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At the beginning of the new millennium, Singapore Sports Council rolled out “Sporting Singapore”, an ambitious sports blueprint to transform Singapore into one of the top 10 sporting nations in Asia by 2010. This vision of Singapore as a sporting nation soon saw initiatives being rolled out over the years, for example, the formation of Team Singapore in 2001, the establishment of the Singapore Sports School in 2004 and the completion of the Singapore Sports Hub in 2014.

The idea to promote sporting greatness in Singapore is not new. More than 50 years ago in December 1964, Singapore organised its inaugural Pesta Sukan or “Sports Festival” which saw some 2,000 sportsmen from the Federation of Malaysia compete in friendly competitions as part of the Federation’s efforts to “encourage higher standards and greater interest in sport” while also promoting racial harmony at the same time. Renamed “Pesta Sukan Minggu Merdek” (Sports Festival Week Of Independence), the sports festival continued even after Singapore gained independence and soon become an annual feature as part of the National Day celebrations from 1966 to the 1970s. Our sporting scene has since flourished, producing numerous sporting heroes over the years.

(source: “Singapore Sports Council” on Infopedia and “Pesta Sukan” on HistorySG)

Oral History Interviews

1. Oral History Interview with Oon Jin Teik, Former National Swimmer
Acc No. 3592

Interacting with international athletes and sports professionals

2. Oral History Interview with Dollah Kassim, Former National Footballer
Acc No. 2793

The reception after winning the Malaysia Cup

3. Oral History Interview with Patricia Chan, Former National Swimmer and Singapore’s Golden Girl
Acc No. 2629

Representing Singapore at the SEAP Games

4. Oral History Interview with Lau Teng Chuan, Former Secretary-General of the Singapore National Olympic Council and widely known as the father of physical education in Singapore
Acc No. 1888

Representing Singapore at the SEAP Games

Audiovisual Recordings

1. News On Sunday
Date: 1993
Acc No. 1993000307
Mediacorp, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

On 3 October 1993, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong launched the Great Singapore Workout at the Padang. Formed as part of the National Healthy Lifestyle Programme, this low-impact 15-min aerobic fitness routine was created to promote the message that exercise is key in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. During the launch, a total of 26,107 participants took part, earning the Republic a mention in the Guinness Book of Records for the largest aerobic session held in one location.

2. Berita Singapura: 1. Visit To New Zealand 2. Singapore Cine Club 3. Bicycle Race
Date: 1965
Acc No. 1982000108
Ministry of Culture, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

The second edition of Pesta Sukan or “Festival of Sports” was held from 29 July to 9 August 1965. Organised by the Ministry of Social Affairs, the 12-day meet saw about 4,000 athletes across 11 Asian countries and Singapore compete in over 700 games such as archery, karting, sepak raga, chatek, fencing and bowling. For the cycling events, which was held around the Padang-district, Singapore cyclists took home the top honours for all five events: 1,000km massed – start sprint; 1,600km massed-start, 4,800km massed-start, 10,000km massed-start and the 4,800km team trial.

3. Berita Singapura: Adventures In Swimming: In The Swim
Date: 1974
Acc No. 2009003975
Ministry of Education, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

This programme teaches students about swimming. In this particular clip, a coach is conducting swimming lessons to eight children at a public pool in Singapore. Among the swimming techniques he is teaching, is to float on one’s back with the help of a swimming buddy.


Singapore Team that won the Malaya Cup 1952

1. Group photograph of the Singapore Team that beat Penang 3-2 and won the Malaya Cup in 1952.
Chia Boon Leong Collection, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

High jump event 1973

2. This image shows a high jump event during Thomson Shin Min Public School's Sports Day in 1973.
Shin Min Public School Collection, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

Fitness for life

3. Fitness for life – a group of mostly seniors practising qigong at Bukit Batok estate in the 1980s.
Ministry of Information and the Arts Collection, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore