Achievements of Singapore women's water polo team in China

(Xinhua) 16:16, September 27, 2023

HANGZHOU, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Leaving the pool, Ong Xuan Rong Rochelle and Lim Wan Jun Nicole Kristen had smiles on their faces.

Unlike many professional teams, most of the Singaporean team are "part-time players."

"I work at the swimming association as my main job, and she is still in her fourth year of college," Ong pointed to her teammate Lim.

In Singapore, women's water polo is a niche sport with just a small number of participants and low levels of attention. Most of Ong's teammates only began playing water polo when they were 17 or 18 years old.

"A friend introduced me to this sport when I was in the college. I found it more interesting than swimming because it involves a ball, and you can play and practice with it," Ong said.

Building a connection with water polo propelled Ong onto the stage of the Asian Games, but the journey has not been easy.

Due to their regular jobs, Ong could only train from 5:30 am to 8 am, before going to work. After work, she trains again from 7 pm to 9:30 pm. Although she is not a professional athlete, Ong's seven to eight years of water polo experience led to many injuries on her hands and feet.

But she feels it is all worth it.

"I really love this sport. Water polo is challenging, so I wanted to challenge myself," Ong said. "Coming here, we can exchange experiences with different teams. We had many gains today and played better than yesterday, creating more attacking opportunities. That's more important than the result."

Lim added: "This experience is great because very few people play water polo in Singapore. So here, we can learn a lot. And more importantly, we can further promote the development of water polo in Singapore."

In Tuesday's match, the Singaporean team fell to hosts China 26-2 but their head coach Lee Sai Meng considered the journey to Hangzhou a valuable experience.

He said that the facilities at the Hangzhou Asian Games water polo venue are excellent. Many team members were exposed to such great facilities for the first time. Competing in such a venue against outstanding teams can draw more Singaporeans' attention to and participate in water polo.

In August, they participated in the Universiade in Chengdu, and in September, they came to Hangzhou to compete in the Asian Games.

"We saw pandas in Chengdu, so adorable. We haven't had a chance to explore Hangzhou yet, but the food in the Asian Games village is delicious, and the opening ceremony was spectacular," Lim said.

"If you return to China after just one year, you will see significant changes here," Lee said. He visited Hangzhou in 2018 and now feels that "the city is cleaner and better-planned."

Before the game, Lee and the players set the goal for the Asian Games - to finish in the top four. However, the Singaporean team has suffered two consecutive defeats. "Regardless of the outcome, I will continue playing," Ong said.

"I will too. After graduation, I will continue, and I hope that Singapore women's water polo can gain more recognition," Lim said.

"Everything is getting better," Lee said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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