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Tao Li Stands Tall In Hall Of Fame

Sport Hall of Fame Induction

The word “first” was used repeatedly in a citation video to describe Tao Li’s sport achievements preceding her induction into Singapore’s Sport Hall of Fame on 9 November 2019. She was the first Singaporean swimmer in 24 years to win a gold medal at the Asian Games, the first Singaporean to win gold at more than one edition of the Asiad, first Singaporean and Southeast Asian female to qualify for an Olympic swimming final, and the first and only Singaporean to win an event at the FINA Swimming World Cup series.

Her sport successes inspired the nation to believe that Singapore can produce world-class swimmers. After retiring from competitive sport, the Singapore Sports School alumna continues to be heavily involved in the swimming community by nurturing the next generation of swim stars through Tao Li Swimming Club. Tao Li also believes in paying forward what she has received from Singapore. As such, she provides free lessons to students of Rainbow Centre Special School and also organised a charity swim to raise funds for SportCares which reaches out to youths at-risk and the less-privileged.

“Every step of my journey, I had unimaginable support from the Singapore public. It's this one-ness as a nation that built my confidence, love for Singapore, and made me want to be an inspiration for young Singaporeans. It's Singapore that has shaped me into what I am,” said Tao Li.

Tao Li joins more than 50 other athletes in the Sport Hall of Fame which includes sport personalities like C Kunalan, Fandi Ahmad and Joseph Schooling. She and two-time pencak silat World Champion Shakir Juanda were inducted into the Hall of Fame at Team Singapore’s send-off ceremony for its athletes competing at three major Games – the Philippines 2019 Southeast Asian Games, Philippines 2020 ASEAN Para Games, and Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games. The Sport Hall of Fame was established in 1985 and honours Singapore’s top athletes who have achieved outstanding sport performances and instilled national pride among Singaporeans. Inductees must also be role models to the local community while inspiring and nurturing younger athletes.

Notable Achievements
  • Beijing 2008 Olympic Games: First Singaporean and female Southeast Asian swimmer to qualify for an Olympic final (Women’s 100m Butterfly 5th place)
  • Doha 2006 Asian Games: First Singaporean swimmer in 24 years to win gold at the Asian Games (Women’s 50m Butterfly) and second-ever Asian Games gold medallist
  • Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games: First Singaporean swimmer to win gold at more than 1 Asian Games (retained her title in the Women’s 50m Butterfly)
  • 2008 FINA Swimming World Cup: First and only Singaporean swimmer to win an event at the FINA Swimming World Cup series; she won it three times

  • Two-time Sportswoman of the Year (2007, 2008)
  • Founder of Tao Li Swimming Club
  • Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games Chef de mission
  • Singapore Olympic Academy Speaker

“When I swam for Singapore, I wanted to be the best. For all the gold medals that I won for Singapore, it was so that we could all sing Majulah Singapura together. I never thought of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. It is a surprise, and an honour. I hope that my story will spur the younger athletes to want to be the best for Singapore. I won my first Sea Games gold medal at the Philippines 2005 Sea Games. I was 15 years old. I had just become a new citizen. It was awesome to be able to do something astonishing for my new home.

“I knew it would be the start of something, I just didn't know what then. And I went on to win my first Asian Games gold medal. It showed me that I could do more, and with support from Singapore Sports School and Singapore Swimming Association, then, Singapore Sports Council now renamed Sport Singapore, SNOC, I went all the way to my first Olympic Games in Beijing 2008. Being 5th in an A Final... I will never forget my race.”
– Tao Li, Singapore Sports School Alumna
2019 Sport Hall of Fame Inductee