Singapore youngsters chase glory at Glasgow Games
Debutants Schooling, Chew and Veloso ready for glory quest
They are still not out of their teens and have not yet tasted the unique atmosphere of a Commonwealth Games.
But 14-year-old shooter Martina Veloso, 18-year-old paddler Clarence Chew and swimming star Joseph Schooling, 19, have already achieved much in their respective fields, and are expected to make a splash for Singapore in Glasgow.
The 2014 Games, which will open tomorrow morning (Singapore time), are not just for the three debutants to gain experience competing in a world-class environment; they have a proven track record that suggests they are genuine medal hopefuls.
In Schooling's instance, it is a chance to create history by becoming the first Singaporean to win a Commonwealth Games swimming medal.
The young trio of Team Singapore athletes have been building for the occasion for some time, and few will envy the kind of pressure they are under.
Not University of Texas undergraduate Schooling, though.
"That would be pretty sick," said the butterfly sprint specialist with a laugh, when The New Paper reminded him of the possibility he could make history in Scotland.
"But I'm not really feeling the pressure from other people. I care only about the pressure and expectations I put on myself and that's enough.
"I'm not thinking of medals at the moment. I'm just thinking about getting that first race in."
Schooling, who won six golds at last year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar, will swim in five events in Glasgow.
"I'm excited over the 50m fly and it's a race I haven't competed in at a high level before," he said. "I'm excited for my pet event, the 200m fly, too, but I'm taking it one race at a time."
Another young Singaporean athlete who can look forward to multiple events is Chew, who will be involved in the table tennis men's team and mixed doubles events.
The Republic Polytechnic student demonstrated his appetite for the big occasion by claiming some big-name scalps in the form of Hong Kong's Wang Chun Ting (then world No. 37) and Sweden's Per Gerell (then world No. 35) as the men's team finished joint-fifth at the World Championships in May.
His feats mean he is no longer an unknown quantity, but a paddler whom opponents will devote time and effort to analyse for strengths and weaknesses.
"I'm expecting strong competition at the Commonwealth Games from England, India and Canada," Chew said.
"After the World Champs, my confidence has definitely increased. My preparations have been going on well, and I know if I continue to play with fighting spirit and without fear, and play to my best, I can match them."
While Schooling is a model of media savvy, and the relatively shy Chew is getting there, it's different strokes for different folks.
Quite understandably, the Singapore Sports School is keen to protect the interests of younger athletes like International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup winner Martina, who has been instructed not to field any interviews until the 10m air rifle event is over.
Low Teo Ping, Singapore's chef-de-mission at the Commonwealth Games, is all for getting the young athletes to remained focused on the very task they are in Glasgow for - to perform well in their sport.
The 69-year-old, who has suggested a "handphone amnesty" initiative, said: "Our biggest challenge is to deal with distractions, one of which is their handphones.
"I leave it up to the respective team managers to handle this but I have suggested something called 'handphone amnesty'.
"Rather than banning the use of handphones totally, athletes can volunteer on their own to do so. It's something I introduced when I was in the sailing association and it worked tremendously well as the sailors understood why this was necessary."
Team Singapore have 70 athletes at this year's Commonwealth Games and Low has predicted they will at least match, if not surpass the haul from the Delhi Games in 2010, when the Republic returned with 11 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze medals.
Singapore's male and female table tennis stars are aiming for a sweep of all seven events and the shooters also will be counted on for gold medals.
Low says there is no need to revise his target, and added: "I shared with some of the athletes from the Singapore Sports School earlier - chase your dreams, wake up, don't go back to sleep. Be very focused and be committed to your cause.
"The youngsters are taking these Games as a chance to excel and know what international competition is all about, and it will put them in good stead.
"Expectations are all right, but the athletes, young as they may be, must have the winning mentality. Otherwise, they are not doing justice to their selection."
School: University of Texas
Events: 50m, 100m, 200m butterfly; 200m freestyle; 200m individual medley
2013 Myanmar SEA Games: 100m and 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays, and 4x100m medley relay* - Gold
2013 Fina World Championships: 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley - semi-finals
*pending ratification by SEA Games Federation after Indonesia won the race with a ineligible swimmer
School: Republic Polytechnic
Events: Men's team, mixed doubles (with Isabelle Li)
2014 World Team Table Tennis Championships: 5th (team)
2013 Myanmar SEA Games: Gold (team); bronze (singles)
2013 Asian Championships: Fifth (team)
2013 Commonwealth Championships: Gold (team)
School: Singapore Sports School
Event: 10m air rifle
2014 ISSF Munich World Cup: Gold
2014 Asian Airgun: Gold
2013 Asian Youth Games: Bronze
2013 International Junior: Gold
10 to watch in Glasgow
The towering Jamaican is the arguably the biggest name in world sport and his presence in Glasgow, albeit solely in the 4x100m relay, is a huge boost. The 27-year-old six-time Olympic gold medallist and double sprint world record holder ensures that the world media's attention will be focused on Scotland.
The 800m world-record holder has made an long-awaited return from injury, clocking the world's fastest two-lap this season in Glasgow earlier this month. It was Rudisha's first race since he stormed to his gold medal, in world record time, at the 2012 London Olympics, covering 800m in just over 101 seconds.
Somali-born Farah stormed to British acclaim when he won both the 5,000m and 10,000m at the London Olympics, becoming one of the "local" faces that helped set the Games out as one of the most successful ever. He went on to win the double at the Moscow world meet last year.
The Australian is rumoured to be going for a double in Glasgow, in the 100m hurdles and also the 100m. Coming back from injury, the 27-year-old has struggled this season, but will be wanting to better her outing over 100m in New Delhi four years ago, where she was stripped of the title for a dubious false-start on appeal.
New Zealand (Rugby sevens)
The 31-year-old has been with the all-conquering New Zealand rugby sevens team since 2006. The shaven-headed flanker is a stalwart of Gordon Tietjen's squad that have won all four Commonwealth Games titles and dominated the IRB world circuit.
Adams won the first Olympic women's boxing gold medal at the London Games in 2012. She started boxing at the age of 12 and had her first bout a year later. In 2007, she was the first English female to earn a medal in a major tournament when she won silver in the European Championships.
The 26-year-old Coutts has won 21 medals for Australia in major championships over the past four years. That haul included five medals (one gold) at the 2012 Olympics. At the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, she was the most decorated swimmer with five golds.
The 30-year-old seven-time world champion and world No. 1 completed her collection of major titles with Commonwealth Games gold in Delhi. In Glasgow, David will also be out to win Malaysia's first medal in the women's doubles with Low Wee Wern.
Meares, defending her 500m time trial and individual sprint titles in Glasgow, will equal fellow cyclist Kathy Watt's Australian record of competing at four Commonwealth Games. Meares, 30, is also a four-time world champion in the time trial and two-time Olympic gold medallist.
The 34-year-old Wiggins made history in 2012 when he became the first British rider to win the Tour de France before going on to take the gold medal in the Olympics time trial. He also had three track gold in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Was subsequently knighted for his services to the sport.