SUniG 2018: Going for gold

15 Oct 2018

By Jill Marianne Arul

NTU is doing well in the 13th edition of the Singapore University Games (SUniG), and, as of 11 Oct, has bagged 14 gold, 16 silver and 13 bronze medals, placing second behind NUS.

NTU has earned a total of 9 championship points so far, an improvement from last year’s 8-point performance. The Games started on 8 Sep and ended on 15 Oct.

Turning the tide

NTU’s 20-strong aquathlon team pulled off an impressive podium sweep in both the men’s and women’s individual categories, placing first in both team categories.

This feat ended the university’s six-year streak of coming in second place.

“I feel really proud,” said captain Ronnie Lai, 22. “We usually lose to NUS by one to two minutes. But this time round, not only did we win the championship, we swept all the medals too.”

For the competition, athletes swam for 750 metres before running for five kilometres. The top few fastest timings were then added up to determine the teams’ placings. For the men’s category, the top five timings were added, while the top three timings were totalled for the women’s category.

The men’s team came in at 2 hours 37 minutes 47 seconds, about eight minutes ahead of NUS. The women’s team came in 1h 47min, about nine and a half minutes faster than NUS.

Their stellar performance was a result of a stricter training regiment, said Lai. This year, instead of starting intensive training in late August, the team began training earlier and had almost 10 sessions a week from July.

Each training session involved both the running and swimming components, so team members could decide which event they needed to train more for.

“I believe that’s how we improved. We had like-minded people all coming together to push each other,” said team captain Lai, a second-year School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences student. “When you have someone to push you, you can definitely go faster and endure for a longer time.”

Four of the medal-winning SUniG aquathletes this year were exchange students. For Isabella Sally Noble Sheldon and Harrison Fleming, this was their first aquathlon.

Isabella Sally Noble Sheldon, 21, an exchange student at NTU, finished third in the women's individual aquathlon category at 36min 31 sec.

Sheldon, 21, who is from Denmark, was keen to try out a new sport when she arrived at NTU. The third-year School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering student, who has competed in cross-country for five years, placed third in the women’s individual category with a timing of 36min 31sec.

She said: “I can’t really compare (aquathlons) to anything I’ve done before. I’m used to running, but never after swimming.”

Fleming, 21, an Australian, is an avid swimmer and runner who also competes for NTU’s swim team.

The final-year School of Civil and Environmental Engineering student came in at 31min 13sec and placed third in the men’s individual category.

“Over the last few weeks, I’ve met so many people that I consider really great friends,” said Fleming. “The team dynamic is really strong and I think it showed over the (competition) weekend how well we work together.”

Although the Games have ended, the team’s intensive training continues as they prepare for the Singapore Aquathlon on 4 Nov.

Defending the title

NTU's Mabel Koh (centre, in black), 20, was a constant threat against the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) team.

The women’s basketball team won the nals against Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) 52-33 to clinch their 10th consecutive SUniG title.

After losing to SIM at last year’s Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) Games, they came back with a vengeance to beat their opponent.

“It was a huge upset that we lost our title for IVP, but in a way it was a lesson for us to not get too comfortable with our winning streak,” said captain Amanda Lim, 22. “It really made us step up this year.”

Captain of the women's basketball team, Amanda Lim, 22, successfully executes a lay-up.

The team began intensive training in June and competed in the National Youth Sports Institute League in July to gain more game exposure and build team chemistry on the court. They won first place in the competition.

Two of the five new players that joined the team this year are Choo Jie Ying, 19, and Sharon Lee, 22 — members of Singapore’s National Youth basketball team.

“They are a great advantage to the team,” said Lim, a final-year student from Sports Science and Management.

“They’re really valuable in attack and defense, and one of them (Jie Ying) is very tall, that helps us too.”

During the finals at The Wave, SIM had initially been leading 11-10, but Choo, a first-year Nanyang Business School (NBS) student, made an impressive block mid-way through the second period to regain possession of the ball, allowing NTU to edge ahead.

The first half ended 24-16 to NTU, and as their supporters cheered them on, they remained in the lead until the final buzzer sounded.

“We didn’t start off that well, but towards the end we got our momentum back as a team. We wanted it very badly, and we kept reminding each other to stay focused and cherish each possession,” said Lee, a first-year NBS student.

Coming back stronger

Tessie Chin (centre, in white), 22, dives through SIM's defense line to score a try.

The touch football team started the season at a low, but fought back to eventually become the runners-up. In their opening game against NUS, they were in the lead in the first half but fumbled in the second half, ending the match with a score of 6-8.

“We lost our focus while defending, which cost us and allowed them to score,” said captain Nur Hidayah Joha, 22.

After the loss, the team restructured its play-ups and fought harder in their next three games to win convincingly against SMU, Singapore University of Technology and Design and SIM.

“We were more decisive in our attacks and managed to minimise our mistakes from NUS,” said Hidayah, a third-year School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering student.

Team member Clara Tan, 22, a second-year School of Social Sciences student, added: “Overall, for every game, we kept consistently improving — working on what we did in previous games individually and working together to improve.”

The team won their final match against SIM on Oct 8 with a score of 4-1.

The first half ended in a 1-1 tie, but NTU stepped up its play, tiring out the SIM girls. They managed to gain an advantage and kept their lead throughout the second half, scoring three more tries -- diving to place the ball over the try line at the end of the play area.

Hidayah said she was proud of her team, especially since at least half were new members who started training only a few months before.

“It was a progressive effort from everybody,” she said. “It was our last game and we really wanted to play as a team. We didn’t hold back and gave it our all.”

Vanoha Chiang, 22, runs forward to gain ground and draw in SIM defenders.