New Sports Hub CEO Oon Jin Teik is Mr Nice Guy
Posted by Jonathan M. McCoy on 16th June 2019

I’ve acknowledged Oon Jin Teik for 38 years, which makes doing this interview sense a touch ordinary.

We were in the same 12 months in junior university, where he becomes a high-profile however low-key scholar.

He became a countrywide swimmer, an achieved violinist gambling with the Singapore Philharmonic Orchestra, and have been head prefect at Anglo-Chinese School.
He turned into also named Singapore’s Sportsboy of the Year 1980, our first yr at Anglo-Chinese Junior College.

But he wore his achievements modestly. He becomes famous but quiet and shy. He did not dangle out with the jocks inside the canteen. He did not strut across the way a few lesser-decorated athletes did. He kept his head low – literally – and always appeared a touch bashful.

In the decades that observed, we might run into every different professionally and socially.

Today’s lunch is the commercial enterprise, as we are meeting to speak approximately his new position. Last month, he becomes named the new chief executive officer of the Singapore Sports Hub.

Built at a fee of $1.33 billion and spread over 35ha, the Sports Hub includes the National Stadium, Singapore Indoor Stadium, OCBC Arena, OCBC Aquatic Centre and Kallang Wave Mall.

He was its leader running officer in view that 2014, and performing CEO after the surprising departure of his predecessor, Mr. Manu Sawhney, last May.

He has chosen to fulfill at one of the govt suites at the National Stadium. Our lunch is courtesy of SATS Delaware North, which is at the back of the catering and food and beverage at the Sports Hub.

A table has been set in the middle of the room, which overlooks the stadium’s unique purple and white stands. The pitch within the middle is a sea of brown sand today due to the fact the grass is in the nursery, it is a non-pitch season.

A menu on the desk reveals that lunch will comprise a salmon appetizer, chicken consomme, pork and black woodland cake.

Oon, 54, walks in, blazer over an open-collared shirt. The remaining time we might meet changed into nearly 3 years ago. Barring a bit more gray in his nonetheless-thick hair, his seems have not changed that much from whilst he turned into in college.

His way, too, has remained constant this kind of years. He has constantly been unassuming and polite and he nonetheless is so today, like when he thanks the waiter whenever the person brings us the food and fills up our glasses of water.

“Nice” is a phrase that vegetation up frequently when human beings talk about him. My colleagues on the Sports desk say he has a popularity in sporting circles for being a decent man.

But interviewing him can be a frustrating exercising due to the fact even as he’s happy to talk, he’s guarded and does not reveal tons or provide good sound bites. As a colleague positioned it, “he is a pleasing chap, however, interviewing him is like panning for gold”.

I congratulate him on his appointment, which he accepts without fuss.

Although he isn’t new to the Sports Hub function, he is excited because he now has the potential to “actually pass ahead and direct the delivery that manner”.

The Sports Hub – especially the National Stadium – has had its share of challenges and horrific press because it opened in June 2014. The proceedings have included the negative first-rate of the grass pitch, a leaky roof, and a muffled sound system. There have been additionally body of workers morale issues.

Much of that has been constant, and chief amongst his challenges now is to ensure there are enough activities and occasions to draw the crowds.

HE COMES to the activity with a completely unique heritage of having handled sports at one of a kind levels.

As a swimmer, he donned country wide colors for 21 years. From 2004 to 2010, he turned into leader govt of the Singapore Sports Council, the statutory board that promotes sports and which is now called Sports Singapore.

He has put in time as the Sports Hub’s COO and has additionally viewed the enterprise through the lens of an authentic. In 2014, he has become secretary-popular of the Singapore Swimming Association, a function he nonetheless holds.

“I’ve been on many sides,” he says. “Not best simply the sports side however additionally the business aspect of the equation.”

He hadn’t deliberated on a profession in sports, however, the seed of it changed into planted very early.

His overdue father, a dentist, and his housewife mom, now 88, got him commenced in swimming when he changed into six. At the peak of his swimming career, he did the breaststroke and freestyle inside the 100m and 200m. “But I am not a Joseph Schooling,” he laughs.

He cannot remember how many SEA Games medals he has won. He has Asian Games bronze to his name. In the 1980s, he was a part of Singapore’s celebrated swimming relay quartet with Ang Peng Siong, David Lim and his brother Jin Gee, who is 4 years more youthful. They took component in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

School days were an ordinary of waking up at 4.30am for five.15am training, then instructions, then piano and violin training, tuition, after which returned to the pool within the evening.

“My mother and father believed in being all-rounded. They never pushed me for grades and always believed that I needed to have a balance, and my balance then had a look at, swimming and music.”

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Training in the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties was pretty fundamental. He recollects wearing out his swimsuits so speedy that, to save on new ones, his mom would purchase nylon material and sew him swimsuits. They had been of thicker cloth than the sleek keep-bought ones, which induced him some embarrassment whilst pals asked: “what is which you’re sporting?”

But at the time, you simply put on what got here along,” he says, noting that these days, elite swimmers train with huge, baggy swimsuits to get the drag. “So I changed into certainly carrying a drag match then.”