31st SEA Games Vietnam - Journey to Hanoi: Kingsley Tay, Eliza Chong and Ong Wei Yu seek redemption

Singapore's beach volleyball athletes look to give their all in possible swansong SEA Games, after disappointment at the 2019 SEA Games

Kingsley Tay of the men's beach volleyball team is hoping to make amends after the team narrowly missed out on a bronze medal at the 2019 SEA Games in Subic, Philippines. PHOTO: SPORTPLUS.SG


It has been a rollercoaster ride for Singapore's beach volleyball athletes.


Having qualified for the SEA Games, they did not initially make the cut for Singapore National Olympic Council's list of sports that would be making the trip up to Vietnam to compete in the 31st SEA Games.


Following a successful appeal, the teams can now heave a huge sigh of relief and get down to business in preparing for competition against ASEAN's best on sand for volleyball in a week's time.

This is the second time women's beach volleyball athlete Eliza Chong will feature at the regional SEA Games. PHOTO: SPORTPLUS.SG


The competition for beach volleyball at this SEA Games is set to be contested in Tuần Châu Island in Hạ Long City in the northern province of Quảng Ninh.


Lamenting how the team missed out on the bronze medal at the last edition of the SEA Games in Philippines, Kingsley Tay from the men's beach volleyball team is seeking redemption - and hopes the team will bounce back to possibly win a first volleyball medal in over 40 years, despite having a relatively more inexperienced squad than 3 years ago.


"Some of the guys in the team are my ex indoor volleyball teammates, as in Singapore most of us start from playing indoor volleyball," said Tay.

Kingsley Tay leaps highest to spike in a training match at the Singapore Sports Hub PHOTO: SPORTPLUS.SG


"This is the first time two of them are making their SEA Games Beach Volleyball debut, so I would say we are a bit more inexperienced for this discipline."


When asked how his role in the team has changed since 2015 when he made his SEA Games debut in indoor volleyball, Tay says he hopes to use his experience to help his teammates manage the pressure and stress.

Singapore beach volleyball athletes Ong Wei Yu (left) and Eliza Chong are experienced athletes who have played at international level, but are competing as a pair for the first time. PHOTO: SPORTPLUS.SG


Women's Team: New Pairing for Eliza and Wei Yu


For the women's beach volleyball team, Eliza Chong and Ong Wei Yu are a new pairing although neither are short on international experience having competed at different Major Games, as well as other FIVB International tournaments over the years.


Having narrowly missed out on Commonwealth Games qualification in Sri Lanka after reaching the final two months ago, the duo now turn their eyes to the SEA Games, and are seen as more senior athletes in a relatively youthful side looking to make a mark at this year's competition.

Eliza Chong attempts a spike in a training match with the women's beach volleyball team. PHOTO: SPORTPLUS.SG


Chong, who made her SEA Games debut in 2019 partnering Gladys Lee, is optimistic having had a good recent run of games with Wei Yu in the FIVB Pro Futures in Thailand.


"We have good chemistry, and we did pretty decent against many of the SEA Games teams as well as a few Commonwealth Games teams," she said.


She added, "The Thailand competition gives us some confidence, being just a month away from SEA Games as it gives us a gauge of how we stand against our rivals in the region."

Ong Wei Yu will make her SEA Games debut in Vietnam, having missed out on the last edition. PHOTO: SPORTPLUS.SG


For Ong, who also works as a fitness trainer, getting to partner Chong at international level having been friends for many years makes it an easy and natural transition.


She singled out Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam is likely podium finishers at this year's SEA Games, but fancies Singapore's chances as well.


"It has been a memorable experience, and I am excited to finally make my SEA Games debut having missed out on the 2019 Games as I stopped competing for a few years," said Ong, who featured at the 2018 Commonwealth Games with Lau Ee Shan.

Eliza Chong is optimistic for a better showing from the team this time out following pre-tournament competitions and preparations the last two months. PHOTO: SPORTPLUS.SG


"We are looking forward to Vietnam, and hopefully we can give our best and do Singapore proud," she finished.


The 31st Southeast Asian Games will be taking place from 12 - 23 May 2022 in Hanoi, Vietnam.


SportPlus.sg is pleased to join hands with TikTok, the world's fastest growing social media platform, to shine the spotlight on the journeys of 10 of Singapore's SEA Games athletes in this 8-part series, and assist athletes with TikTok content creation to amplify their online presence for the Games.


Special thanks to Team Singapore, Singapore Athletics, Singapore Badminton Association, Basketball Association of Singapore, Football Association of Singapore, Singapore Silat Federation, Singapore Swimming, Volleyball Association of Singapore, Singapore Underwater Federation, ActiveSG Sport Centres and Chinese Swimming Club for supporting this series.


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