Olympic-Level Competitions Singaporeans Have Won Besides Swimming
Joseph Schooling is arguably Singapore’s most famous golden boy – having won the Olympic gold medal for swimming against Michael Phelps.
But there are equally talented Singaporeans in every field who are blazing trails on the global stage.
Here are 10 lesser-known Olympic-level champs who may deserve a million dollars too, or perhaps more recognition.
1. Shoe-Shining Olympics
Yup, you didn’t read that wrong. A Singaporean has come out tops in the national Shoe-Shining Olympics.
His name is John Chung. Check out footage from his stellar win here.
After starting his shoe-shining company in 2013, he travelled the world to learn new techniques.
In a post-win interview, he shared that he developed his own spin on shoe-shining, adapted from the way Japanese polishers use their fingers to press wax into shoes.
2. Violin Olympics
Try to remember what you were up to when you were 11 years old.
Well, if dreading PSLE was your answer, perhaps you should take a leaf out of violinist Chloe Chua’s book.
She clinched top honours in the Menuhin Competition – the Violin Olympics – on 20 Apr 2018.
For her efforts, she won S$13,500, a 1-year-loan for a vintage Italian violin, as well as praise from President Halimah Yacob herself.
Judging by the fact that she’s been honing her violin skills since the age of 4 at NAFA, we think this talented young prodigy deserves a lot more.
3. Comic Book Olympics
Sonny Liew made history by being the first to win an Eisner Award for his graphic novel, The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye.
He bagged 3 impressive accolades for ‘Best Writer/Artist’, ‘Best Publication Design’ and ‘Best US Edition of International Material – Asia’.
That’s basically the highest honour a comic artist can hope for, as the competition is seen as the “Oscars” of the comics industry.
He’s currently working on a commissioned piece with National Arts Council (NAC), whom he’s had a tumultuous relationship with.
NAC famously withdrew their $8,000 grant on his work based on its ‘controversial content’, but it seems like they’ve worked out their creative differences since then.
4. Choir Olympics
The choir scene is ironically pretty muted in our national consciousness.
This is despite local choirs clinching multiple Golds and World Champion placings on the world stage in the Choir Olympics.
Esteemed Singaporean choral conductor Nelson Kwei, has led his choirs to 8 Gold Medals, and 3 World Champion placings in the Choir Olympics held in Bremen, Germany & Xiamen.
Local junior college choir, Hwa Chong Choir also deserves a shoutout.
Helmed by Ms Lim Ai Hooi – they also bagged 2 Gold medals and a World Champion placing back in 2008.
5. Math Olympics
Singapore participants have always had a stellar showing at the International Math Olympiad.
Since our first run in 1988, 30 years ago, we’ve garnered 17 Golds, 48 Silvers and 68 Bronzes.
As this world championship for high school students, spans 100 countries from 5 continents, we think that’s not a bad achievement at all.
6. Public Speaking Olympics
Darren Tay, then a 27-year-old lawyer, became the first Singaporean to become World Champion of a public-speaking competition in 2016.
He beat 9 other international orators to clinch the top spot in the prestigious annual event.
Check out his rousing speech about bullying – which went viral on the Internet – here.
The next year, another Singaporean, Mr Manoj Vasudevan won gold again in the same competition held in Vancouver, Canada.
7. Sci-Fi Olympics
The Nebula Awards, aka the Emmys of the Sci-Fi world, is but a pipe dream for most Singaporeans.
But not one, but two Singaporeans made the nomination list for the awards this year.
JY Yang’s work, The Black Tides Of Heaven – shortlisted for ‘Best Novella’ – is about twins Mokoya and Akeha with supernatural powers who venture into a “silkpunk” world.
Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s A Series of Steaks is up for ‘Best Novelette’. Inspired by the counterfeit food industry, it’s about two women from Nanjing who “forge quality beef”.
Her second nomination is for ‘Best Short Story’.
Fandom For Robots is a light-hearted romp about a sentient robot who writes fanfiction about Japanese anime.
Notable nominees and past-winners of the Nebula Awards include Game of Thrones, Ender’s Game and The Bicentennial Man, which have gone on to inspire multi-million dollar TV series and movies.
8. Street Fighter Olympics
A man named Ho Kun Xian is the world champion in Street Fighter, but most Singaporeans don’t even know his name.
From humble beginnings in a 1-room HDB flat, Xian worked odd jobs as a cargo lifter and hawker assistant before going for NS.
His meteoric rise to fame in the gaming world came in 2013, when he won the Evolution Championship Series in Las Vegas.
After beating 1,600 players, and winning US$5,700, he was crowned the world’s best Street Fighter.
Now he plays competitively as part of Razer’s team, with the full support of his family.
9. Film Olympics
Cannes Film Festival. Only THE most prestigious affair in the film industry.
Well, Singaporean film, Ilo Ilo made history by being the first to win the Caméra d’Or award, after receiving a standing ovation at the film’s premiere during the festival.
Directed by Anthony Chen, and starring Singaporean actor Chen Tianwen, the film captured a quintessentially Singaporean story — the ups and downs of a young boy’s relationship with his domestic helper.
The film still holds an impressive 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes to date.
10. Clown Olympics
You may have heard of Captain America or Captain Marvel.
But what about Captain Dazzle?
Singapore’s premier professional clown lays claim to the title of Best Clown In The World.
He snagged bragging rights after winning the ‘All Around Clown’ award two years in a row, in the US-based World Clown Association competition.
Alternating between his Captain Dazzle and ‘Bubbles the Magic Clown’ persona, Edmund Khong performs at over 320 shows every year.
Bringing joy – and loads of balloon animals – to children all over Singapore, while managing his online business, Star Dazzle Concepts.
Champions in their own right
With so many Singaporeans making a name for themselves overseas, we’ve got tons of reasons to celebrate.
To all you dreamers out there in your own fields, if they can do it — so can you.
Featured image from The Hanger Project.