(Singapore, 2 August 2017) – The Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) brought together sailing icons, such as Asian Games gold medallist and Olympian Dr Ben Tan and double Asian Games gold medallist Sherman Cheng, to mentor and support the Singapore Sailing Team (SST) as they head to the 29th South-East Asian (SEA) Games, Langkawi, Malaysia from 19-30 August 2017.
The qualifiers at the SST’s selection trials turned out to be a relatively young slate of sailors. This “upward mobility” is the result of a strong pipeline and opportunities created for challengers to unseat incumbents in open trials. Twenty-one sailors will compete in 14 events, with the average age of the sailors at 17-years-old. Thirteen sailors will be making their debut at the SEA Games.
In line with this year’s campaign theme “Making Waves Together”, sailing alumni, led by SSF President, Dr Ben Tan, introduced the 2017 SEA Games team by presenting the official sailing uniform to the sailors at Monti at the Fullerton Pavilion. Dr Ben Tan is also a four-time SEA Games champion and 1994 Asian Games gold medallist. Sailing trailblazers and champions from past major games provided valuable advice to the next generation, sharing their experiences and challenges.
SSF also took this opportunity to thank all the various supporters, who have made the sailors’ SEA Games journey possible. “Singapore’s sailing fraternity is fortunate to have an entrenched culture of giving back to the sport. Today’s sailors are supported by an extremely experienced team of volunteers, coaches, and administrators,” shared Dr Ben Tan. “Instead of disappearing from the scene, previous generations of sailors continue to offer their time and experience, in the hope that the next generation will achieve greater heights. The sailors know that all Singaporeans, both sailors or non-sailors, are behind them. They understand that this support is earned through their dedication and hard work.”
Elisa Yukie Yokoyama, gold medallist in 2015’s 420 class, has now progressed to the Olympic-level 470 class. “It is only natural to admire our sailing heroes. We are very glad that they are standing behind us steadfastly. Knowing that they had once overcome the challenges that we are now facing, motivates us in our SEA Games journey and beyond,” she said.
Cheryl Teo, crewing for Elisa Yukie Yokoyama in the 470 class and a SEA Games debutant, added “I am so blessed to have the support of my family and friends around me who have made this journey possible in one way or another.”
Ryan Lo, who will be competing in his second SEA Games, may only be 20, but he is aiming for a double gold in this year’s edition. “Balancing my NS duties and training has not been easy, but the Ministry of Defence has been very understanding in allowing me time off to train,” quipped the full-time national serviceman. “Winning for Singapore is a dream for me and I hope Singaporeans will share this dream with me at the SEA Games!” He will be representing Singapore in the Laser Standard individual event and the team racing event.
Thirteen-year-old Radiance Koh is the youngest athlete in the Team Singapore SEA Games 2017 contingent and she is excited to make her debut the start of a promising sailing career. For the secondary one student, this period of transition from primary to secondary school has been challenging, and she credits her teachers and classmates for their understanding and help in her studies. Her former Tao Nan School schoolmates and family had provided strong emotional support, through consistent encouragement to persevere.
“Nanyang Girls’ High School has a peer tutoring programme for Math and I can seek my teachers for consultation lessons. My classmates will keep my lesson notes and assignments for me when I am away for overseas regatta. They also work around my busy training schedule to complete group projects,” Radiance shared. “I am very honoured to be able to represent Singapore and hope everyone will support me too.”
The Singapore Sailing Team will feature 21 sailors at the SEA Games, with a mixture of new and returning national team sailors.
The Optimist category will be represented by Max Victor Teo and Radiance Koh in the boys and girls individual events respectively. They are joined by Finian Lee, Ron Koh and Muhammad Daniel Kei Bin M. Yazid, who will compete for the second time at the SEA Games in the team racing category.
Jodie Lai, the defending SEA Games and Asian Games Optimist girls champion, will graduate to the double handed youth class, the 420, partnering with Evangeline Tan. Their male team mates are Wong Riji and Koh Yi Nian, who won a silver medal in the Optimist team racing category two years ago.
Bernie Chin will be defending his Laser Radial title that he won on home soil two years ago. The 2014 Youth Olympic Games gold medallist will be facing stiff competition from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. He is also competing in the Laser Standard team racing category.
Taking the reins from Colin Cheng and stepping up to the senior ranks in the Laser Standard – an Olympic class – will be Ryan Lo, who won a silver medal in the Laser Standard team racing in 2015. Ryan had much success in the junior and youth classes, having won bronze at the 2010 Asian Games in the Optimist Class and finishing third at the World Sailing Youth World Championships in 2014. He hopes to follow Colin’s footsteps and make a breakthrough at the SEA Games as he sets his sights on the Olympics.
Similarly, Elisa Yukie Yokoyama and Cheryl Teo have set their sights on the Olympics. Helmed by Yukie, who is a multiple SEA Games gold medallist and 2012 Optimist World Champion, the pair will aim to make the SEA Games a springboard for their Olympic campaign in the 470 class.
Lim Han Ee, CEO of SSF, summed it up, “Citing a famous proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’. It takes a village to raise a champion; our sailing community has been working hard together to raise Singapore to new heights. We are privileged to have support from our sailing icons, as well as Singaporeans from all walks of life.”
He added: “As one team, we journey toward mastery of our craft, pushing the envelope of human potential and demonstrating excellence on the world-stage. Forging ahead, we aim to inspire Singaporeans and to bring pride to the Nation.”