SPORTS LIFE IN SINGAPORE
Sports make up a huge part of the Singaporean culture. Whether they are recreational or competitive sports, they are integral to the way of life and social culture in Singapore, even being implemented into academic curriculums. The Singaporeans have a complex sports history but are making their presence known in global competitions like the Olympics and World Games. Singapore is an island. Being surrounded by water on all sides, it is ideal for recreational water activities like waterskiing, kayaking, sailing, and swimming. Scuba diving is also a local favorite due to the prestigious island of Pulau Hantu and its beautiful coral reefs.
As far as competitive spectator sports go, association football (American soccer) is the most popular among the citizens of Singapore. They even have their own professional league called the 'S.League'. Originated in 1996, it the league currently has ten teams traveling and competing in stadiums across the country. Moreover, the Singapore national football team is three time Tiger Cup champions, the most prestigious football competition in South-East Asia. For more information on the Football Association of Singapore, visit http://www.fas.org.sg/default.asp?V_DOC_ID=853.
Singapore is by no means a major sporting power but their athletes have held their own in regional and international competitions in sports like: table tennis, bowling, sailing, swimming, badminton, and water polo. In the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics, Tan Howe Liang brought a silver medal home in the weightlifting category. Likewise, in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, team members Li Jiawei, Wang Yuegu, and Feng Tianwei won a silver medal in the women's double take tennis category for Singapore. Singaporean teams were also proved to be a powerful presence in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan. Teams representing the country won five gold, two silver, and ten bronze medals.
National athletes are celebrities in Singapore. Wong Peng Soon is a four time All-England Cup champion in badminton and Joan Liew Lee Ting is perhaps the most famous female bodybuilder in Singapore, with over seven medals from championships all over the world. Adelene Wee Chin Suan, Jesmine Ho, and Jennifer Tan are all Singaporean bowling royalty each with their own World Bowling Masters titles. Fandi Ahmad is the David Beckham of Singapore, playing for the FC Groningen and even earned a place in the club's hall of fame.
The next generation of Singaporean athletes will have a chance to hone their skills beginning at an elementary age. Singapore's government sanctions sports-based programs for Singapore's educational system on top of preexistent physical education programs. The National Physical Fitness Award mandates participation of all students in primary and secondary grades and gives awards for exemplary performance in endurance tests, cardiovascular fitness, and distance running. Furthermore, the Singapore Sports School
(http://www.sportsschool.edu.sg/) was opened in 2004 and offers a combined secondary school curriculum with individualized professional training in a student's preferred sport. It is Singapore's attempt to nurture future potentially world class athletes without sacrificing standardized education.