National diving coach wants divers to dream big
Singapore diving coach says belief and desire crucial to meet 'lofty goals'
It has almost been two months since Shannon Roy arrived in Singapore, after his appointment as the new head coach of the national diving team.
Yesterday, he made his first public appearance with several other coaches and athletes at Chevron House as the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) confirmed a three-year deal with official sports recovery partners, Phiten.
As part of the deal, SSA will receive support of $100,000 each year in cash and kind from the sports-health technology experts, who will also provide equipment like a hyperbaric chamber to aid the recovery of athletes across all four disciplines - diving, swimming, water polo and synchronised swimming.
Such facilities are invaluable to a coach like Roy, who is no stranger to competing at a high level, having won gold at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
The 39-year-old Aussie has promised "a lot of changes" as he looks to help Singapore diving take the next step following an impressive showing at last year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games, where the "home" divers claimed seven medals to finish second only behind powerhouses Malaysia.
"There's a lot of talent here, more than I had anticipated," said the affable Roy.
"I think the challenge is getting them to believe they are actually that talented and to acknowledge they can be as good as anyone in the world.
"If we set lofty goals and fight towards it, we have every chance as anyone else."
Self-belief was a recurring theme throughout his 10-minute session with the media, as he cited the example of Yona Knight-Wisdom, the 20-year-old who recently became the first Jamaican diver to win a medal at a World Cup and qualify for the Olympic Games.
Although the immediate target appears to be a repeat performance at the 2017 SEA Games in KL, Roy is adamant he will challenge his charges to set even loftier ambitions.
"At the last SEA Games here in Singapore, the divers did really well and it was like a breakthrough," he said.
"We're hoping to replicate, it not improve on that next time around.
"But we're also definitely setting targets with each Olympics that comes along.
"It (the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo) is four and a half years away so that's enough time to start getting exposure under our belt, thinking outside of Asia and about the European and American competitions.
"There's the 'Road to Rio' and I've termed my own 'Train to Tokyo… It's a pun on the word that we're going to have to train hard to get on that train.
"Tokyo is our No. 1 goal for now."
Roy hopes he would have left a big mark when his time in charge eventually comes to an end.
He explained: "I feel my job is to enhance what already exists quite well, to help it grow and flourish and leave a sustainable system in the future for both athletes and Singapore coaches.
"It would be a dream of mine, even though I'm a foreign coach, to leave a legacy here of a Singaporean national coach who takes diving to the next level."
Probably, with the older ones, we’re planning to go to Thanyapura in Phuket for two weeks. There will be a lot of school (competitions) at the OCBC Aquatic Centre during that time and we’re trying to get out to have consistent training and not move around. Afterwards, we’re probably going to compete at the Indianapolis Grand Prix in the first week of June and, from there, the whole Olympic group will stay together training towards Rio.
— National coach Sergio Lopez, on the swim team’s preparations working towards the Rio Olympics in August