16 January 2011

Singapore Olympic Pathway Programme for Rio 2016

Search for Olympic stars begins@straits times

The search to identify athletes for Singapore's 2016 Olympic quest - for which a bold target of six medals has been set - has begun in earnest.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Community Development, Youth and Sports) Teo Ser Luck recently met up with officials from several major national sports associations (NSAs) to encourage them to send in names of athletes with the potential for glory in Rio de Janeiro.

Once approved, they will be included in the Olympic Pathway Programme (OPP), which provides high-level training and support for Olympic hopefuls.

The sports earmarked for 2016 include swimming, table tennis, fencing, sailing and shooting, and Mr Teo hopes to form a base of about 15 athletes.

Some names that have been touted are sailors Justin Liu and Sherman Cheng, world champions in the non-Olympic 420 class and who will progress to the Olympic 470 class this year, and Youth Olympic Games silver medallist paddler Isabelle Li, and her team-mates Pang Xue Jie and Clarence Chew.

Mr Teo, who oversees the OPP steering committee, said yesterday: 'I must stress that the criteria for 2016 are very different - athletes need not show medal potential now.

'When the OPP started in 2009, we had a short time to prepare for the 2012 Olympics, so we targeted athletes with proven track records.

'But now there's a longer time-frame, and I can understand if the athletes have not proven themselves in a big way yet.'

This marks the first time that there is a concerted effort to prepare Singapore athletes beyond a single Olympic cycle of four years, which is similar to what top sporting countries like Australia have been doing.

Said SingaporeSailing president Benedict Tan: 'The forward planning for the 2016 Olympic cycle synchronises with our plans.

'Our major challenge is the gap between the youth and Olympic levels. OPP's plan to identify talent early will help to bridge that gap.'

For next year's London Olympics, paddlers Feng Tianwei, Wang Yuegu, Sun Beibei and Yu Mengyu, swimmer Tao Li and shooter Jasmine Ser are under the OPP.

A war-chest of $6.3 million has been set aside for them, which translates to about $1 million for each over the four-year Olympic cycle. This is over and above what the athletes' NSAs get in annual Government grants.

The OPP budget for 2016 has yet to be decided. But with more athletes, there is concern there will be less money to go around.

Allaying these concerns, Mr Teo said: 'Because training is over a longer period than the 2012 Olympics, the total figure might be higher.'

Fencing Singapore, which recently started an Olympic programme for top athletes such as last year's Asian Championships bronze-medal winning women's foil team, is keen to follow up on Mr Teo's call.

Said its president Nicholas Fang: 'We'll target for more world-class events with Olympic ranking points.

'When the time is right, we will apply to be in the OPP.'

1 comment:

Remco Tevreden said...

Hi, I was in Singapore during the Youth Olympics, which I enjoyed very much!

Good luck with the pathway to Rio, and I hope to meet you there!

Remco Tevreden