Published on 26 Feb 2023

Athletes aim high for 2023 Asian Games, chef de mission team unveiled

SINGAPORE – Following commendable campaigns at the Hanoi SEA Games in 2022, archer Contessa Loh and footballer Nur Umairah Hamdan are aiming to carry their momentum to a bigger stage at the Sept 23-Oct 8 Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Umairah, 20, was part of the team that clinched the Lionesses’ first SEA Games win since 1985 and will be among Singapore’s first representatives in women’s football at the Asiad.

Loh, 28, ended Singapore’s nine-year gold drought in SEA Games archery when she beat home favourite Le Phuong Thao in the women’s individual compound final.

At the last Asian Games in Indonesia in 2018, Loh partnered Alan Lee in the compound mixed team and finished fourth, which still rankles.

She said: “Finishing fourth was very painful. But it was a good result because it was (Singapore) archery’s debut at the Asian Games and no one expected that.

“It was a good boost of confidence because it showed people that Singapore archery has a chance on this stage. More people started paying attention to the sport and it motivated us to be better.”

Loh is now aiming to improve on that result in Hangzhou, where she has been pencilled in for the individual and mixed team events.


After an Asia Cup tournament in Taipei in March, she will compete in a few more Asia Cup and World Cup legs as well as the World Archery Championships in July.

The packed schedule, she said, will help her get into competition mindset and provide more data points on what is working and what changes need to be made.

Her long-term target is gold at the 2028 Olympics, as her event is not contested at Paris 2024.

Loh was speaking at the Singapore edition of the Hangzhou Fun Run organised by the Olympic Council of Asia and the Singapore National Olympic Council on Saturday. Over 150 Hangzhou-bound athletes joined the public in the 3km run around the Singapore Sports Hub.

The chef de mission team, led by Basketball Association of Singapore president Koh Koon Teck, for the 2023 Asian Games were also unveiled. Koh will be assisted by former swimmer Tao Li and former sailor Koh Seng Leong.

Koh Koon Teck is confident that the representatives will have a fruitful outing in Hangzhou. Singapore will send its largest contingent of 382 athletes to the Asiad, which was postponed by a year because of the pandemic.

Commending the athletes for taking such challenges in their stride, he said: “I am heartened to see such resolve and enthusiasm by our athletes as they put their best foot forward to represent Singapore at the Asian Games.”

Umairah, who was also among the athletes at the fun run, has a busy few months before the Asiad as well.

The football team are preparing for the 2024 AFC Women’s Olympic qualifying tournament in April and the May 5-17 SEA Games in Cambodia.

In the qualifiers, the Lionesses, who are ranked 134th in the world, will take on 41st-ranked Thailand and world No. 129 Mongolia on April 3 and 6 respectively at a centralised location to be announced.

The competitions will help the team gel and get used to one another’s playing style, said Umairah, who added that they will be aiming to win a match or score a goal.

She also noted that competing at that level will help the development of the team through increased exposure to different playing styles.

She said: “We didn’t expect to be selected, so I’m very excited to be there, it’s like a dream come true.

“With an opportunity like this, more of us will be more eager to train. When we play overseas, we will know what the standard is, how fast or organised (the opponents) are.

“Even though we might not get the results we want, we can learn from those games and improve ourselves.”

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Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.