May.
She emerged top among a group of shooters that included London 2012 and Rio 2016 representative Jasmine Ser, 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Martina Veloso and Tessa Neo, who secured the Olympic quota at the 2019 Asian Shooting Championship. The selection process took into account four meets, including the H&N Cup 2010 where she set a national record of 632.5 points en route to a gold medal.