He builds robot based on Hollywood star

HARD WORK: Product and graphic designer Ricky Ma with Mark 1, a lifesized robot he built from scratch.

Like innumerable children with imagination fired by animated films, Hong Kong product and graphic designer Ricky Ma grew up watching cartoons featuring the adventures of robots and dreamed of building his own one day.

But unlike most of the others, Mr Ma has realised his childhood fantasy at the age of 42 - by successfully constructing a life-sized robot from scratch on the balcony of his home, Reuters reported.

The fruits of his labour of a year-and-a-half project, with a budget of more than HK$50,000 (S$8,700), is a female robot prototype that he calls Mark 1.

The robot, modelled after a Hollywood star whose name Mr Ma wants to keep under wraps, responds to a set of programmed verbal commands spoken into a microphone.

HARD WORK: Product and graphic designer Ricky Ma with Mark 1, a lifesized robot he built from scratch. PHOTO: REUTERS

"I figured I should just do it when the timing is right and realise my dream.

"If I realise my dream, I will have no regrets in life," says Mr Ma, who had to learn about fields completely new to him before he could build the complex gadget.

Aside from being able to perform simple movements of its arms and legs, turn its head and bow, the robot can create detailed facial expressions.

It has dark blonde hair and liquid eyes and wears a grey skirt and cropped top.

In response to the compliment "Mark 1, you are so beautiful", the robot's eyebrows and muscles around its eyes relax.

The corners of its lips lift, creating a seemingly natural smile, and it says: "Hehe, thank you."

A 3D-printed skeleton lies beneath Mark 1's silicone skin, wrapping its mechanical and electronic parts.

About 70 per cent of its body was created using 3D printing technology.

Mr Ma, who believes the importance of robots will only grow, hopes an investor will buy his prototype to give him the capital to build more.

He also wants to write a book about his experience to help other enthusiasts.



Albirex renew ties with Yuhua CSC

PARTNERS: MCCY Minister and Yuhua MP Grace Fu (in red) watches on as Yuhua Community Sports Club chairman Lim Chock Sing (left) and Albirex Niigata Football Club (Singapore) chairman Daisuke Korenaga (far left) sign their fourth Memorandum of Understanding yesterday.

PARTNERS: MCCY Minister and Yuhua MP Grace Fu (in red) watches on as Yuhua Community Sports Club chairman Lim Chock Sing (left) and Albirex Niigata Football Club (Singapore) chairman Daisuke Korenaga (far left) sign their fourth Memorandum of Understanding yesterday. PHOTO COURTESY OF LEO SHENGWEI

Yuhua Community Sports Club and Albirex Niigata Football Club (Singapore) yesterday reaffirmed their commitment to connect with their community yesterday.

Their fourth Memorandum of Understanding was signed in the presence of Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Yuhua Member of Parliament Grace Fu.

In 2013, the White Swans pledged to donate $1 to Yuhua CSC for every fan who attended their home games at Jurong East Stadium.

From last season's games, they will contribute a record $19,499, taking their four-year total to $56,280.

The Yuhua Albirex Football Academy was also formed to provide children a platform to develop not only technical skills but also life values through football, and will continue for another 24 sessions this year. 

Albirex return to top of S.League

Albirex end goal drought as Hougang coach blames loss on new synthetic pitch

END OF DUCK: Albirex Niigata centre back Atsushi Shirota breaks his team's 334-minute goal drought by scoring the opener in the 2-0 win over Hougang United.

(Atsushi Shirota 49, Tatsuro Inui 87)


Albirex Niigata answered their critics in the best possible way by posting a solid, if unspectacular, 2-0 win over overnight league leaders Hougang United last night to take over the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League summit themselves.

The White Swans were on a 334-minute goal drought before centre back Atsushi Shirota struck in the 49th minute and Albirex coach Naoki Naruo took this victory as a sign of his team's resurgence.

He said: "Scoring goals is of utmost importance to us and so we have to improve on creating chances and putting them away.

"If we can continue improving on this win, against an Hougang team who were top and are hard to beat, we have a good chance of winning the league."

It was an unremarkable first half in front of 2,384 fans at the Jurong East Stadium as both teams struggled to adapt to the new synthetic pitch that made it difficult for players to run and judge how the bounce affected the ball.

In first-half added time, Hougang right back Nazrul Ahmad Nazari turned on the afterburners, beat Albirex centre back Kento Fujihara to the ball, pushed it past goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa but failed to net from an acute angle.

But the game exploded into life just four minutes into the second half when Shirota rose unmarked to nod in Kento Nagasaki's free-kick.

The visitors' frustrations showed as Fairoz Hasan, Yusiskandar Yusop, Faiz Salleh and Jozef Kaplan were booked in quick succession for some crude challenges.


Hougang forward Iqbal Hussain injected some attacking quality minutes after coming on as a 61st-minute substitute for Fairoz, linking up well with Nazrul, whose right-wing cross was headed just wide by his skipper Kaplan.

The Cheetahs were made to pay for their profligacy when Wahyudi Wahid was caught in possession, allowing Albirex sub Tatsuro Inui to curl past Khairulhin Khalid three minutes from time.

Hougang coach K Balagumaran was downcast after the defeat even though his team should remain in the top three at the end of this week.

He blamed the new pitch, as the abundance of black rubber pellets made it difficult to play a passing game.

"I'm disappointed with the state of the pitch because there were so many rubber pellets and I had to change tactics to play a long-ball game, which is not how I like my teams to play," said Balagumaran.

"But, if I persisted with short passing and build-up on this pitch, we might have lost by a bigger margin.

"Our football pitches have to improve if we want to raise our standard. Even at our home stadium, our field is so hard, it's hurting our players' knees and ankles.

"The positive thing is we are still in the top three. I have to motivate our players to bounce back from this defeat and find solutions to overcome the difficulties we face."

Nazrul Ahmad Nazari (Hougang United)

Chikka, Lin at the perch

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Warriors' home run stops at 54

Thomas catches fire in second half to lead Celtics in scoring for 15th straight game

LATE SURGE: Boston guard Isaiah Thomas (in green) scores all his 22 points in the second half.
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British sailor dies during yacht race

A sailor has died after being swept into the ocean while competing in the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race - the second Briton to die aboard the same boat during this edition of the race.

Sarah Young, 40, a company owner from London, was washed into the sea by a wave as she tended to the mainsail aboard the IchorCoal yacht and was swept away in strong winds. Her death comes six months after that of Andrew Ashman, 49, who was killed on the same vessel after being knocked unconscious while sailing off the Portuguese coast.

Young, who was not tethered to the yacht, died in the mid-north Pacific at around 1.44pm (UK time) on Friday, as the boat sailed from China to Seattle, in America. She was recovered from the sea, after being washed overboard, by crewmates who tried to resuscitate her but she never regained consciousness, a race spokesman said.

The cause of death is yet to be confirmed, but is thought to be drowning or exposure. All other crew members are safe and well. - PA Sport.

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Sailing duo eye top-10 finish in Rio

Nacra 17 pair Justin and Denise believe they can go far in Rio after earning Olympic nod from SSF

TARGET: Justin Liu and Denise Lim, now ranked 27th, aim to break into the top 10 by the Olympics in August.

When sailor Justin Liu and his partner Denise Lim were in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, earlier this year for a regatta, he marvelled at the famous sight of the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking the Guanabara Bay.

The Singaporean pair, both 24, will be back in the South American nation come August, after the Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) confirmed its nomination of the duo in the Nacra 17 class for the Rio Olympic Games.

The pair, who are also dating, finished 20th in the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Regatta in Spain yesterday, which was one of the two events earmarked by the SSF for internal selections for that boat class.

The other event was the Nacra 17 World Championship in Florida in the United States in February, when they finished 29th.

Also, the women's 49er FX pair of Griselda Khng and Sara Tan beat Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low and secured their Olympic nomination yesterday after finishing 11th in Spain.

The two Singapore pairs now join windsurfer Leonard Ong (men's RS:X) in the Republic's Olympic sailing team, with spots in the Laser, Laser Radial and women's 470 to be confirmed.

While Lim and Liu were the only pair gunning for Olympic nomination in their class, they still had to perform to SSF's internal standards at the two selection events to secure their ticket.

Liu said: "We were more focused on improving ourselves and getting ready for Rio in this regatta, than seeing it as a selection trial.

"We are both very happy with the confirmation of our nomination... it's a culmination of all the hard work our team - Denise and I, as well as our coach Toni (Rivas) - have put in.

"It is just amazing that we have managed to do what we have done so far."

The seeds of their Olympic dream were planted after they failed to qualify for 2014 Asian Games.

In the 15-month journey leading up to their victory at the Isaf World Cup event in Qingdao last September, the pair have had to sleep in cars in Europe, and spent virtually all their savings, with the SSF providing some funding and the $24,080 boat they sail in.

Since their qualification last year, Liu and Lim have since joined the SSF's training squad, and have spent months away from Singapore, training and competing in Europe, the US and South America.


Liu said: "We have improved a lot sailing full-time in the past six months, with a full-time coach in Toni. We are really looking forward to continuing this hard work and growth towards the Olympics."

Their Isaf world ranking in the multi-hull event, which is making its debut in the Rio Olympics, is now 27th, a vast improvement from the 108th placing in July 2014.

But the Singaporean pair are aiming big - they want to break into the top 10 by the Olympics, which Liu reckons would even give them a shot at a medal.

He said: "In our class of boats, anything can happen at the Games but, realistically, anyone within the top 10 has a chance to win a medal.

"In the next few months, we'd be trying to close the gap with the top contenders. We have been closing the gap in the past months and they still have a slight edge over us in terms of speed and technique in the boat."

Training and competition beckon for Liu and Lim in the coming months, before they move to Rio late next month or early June for their final preparations for Rio.

Liu said: "The real moment, where everything will sink in, is when we reach the Games Village (during the Olympics).

"That is when the magic will begin."