16 September 2010

Singapore TID in speed skating

12 picked for China camp@Straits Times

IN HIS Winter Olympics dreams, Matthew Mak always saw himself as a figure skater.

The 13-year-old Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student is now a step closer to realising his dream of representing Singapore on ice - but as a speed skater instead.

He was one of 12 skaters who were selected yesterday to attend an eight-day International Skating Union (ISU) speed skating training camp in Changchun, China, from Sept 18-25.

The selection was made at the end of Singapore's first short track speed skating camp, which began on Sunday and ended last night.

The camp was organised by the Singapore Ice Skating Association (Sisa) and the ISU to identify the first batch of athletes with the potential of representing Singapore in the sport.

More than 80 participants - almost thrice the number that Sisa had expected - turned up on Sunday.

From there, 30 were chosen to stay for the remainder of the camp by coach Yves Nadeau, a renowned speed skating coach who has worked with world and Olympic champions.

Although Sisa had planned to select only the top three men and three women, the ISU decided in the end to extend the quota after being won over by the participants' enthusiasm.

Sisa president Sonja Chong said the additional numbers are a boost to its efforts to develop a Winter Olympian for the 2014 Sochi Games.

'It's an indication of the success of the programme, and hopefully we can build on this momentum,' she said.

Matthew and Co. made the final cut after impressing Nadeau with their ability to learn the various techniques quickly.

'I feel very lucky because I might not have made it if only six were selected,' he said. 'My hope is to qualify for the Winter Youth Olympic Games. That would be a good start. But my dream is to compete in the Winter Games.'

The other Changchun-bound athletes are Deanna See, 15, Anja Chong, 16, Vernetta Fong, 15, Yap Rong Xing, 22, Liang Qi'en, 19, Germaine Lim, 15, Lucas Ng, 21, Bertrand Chew, 19, Lim June Liang, 22, and brothers Kenneth, 17, and Terence Chew, 23.

Two participants - Condrey Liu, 24, and Kevin Tan, 34 - were also selected to attend the developmental camp as coaches. They will be joined by athletes from Malaysia and Thailand.

Deanna, who, like Matthew, has a figure skating background, said: 'It's been a whirlwind few weeks. A month ago, I heard about this camp, and now I'm going for it.'

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