TeamNUS sporting talents shine bright at 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou

TeamNUS athletes excelled once more on the regional stage, exhibiting much grace, strength, and determination as they pulled off a successful outing at the 19th Asian Games and brought home one silver and two bronze medals.

The most recent edition of the Asian Games saw around 12,000 athletes from 45 nations competing in 40 sports. Delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 19th Asian Games was held from 23 September to 8 October 2023 in Hangzhou, China.

Amongst the 431-strong Singapore contingent at Hangzhou 2022 were 65 sportspersons from TeamNUS, or around 15 per cent of the entire contingent. These consisted of 27 students, 37 alumni and one staff member, who represented Singapore across 27 sports disciplines ranging from athletics and fencing, to aquatic sports such as swimming and sailing, and even mind sports such as contract bridge.

No pet event, no problem

It was the maiden appearance at the Asian Games for Kimberly Ong, Year 2 NUS Law student, and the omission of her pet event, the daoshu and gunshu combined event, meant that she had to pivot and train for the changquan event which she was less familiar with instead.

Kimberly, a two-time SEA Games gold medallist, was nevertheless undeterred, putting up a sterling performance to clinch a bronze medal in the event with a score of 9.756, bringing home Singapore’s first Asian Games medal in wushu since 2014.

“I was completely not expecting a medal at all,” said Kimberly. “My competitors were quite strong, so coming in I didn’t want to put pressure on myself. I told myself to focus on my performance and (do) my best.”

“It’s a testament to my hard work over the past few months. I’m more comfortable competing in daoshu and gunshu and because of the Asian Games I’ve learnt to like changquan a bit more,” she added.

Sailing into a silver

Meanwhile, it has been a long journey to a medal for alumni Mr Justin Liu (NUS Business, Class of 2019) and Ms Denise Lim (Nursing, Class of 2013), who have been competing in sailing for over a decade. The couple, who are married, took home the silver medal in the Mixed Nacra 17 event.

The couple’s earlier hopes of competing at the 2014 and 2018 editions of the Asian Games were dashed when they failed to qualify for the former, and their category was not featured in the latter edition. Therefore, having the opportunity to race together, and coming away with a medal, made their Hangzhou 2022 experience even more fulfilling.

“We're incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to race at the Asian Games and represent Singapore. We've been campaigning for many years, while receiving so much support from the community, family, friends, colleagues and many other people, and to cap it off with a medal has been a really amazing journey,” said Justin and Denise.

“We're incredibly lucky to still be able to do what we love and very proud of what we have been able to achieve. We are also extremely grateful to NUS for the continued support all these years, even from all the way back during our undergraduate days!” they shared.

Stamina and perseverance pays off

For Ms Jazlene Ong, representing Singapore in contract bridge required much stamina to sit through the long and mentally tiring tournaments. Jazlene, who is a data scientist at NUS Office of Data and Intelligence, prepared for her Games experience by training doubly hard even on weekends, playing more boards than the usual in tournaments, and taking part in as many competitions as possible in the lead-up to the Asian Games.

The efforts by Jazlene and her teammates came to fruition as they clinched a team bronze medal in the women’s contract bridge event. It was a full circle moment for the mind sports player, who was unsuccessful in making the cut to represent Singapore in sailing at the Asian Games in 2014. She picked up contract bridge shortly after and started representing Singapore in 2016.

“The Asian Games was amazing!” enthused Jazlene. “Hangzhou was a great host – volunteers were friendly, loads of activities, cool tech on display. We came in hoping to win at least a bronze medal, but our games started off very rocky. So, it was such a relief when we managed to come back strong,” she explained.

Congratulations to all our TeamNUS athletes who have continued to fly Singapore’s flag high!