Sunday, August 31

Tan Howe Liang - Our 1st Olympic Medalist

He has finally been recognized... I wonder if our Table Tennis Team had not won an Olympic Medal, would he still get this small reward?

Olympic medallist Tan Howe Liang receives S$10,000 cash award
31 August 2008 2030 hrs (SST)

SINGAPORE: Singapore's silver medal win at the Beijing Olympics prompted celebrations across the island. At the same time, the nation's first Olympic medallist has not been forgotten.

Tan Howe Liang shared the stage and the spoils with Singapore's latest Olympic medallists at a celebration on Saturday. Like the three table tennis players – Feng Tianwei, Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu – Mr Tan received a warm reception from the crowd, as well as a S$10,000 cheque from NTUC FairPrice.

Seah Kian Peng, managing director of NTUC FairPrice, said: "He continues to be a great inspiration to the entire sporting fraternity and to all Singaporeans. People like him are able to inspire people like us to try to do what we believe we can.

"He continues to be highlighted at each Olympics because he is a big inspiration, and he remains an active, humble person that everyone wants to help."

Mr Tan took silver for weightlifting in the 1960 Olympic Games – a first for Singapore. Back then, there were no cash reward schemes for sports excellence.

Since the women's table tennis team took the silver in Beijing and with it, a S$750,000 cash reward, there have been calls for Mr Tan to be rewarded as well for his trail-blazing feat 48 years ago.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "I am glad they did that, it's a good gesture and we remember him fondly because for 48 years, he was the one man who broke through and it has taken us a long time to equal his record."

As for Singapore's first Olympic hero, he declined to give a TV interview, but said he was grateful for the recognition and the cash gift.

- CNA/so

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