Ang Peng Siong
Photo courtesy of SSC.
Ang Peng Siong
Date of Birth: 27 October 1962
Competitive Career: 1978 - 2005 (active)
Hall of Fame:
Sportsman of the Year 1982, 1983, 1984
IOC Award for Excellence in Sports and Studies
Number 5 in Singapore's 50 Greatest athletes (Straits Times, 1999)
Ang Peng Siong is in a class of his own. His first swim for Singapore against international competition was in 1978, when he was selected for the Asian Games team, twenty-six years later, he might have been defending his World Masters title in Riccione, Italy, but for the responsibilities of supporting the preparations for the Olympics and the Paralympics in Athens.
The Record Holder
Peng Siong is the son of Ang Teck Bee, the 1964 Judo Olympian. At 18, Peng Siong gained a sports scholarship to Houston University after he was talent-spotted at the Hawaii International Invitational Meet in 1980. His coach Phill Hansel ensured that his progress was swift and dramatic. Two years later, he was awarded a special medal to commemorate the day he achieved the world's fastest time for the 50-metre freestyle: 22.69 seconds. The event had yet to be reintroduced to the Olympic Games (it was not held during the period 1904-1984). A repeat of his 1982 time in Seoul (1988) would have given Peng Siong the bronze medal.
Gold medal - Ang Peng Siong (10th Asian Games, 1986) (Photo courtesy of SSC)
Also in 1982, Peng Siong won gold at the 9th Asian Games in New Delhi in the 100-metre freestyle. The crowning moment of the year came when he was declared Sportsman of the Year by the SNOC. He later became the first sportsman to win the award three year running.
Best known as a freestyler, Peng Siong is still versatile enough to be the current national record holder in the 100-metre butterfly event, a record he has held since 1982. Somewhat unrecognized by the public have been his successes in the World Maters, a competition for different age groups. A regular since 2000, he finished in medal-winning positions in four out of five events in which he competed, and came fourth in the last event (the 50-metre backstroke)! Today, Peng Siong works in his own swimming school, the APS Swim School, and believes that 'Sportsmen are not usually looked to as entrepreneurs. I think this will show that there is life for sportsmen past their prime. There is nothing wrong with making a living out of our talent and doing something for the country." He travels for the cause of swimming and is a persistent advocate of the progress of the sport in Singapore. He has been the head coach of the Singapore swim team at the SEA Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games.
The consummate athlete believes that 'to achieve higher goals means tremendous psychological and mental toughness, because te road to excellence is paved with pain, toil and sweat.'
Relaxed and casual on Olympians Night at the SCC, July 2004 (Photo courtesy of SCC)
The Final Word
'Considered the most exciting swim meet in the world... winning the 50-yard freestyle at the NCAA Division I Swimming & Diving Championships held in Indianapolis, Indiana (1983) was one of my most memorable moments in swimming. The event was just electrifying and intense. Another event would be the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, winning the consolation finals in the 100-metre freestyle event with a new national record time. My dad, mum and [wife] Wendy were in the crowd, cheering... it was nice feeling to have your family there to share the moment. You know that you've done Singapore proud when spectators start asking the question: "Where is Singapore?"'
A Special Commendation
During the third heat of the 100-metre freestyle in Los Angeles, Peng Siong recorded the 15th fastest time (51.66). He led at the 50-metre mark (24.59) but was caught by Stephan Caron of France, who eventually tied for sixth place in the A final. The performance in the heat secured Peng Siong a place in the B Final.
On 31 July 1984, Peng Siong recorded a time of 51.09 in the B Final. He again led at the halfway mark (24.38) but this time no one could catch him. Peng Siong became the ninth fastest 100-metre freestyler in the Games.
Ang Peng Siong fully merits the special commendation of being one of Singapore's top ten Olympic finishers.