This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

SEA Games 2023: Singapore ‘champs’ return home after reclaiming water polo gold

SINGAPORE – Loud applause and cheers erupted as the Singapore men’s water polo team walked into Changi Airport’s arrival hall at Terminal 2 on Wednesday, dressed in their red blazers with luggage in tow and glistening gold medals around their necks.

Among the 60-strong crowd of supporters stood a young boy holding a homemade sign that said “champs” – one word to describe their triumphant return from the Cambodia SEA Games.

It was an evening to celebrate for Singapore’s water polo fraternity, as family, friends, officials and teammates turned out in force to welcome the men’s and women’s teams home.

After losing their crown at the 2019 SEA Games, the Singapore men reclaimed gold with a dominant performance in Phnom Penh. The women’s team won a silver.

Captain Lee Kai Yang was greeted at the gate by his sister and her children, his joy evident as he lifted his nephew into his arms immediately.

Lee, 28, said: “There are a lot of family members we missed, and we’re very happy to see them. It’s great to be back among the community and see the people that have been supporting and cheering for us every step of the way.”

Aside from the support from the fraternity, the team were also grateful to the 150 volunteers from Team Nila who travelled to Phnom Penh to cheer them on at every game.

“The supporters took us by surprise in a good way. You hear chants of ‘Let’s go Singapore’ and the roar of the crowd in sync with good plays, good defenses,” said Lee.

Yip Yang added: “It made every game feel like a home game.”

Veterans Yip, Paul Tan, Eugene Teo and Loh Zhi Zhi, returned to the national foldafter the loss in 2019 and played a major role in the win.

While it is uncertain if the quartet will stay on for the Asian Games and future editions of the SEA Games, water polo officials are confident that they can go beyond gold No. 28.

“The burden to reclaim gold has been lifted and now we aim to maintain the performance for the future,” said Dominic Soh, Singapore Swimming Association’s vice-president for water polo. “We are confident now. Since we lost the gold medal in 2019, we have increased the pool of players and now we have a logical succession plan.

“We re-initiated the national youth development squad, we have about sixty youth players now. Over the years there will be more talented players coming in, so we can maintain the quality of the players and that is how we hope to sustain the standards for the water polo team.”

The future can wait for now for Yip, who said Wednesday’s reception was more emotional for him as he was one of the supporters who welcomed the team home in 2019.

He said: “We’re feeling much better this time because we made history in a way by reclaiming the gold medal for the first time.”