A former Olympic and NCAA collegiate swimmer, Mark Chay has a very diverse resume in the world of international sport. The United States Sports Academy alumnus, Singapore Nominated Parliament Member, athlete, sports business owner, administrator, coach, and national committee chair recently added another prestigious title to his resume: president of the Singapore Swimming Association.
Chay was elected unopposed to the position in June. He now leads a 10-person executive committee that oversees aquatic sports in the island nation in Southeast Asia. In addition to this new role, Chay also speaks on sports issues as a Nominated Member of Parliament in the country. Singapore’s NMP program began in 1990 as a way to ensure a wide representation of views in Parliament. The sports “fraternity” is one of seven functional groups – from service organizations to educational institutions – invited to submit candidates to speak on the various issues related to each group. Chay plans to use his time as an NMP to speak on the role of sports in bringing the world back together amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chay was an Academic All-American while earning his bachelor’s degree in communications at Brigham Young University. He has also taken coursework toward his Master of Sports Science degree at the Academy. In addition to his work as the Chairman of the Singapore National Olympic Council Athletes’ Commission, Chay has worked with the Academy to find ways the institution’s post-secondary, non-degree sport education programs could benefit the nation of Singapore.
“I appreciate the Academy and what it has done to benefit sport education around the world,” Chay said. “I took some of the Academy’s courses and know that it is a world class program. The Academy views sports in the same way I do – as something that brings people together and can benefit the well-being of a nation.”
The Academy has also worked with Singapore’s International Management and Sports Academy, of which Chay served as chief executive officer, for nearly 20 years on sports education programs for the Southeast Asian nation. The Academy and IMSA have worked collaboratively to offer post-secondary non-degree programs including certifications and diplomas to prepare Singapore’s citizens for careers in sport-related fields. The relationship began in 2003 and has built an alumni base of more than 500.
“Sport brings society together,” Chay said. “No matter where you go in the world, if you put a soccer ball on the field, people will play. All around the world people play the same games with the same basic rules. Sport is like a universal language. I want to speak on how sport can be used to heal a world that has been hit so hard by the pandemic.
“Not only does sport help people with much needed physical conditioning and exercise, it also benefits their mental well-being. So many of the issues society faces due to COVID – isolation, anxiety, depression – can be helped by regularly playing sports and getting outside and exercising. That’s something we need to focus on, especially once pandemic restrictions begin to ease.”
After retiring from swimming, Chay worked in various leadership positions in the Singapore Swimming Association and the Singapore Hockey Federation. Chay’s swimming career yielded multiple SEA Games golds, a Sportsman of the Year award and outings to the Athens and Sydney Games. He also served as the chef de mission for Team Singapore at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and as Singapore’s chef de mission at the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics.