Introduce yourself to our readers.
Hello!! My name is Kelly Latimer, pronounced Fatimah with an L and less of an ahhh at the end. If you are a sports fan, or have been following the SEA Games closely you might probably be sian of my face already because in the past 2 weeks you would have seen me on Okto everyday talking about the Games! Well, I hope that I was able to bring you as close as possible to your favourite athletes each evening.
By nature, I’m quite an outgoing person. I love being outdoors, in the sun and just doing things! I love meeting new people and finding out more about them – I guess that’s why I love to interview people.
Tell us about your background and a moment when you felt super Singaporean.
According to my IC, I’m Anglo Chinese. Basically, Eurasian. Dad is English, Mum is Singaporean Chinese. I moved here when I was 12, and never left. People always ask if I’d go back to the UK. I ask them, what for?! The weather is awful, the traffic is a nightmare and I don’t think I’d be where I am today if I were back in England. I did spend some time in Melbourne, Australia for university. But once I was done, I came straight home.
My most Singaporean quality is probably my kiasu-ness. I hate to lose out!! An example of me being kiasu is when I go shopping. I’d rather buy all the tops in different colours, just in case I change my mind. And I’m also quite an auntie. If I cook for people, I’ll make enough food for say… Eight people when only three were invited.
I think I felt most Singaporean during the opening ceremony rehearsal when the national anthem played at the new national stadium. I’ve never sang it so loud.
What does it feel like being a presenter? Having a taste of both arenas, how is TV different from a live event?
It all started at the 25th SEA Games in Laos in preparation for the Youth Olympic Games. Since then, I’ve been hooked on sports TV. Mark Richmond was the one who picked me up, trained me and gave me the essential skills of being a sports presenter. I could thank him a million times over for the opportunities he sent my way. Having done this for a few years now, it’s inspiring to see young presenters enter the field and now it is my turn to play the role of mentor to them.
I present the S League too but while we seldom pack out stadiums or get millions of viewers, the enthusiasm of the diehard fans is what spurs me on.
Presenting on TV is completely different from a live event. TV is draining, mainly because in some sense you have no energy to draw from. A live event, however, is a monstrous feedback loop. The crowd feeds you with their energy and enthusiasm and when you can connect with them, they feel it too and give it back.
How many times have you presented at the SEA Games? Are there any foreign athletes do you admire?
This was my second SEA games, the first being in Laos. It’s quite incredible to see everyone coming together! Watching the Opening Ceremony rehearsals made me sit back in awe at what can be achieved when our countries come together. I am so so proud to have been a part of this event, it’s hard to describe. I just wish more people would share my enthusiasm. The SEA Games was intense. A lot of athletes I met were truly excited and you could just feel the electricity in the air.
Dedeh Erawati, the Indonesian 100m hurdler, is one of the reasons I’m excited we’re hosting the games. Her enthusiasm is on par with mine, I reckon. I interviewed her for the Road to SEA Games series, and her passion for the sport and desire to win is truly commendable.
Any Singaporean athletes you admire? How do you spot a Singaporean athlete in a crowd?
I admire Saiyidah Aisyah the most. To be able to “disappoint the nation” and yet still plough straight back into action, hungry to prove the critics wrong and win us gold in rowing at the SEA games… It takes a lot of guts.
And… the Singaporean athlete is probably taking a selfie. 😀
After a 22-year long hiatus, the SEA games are being held in Singapore again. What are three must-do things in Singapore that you would recommend to our visitors?
You must see the new Singapore – and I feel that’s best presented at Gardens by the Bay. It’s beautiful, well thought out and sustainable. Singapore’s future is something you should take a look at too. The art science museum always has something refreshing and different on display and is always a little edgy, very forward. A look into our past is a must. Pulau Ubin is a walk down memory lane. It probably hasn’t changed much in the past 22 years, but it’s still a great place to reconnect with how we used to be.
What do you envision for Singapore’s sporting community?
During Singapore’s first SEA games football match against the Philippines when we won 1-0, my entire family sat around the TV shouting, cheering, laughing and scolding the TV screen – as if Aide could hear us. I watched in amusement as my mum and aunt jumped up and down, it was then that I realised this is what the games are about. It’s about bringing everyone together. When we do that, when we provide the audience for the athletes, they’ll play for us with all their heart. They’ll put on a show. I really want our Lions to succeed in the future and I know they do too. The SEA games is a great platform for us to showcase the talent we have available, and for me I believe I was able to bring the nation closer to the action…that is what keeps me going.
If you could rewrite the acronym for SEA to aptly describe the Games, what would it be?
Skilful, Enigmatic Athletes!
What’s the journey to the games been like for you and what are you looking forward to the most?
It’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions. With each athlete I’ve spoken to, I feel humbled by their stories, their hopes and dreams as well as their fears. They’re keen to show us what they can do, but that’s a lot of pressure on their shoulders.
The preparation in the lead up to the games has been a mental challenge for me, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The opportunity to be a part of such a huge event is almost once in a lifetime, and to embrace it as a wannabe-Singaporean…. is the icing on the cake.