Crushing it on the mat & in the field

Actions /web/wcm/connect/pioneer/14f9eca1-0a23-484f-8797-dd2bdca2ce28/24jan24_news1_photo1.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-14f9eca1-0a23-484f-8797-dd2bdca2ce28-oQ-pg2P /web/portal/pioneer/article/feature-article-detail/people/2024-Q1/24jan24_news1
24jan24_news1 /web/portal/pioneer/article/feature-article-detail/people/2024-Q1/24jan24_news1
24 Jan 2024 | PEOPLE

Crushing it on the mat & in the field

SEA Games bronze medal winner CPT Tang balanced between being an Armour officer while representing the nation.

//Story & Video by Thrina Tham / Photos by Kenneth Lin / Cameraman Ajay Prashad

English 华文

Tankee by day, judoka by night. This was how Captain (CPT) Vincent Tang trained for over three months while preparing to compete in the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2022.

It was no easy balancing act. An Officer Cadet Instructor at School of Armour back then, he could only do his judo practice at night as he had a packed training regime with his cadets. He would then book back into Sungei Gedong Camp to be ready for work early the next morning.

CPT Tang balanced between being an Armour instructor while training for the 31st SEA Games in 2022.

His judo partner, Mr Lee Song Lim – incidentally a former Armour NSman (Operationally Ready National Serviceman) – was a dad and would only be able to train after putting his young daughters to bed.

Their hard work paid off as they came home with a bronze medal for Singapore.

CPT Tang (left) and Mr Lee clinched the judo kata bronze medal in an impressive combined display of form and technique at the 3st SEA Games in Vietnam. [Photo courtesy of CPT Tang]

"It felt surreal. Our first thought was 'Did we really win?' because the other countries were very strong in this category," recalled CPT Tang, 29.

"This was right before August, so it was a nice present for Singapore!"

Here are three things to know about the Army Regular and national athlete:

CPT Tang (right) executing his favourite throw on his training partner at the Singapore Judo Club, located in Kim Seng Community Centre.

1.  He has won multiple judo awards before SEA Games

A scrawny kid in the past, CPT Tang started judo during his polytechnic days to gain confidence through the sport. He discovered he had a knack for it and continued practising his judo even after graduating.

CPT Tang competes in both the fighting, known as "shiai", and kata aspects of judo. (For the uninitiated, kata is the form where practitioners demonstrate various offence and defence techniques rather than compete in a "fight".)

In 2013, he ranked 12th in his category in the World Judo Kata Championships held in Kyoto, Japan; and 4th in his category in the Asian Judo Kata Championships held locally.

He also represented his university in the 2019 Inter-Tertiary Championships for competitive judo and clinched the gold medal in the advanced category.

CPT Tang (right) and Mr Lee demonstrating some of the techniques tested in the kata form of judo.

Before the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam, he and Mr Lee took part in the 2022 World Martial Arts MasterShips, hosted virtually by Korea – where they won gold in their Kata category.

Though the newlywed CPT Tang decided to take a break from the most recent 32nd SEA Games to focus on work and marriage, he continues to practise judo twice weekly.

"(The judo club is like) a place for me to unwind. It's also nice because we have people from different backgrounds who are all here for the passion," he said.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) presenting the Sword of Honour to CPT Tang for topping his OCC cohort in 2016. [Photo: Officer Cadet School]

2.  He holds both a Golden Bayonet and a Sword of Honour

CPT Tang – who enlisted in 2014 – first graduated from the Specialist Cadet Course and served as a tank platoon sergeant.

With the support of his seniors, he joined and commissioned from the Officer Cadet Course (OCC) in 2016, signing on soon after.

In fact, he earned the Golden Bayonet and Sword of Honour respectively in the two courses. These are awarded to the top specialist cadet and officer cadet graduands in each cohort.

CPT Tang credited the achievement to his School Of Armour Tank instructors then, saying: "I'm grateful that I was in the good hands of my instructors, who guided me and imparted their knowledge. They've motivated me to inspire the next generation of future leaders as an instructor too."

CPT Tang (second from left, background) led a tank platoon at Exercise Panzer Strike in 2017.

His most memorable deployment was as a Platoon Commander leading his team at Exercise Panzer Strike in 2017. "We conducted live firing and got to integrate with the German forces. It was quite an experience as it was one of the first exercises where I interacted with a foreign professional Army."

"We cross-shared our knowledge of the Leopard tanks and how we operate," said CPT Tang, who is now the Officer Commanding of the 1st Company in 48th Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment (48 SAR).

Most recently, he took part in Exercise Wallaby and Exercise Safkar Indopura last year.

CPT Tang (left) with Deputy Chief of Staff (WAKASAD) Lieutenant General (LG) Agus Subiyanto, from the Indonesian Army during the bilateral Exercise Safkar Indopura in 2023.

3.  He has taken part in NDP twice

Though CPT Tang is proud to make his National Day Parade (NDP) debut as a flag ensign representing his unit in 2017, his stint in the NDP Celebration Outreach committee in 2019 is also something he holds dear.

The committee held a campaign, titled A Little More, where they took the elderly and people with special needs on a visit to Changi Jewel; and packed NDP packs with prison inmate volunteers.

"It's not the conventional NDP experience, like the parade you see on TV, but more 'back-end'," noted CPT Tang.

The NDP Celebration Outreach committee were hosted by former President Halimah Yacob at the Istana in 2019. [Photo courtesy of CPT Tang]

"The whole outreach really touched me. It was heart-warming to meet people from many walks of life, and it reminded me of the different people we also meet in the Army. Each has their own battle that they don't show.

"It reminds me to really show kindness to everyone."

Can't imagine CPT Tang as a fierce judo competitor? Catch him in action here:

Suggested Reading
Accidentally in love
Cover story
Accidentally in love

He proposed with a takeaway hotpot. She said "yes". This is the story of 3WO Emerald Lim and MSG Kumar, who went from "bros" to best friends to husband and wife.

A good serve Feature
A good serve

She used to serve on the volleyball court. Now, she's serving in the Air Force and loving it.

Athlete to airwoman Feature
Athlete to airwoman

From somersaulting and hitting marks on the floor to guiding fighter jets in locating and hitting their targets, this former national gymnast continues to soar as an airwoman.

Paddling against all odds Feature
Paddling against all odds

This Full-time National Serviceman (NSF) medic did not let circumstances get in his way of sporting success.

Soldier, sportsman, gymnast Feature
Soldier, sportsman, gymnast

National gymnast CPL Kaeson Lim won his first SEA Games medal during NS. Find out how he balanced both his sporting career and NS!

Commando, doctor & national hurdler Feature
Commando, doctor & national hurdler

This 27-year-old commando medical officer did Singapore proud by winning a silver medal in 110m hurdles at the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam in May – this was Singapore's first medal at the event since 1989.

Top NSF & national paddler
Cover story
Top NSF & national paddler

Platoon Sergeant with a heart Feature
Platoon Sergeant with a heart

1SG (NS) Ralph Lim, who heads food charity Mummy Yummy, hopes to inspire more people to step up and help those in need.

Senior Warrant Officer graduates from GKS CSC at 48
Senior Warrant Officer graduates from GKS CSC at 48

Imagine going back to school at the ripe old age of 47 – and studying side-by-side with your teenage kids!