By Tan Bah Bah
I am moved by Suresh Nair’s piece on our forgotten or neglected sports heroes. These people were icons and part of our collective heritage of memories and achievements.
It is from these genuine giants of their times that we build up our sporting prowess and shoot for future glory.
How can our own sportsmen and women be inspired? Not just by reading about Usain Bolt, Yelena Isinbayeva or Lin Dan alone. They must be made to free proud that they come from a country which had produced – and not imported – Olympians and Asian or regional multiple-medal winning champions whose names resonate with the sports crowd.
The roll call of honour is fairly impressive – Tan Howe Liang, Wong Peng Soon, Ong Poh Lim, Chee Swee Lee, Junie Sng, C. Kunalan, Choo Seng Quee, Ang Peng Siong, Neo Chwee Kok and our water polo boys.
Follow the Australian example.
When Sydney had to hold the 2000 Olympics, a decision was made to honour Australia’s sports heroes and heroines, to let the world be reminded of the sports-mad country’s champions.
The lanes at the Olympic Park – the stadiums and swimming complex – were named after these icons.
You will find Dawn Fraser Avenue, Herb Elliot Avenue, Rod Laver Drive, Murray Rose Avenue, Shane Gould Avenue and Kevin Coombs Avenue there. Some may wonder who Kevin Coombs was. He was the first Australian Aboriginal Paralympic competitor for Australia. Coombs, who was also a wheelchair basketballer, competed in five Paalympics, including the first Paralympic Games in 1960.
Singapore’s Sports Hub – and the whole neighbourhood covering the Indoor Stadium – will be the perfect place to honour our true-blue sports heroes and heroines.
The roads and lanes around the hub should be named after Howe Liang, Peng Soon, Swee Lee, C. Kunalan and company. If need be, existing roads at the whole area should be also named after people who have made a big difference in our sports life. How about an Edward Barker Avenue, an Eng Liang Crescent, a Rahim Omar Road or a Lau Teng Chuan Lane?