WEEKLY ROUND-UP: Sports happenings in Singapore (30 Jan-5 Feb)

Top golfers to take part in Singapore tournaments, while National School Games sees introduction of new competition format

Ex-Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn (left) will be taking part in the 2023 Singapore Classic, while world No.3 women's golfer Minjee Lee will be participating in the HSBC Women's World Championship. (PHOTOS: Reuters/Getty Images)
Ex-Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn (left) will be taking part in the 2023 Singapore Classic, while world No.3 women's golfer Minjee Lee will be participating in the HSBC Women's World Championship. (PHOTOS: Reuters/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Here is a round-up of sports events and developments in Singapore in the past week (30 January to 5 February):

New competition format for National School Games

Student-athletes at the upper primary and lower secondary levels will soon have more opportunities to compete, with the National School Games (NSG) introducing new classification and league formats to replace its zone and national competitions for Senior and C Division sports.

In a shift away from the traditional geographical-based zonal competitions, participants will first compete against schools across Singapore in a classification round.

School teams will then progress to round-robin competitions in the new league round and play against teams of similar abilities, with teams in the top League competing for the divisional championship titles.

This format will allow most student-athletes to play more matches throughout the whole competition, as compared to the traditional zonal competitions where half of the student-athletes will play three to five matches at the zonal level.

The table tennis, tennis and water polo competitions will be conducted under the new competition format this year, with more sports joining next year.

More than 60,000 student-athletes will be able to participate fully in all 29 sports in this year's NSG, as there is no longer a need for modifications due to COVID-19 restrictions. Competition elements such as kyorugi (sparring) for taekwondo and 15-a-side for rugby will return.

Ex-Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn at S'pore Classic

Former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn will return to Singapore for the first time since 2012, when he tees it up at the Singapore Classic at Laguna National Golf Resort Club from 9 to 12 February.

The 51-year-old Dane, who masterminded Europe’s victory over the United States in 2018, returned to the winner’s circle at the MCB Tour Championship on the Legends Tour in December.

Joining Bjorn is former Ryder Cup teammate Rafa Cabrera Bello, who was unbeaten in three matches during his maiden Ryder Cup appearance in 2016. The Spanish star is a four-time winner on the DP World Tour.

Also set to tee it up in Singapore are the Asian trio of Wu Ashun of China, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Malaysian Gavin Green. Japanese former world No.1 amateur Taiga Semikawa will also make his DP World Tour debut at the Singapore Classic

The Singapore Classic marks the return of the DP World Tour to Singapore for the first time since 2014. Tickets are available on the Sistic website.

Top 5 women's golfers at HSBC Women's World C'ship

Entries have closed for the HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa Golf Club, with 18 of the world’s top-20-ranked players confirmed in the field for the 2 to 5 March tournament.

The five best players in the world will lead the stellar line-up, as world No.3 Minjee Lee and No.4 Atthaya Thitikul join the previously-announced participations of Lydia Ko (world No.1), Nelly Korda (No.2) and defending champion Ko Jin-young (No.5).

All of last year’s Major champions are in the line-up: American Jennifer Kupcho (The Chevron Championship), Lee (US Open), South Korean Chun In-gee (KPMG LPGA Championship 2022), Canadian Brooke Henderson (The Amundi Evian Championship), and South African Ashleigh Buhai (AIG Women’s Open 2022) are all looking to win the coveted Women's World Championship for the first time.

There are still six spots to be claimed. The national qualifier will take place on 8 and 9 February, with one local golfer securing the chance to compete at the event. Five sponsor invitations will be announced in due course, along with the winner of the 2023 Honda LPGA Thailand, if not otherwise qualified.

Geylang sign agreement with City Football Group

Singapore Premier League (SPL) club Geylang International and City Football Group (CFG), owner of English Premier League champions Manchester City, formalised a collaboration agreement on Wednesday (1 February) that is set to contribute to the further development of the Eagles.

The agreement, which marks CFG’s first collaboration with a Southeast Asian football club, will enable Geylang to start tapping into CFG’s football expertise, know-how, technology, and best practices to improve their structure and operations.

Already, Geylang have benefitted from the access to CFG’s network, with the recruitment of Japanese forward Yushi Yamaya for the upcoming 2023 SPL season. A former academy player of Yokohama F. Marinos – J-League champions and part of the CFG family – Yamaya was scouted by CFG’s Group Football Operations department, following a detailed brief provided by Geylang International’s coaching staff.

Champs Blaze Dolphins lose in Netball Super League opener

Defending champions Blaze Dolphins suffered a narrow 49-51 defeat by Sneakers Stingrays on the opening day of the 2023 Deloitte Netball Super League at Our Tampines Hub on Saturday (4 February).

The Dolphins had a 41-35 lead to start the final quarter, but were let down by unforced errors as the Stingrays' Rebecca Leong converted eight of her 10 attempts down the stretch to secure the upset win.

In the other matches, the Llabten Narwhals fell 45-52 to the Swifts Barracudas in their first NSL appearance since 2020, while the Fier Orcas defeated the Mission Mannas 58-29.

Record number of entries at National Table Tennis Grand Finale

The National Table Tennis Grand Finale concluded on Sunday (5 February) and saw a record 480 entries for the event held on the Singapore Table Tennis Association's Toa Payoh premises.

Here are the top three winners of each category:

Men’s Singles: 1 Beh Kun Ting 2 Ethan Poh 3 Lucas Tan, Andy Wong.

Women’s Singles: 1 Zhang Wanling 2 Ser Lin Qian 3 Goi Rui Xuan, Wong Xin Ru.

Men’s Doubles: 1 Koen Pang/Izaac Quek 2 Clarence Chew/Ethan Poh 3 Josh Chua,/Lucas Tan, Beh Kun Ting/Dominic Koh.

Women’s Doubles: 1 Goi Rui Xuan/Wong Xin Ru 2 Jacy Mok/Tan Zhao Yun 3 Eudora Lee/Gisele Peh, Lam Teng Si/Mandy Wong.

Mixed Doubles: 1 Koen Pang/Wong Xin Ru 2 Izaac Quak/Ser Lin Qian 3 Ethan Poh/Goi Rui Xuan, Josh Chua/Zhang Wanling.

Pedalfest Singapore at Sports Hub

The Pedalfest Singapore cycling lifestyle festival will be held on 11 and 12 February at the Singapore Sports Hub, and will be host to events such as cycling films, health and wellness talks, upcycling workshops and spin challenges.

Headlining the packed programme is Azmi Hussin, more popularly known as ME, a famous cartoonist, caricaturist, illustrator and muralist hailing from Penang. Known online for his inspirational TED talk, Azmi will be using his BMX flatland skills to create a new abstract art piece.

Festive-goers can also sign up for CycleFightClub – a daily eCycling tournament - where riders compete one-on-one using smart trainers. Each day, 32 shortlisted riders will compete in a single-elimination tournament, with the last person standing winning $500 cash and an expenses-paid trip to an overseas cycling event.

There will be a screening of "MAMIL (Middle Age Men in Lycra)", a documentary about why white-collar professionals transform into lycra-clad road warriors every weekend. Narrated by cycling commentator Phil Liggett, the film tries to uncover why middle-aged men are so passionate about riding expensive carbon bikes.

A day-pass to Pedalfest Singapore costs $38 and comes with a complimentary pack worth over $50 including a limited edition T-shirt.

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