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Memorable moments in Singapore sports history

In honor of National Day, ESPN Singapore offers a look at notable instances in the country's sports history. From breaking ground on the former National Stadium just one year after 1965 to marquee football matches, Singapore has borne witness to many historical events. In no particular order, here are ten memorable moments from Singapore's sporting past.

  • Joseph Schooling won Singapore's first and only Summer Olympics gold medal during the 2016 Rio games. Schooling beat world record holder Michael Phelps in the 100-metre butterfly finals, pulling off one of the most extraordinary upsets in Olympic swimming history.

    "I swam faster than I did four years to win (in London), Phelps said at the time. "But Joe's tough. Obviously he's had a great year last year and had a really great last two years so hats off to him."

    Like a lot of swimmers, Schooling was inspired by Phelps. The two met when Schooling was 13, posing for a photograph.

    Phelps was in Singapore in 2008 attending a training camp before the Beijing Olympics. One of the practice facilities he used was the same pool Schooling trained.

    "This is all just so crazy," Schooling said following the win. "But it shows that people from the smallest countries in the world can do extraordinary things.


  • The Singapore Open was played for the first time in 1961. The tournament has been held on and off since and counts Adam Scott (2005, 2006, 2010), Ian Poulter (2009) and Sergio Garcia (2018) among its notable winners. One of the tournament's top moments came in 2016 when South Korea's Song Young-han defeated American Jordan Spieth by a shot to win the event. Spieth had just come off an impressive 2015 season where he won five major tournaments, including the Masters and the U.S. Open.


  • Paula Creamer's 10th and most recent LPGA victory came at the HSBC Women's Champions tournament in 2014. Creamer hit a 75-foot eagle putt on the second-playoff hole against Spaniard Azahara Munoz to win. Michelle Wie also had success at the event in 2018 when she had final-day charge and carded a seven under par to beat four golfers by a stroke.


  • Construction began on the first Singapore National Stadium in 1966. The venerable venue was opened in 1973 and officially closed in 2007. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali fought five rounds at the stadium in an exhibition bout in 1973. The Singapore Sports Hub, which houses the new National Stadium, was built on the same site and opened in June 2014.


  • The Singapore Grand Prix became a regular event on the F1 schedule in 2008. Sebastian Vettel currently holds the most number of wins at the Marina Bay Street Circuit at five, one more than Lewis Hamilton, while Nico Rosberg won the event in 2016 en route to winning the F1 title for the first time in his career. The 2020 Singapore GP will not take place due to complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic.


  • The WTA held its season-ending finals in Singapore between 2014 and 2018. Serena Williams, who also won the U.S. Open in 2014, took the inaugural tournament.


  • In 1984, Singapore welcomed the rest of the Asian football world to the country to host the Asian Cup. Singapore beat India 2-0 in their first game of the tournament but ultimately did not make it out of the group stage. Saudi Arabia beat China 2-0 for the title.


  • In 2018, Cheyenne Goh became the first Singaporean athlete to qualify for a Winter Olympic event. Goh qualified for the 1500-metre short track speed skating event at the Pyeongchang Games but failed to make it to the finals.


  • UFC held its first event in Singapore on January 4, 2017 where former featherweight champion Max Holloway fought on the undercard. UFC's most recent visit to Singapore took place on October 26, 2019, where Demian Maia defeated Ben Askren in the main event via a third-round submission.


  • Singapore hosted the International Champions Cup for the third consecutive year in 2019 and welcomed Manchester United, Tottenham, Juventus and Inter Milan. Global stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba and Harry Kane graced the Singapore SportsHub. International club soccer has been coming to the country for the last 40 years. The New York Cosmos, of the now defunct North American Soccer League, were the first to do so in 1979. Led by German Franz Beckenbauer, the Cosmos beat the Singapore national team 4-1. The first European side to visit was Bayern Munich in 1983, where the national team upset the German giants 2-1.

ESPN's Stats and Information Group contributed to this report.