Olympian Cheng eyes two golds on SEA Games debut
He is an Olympian, an Asian Games gold medallist, and the best male Laser Standard sailor in Asia, according to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).
But, curiously, the June 5 to 16 South-east Asia (SEA) Games will be Colin Cheng's first-ever outing at the biennial multi-sport event.
Speaking to The New Paper at the National Sailing Centre yesterday, the 25-year-old said: "Things just never seemed to line up for me in the past.
"I had school commitments and other international competitions that clashed with the Games, and sailing was also excluded from the 2009 Laos Games, so I never really got to participate over the years.
"But ultimately, the managers and coaches work together with me to decide on what events I should go for, and it's usually the bigger international regattas so that I can test my mettle against the very best."
Cheng will be participating in two events next month - the single-handed Laser Standard and Team Racing Dinghy Laser Standard.
The nanotechnology undergraduate from Australia's University of New South Wales has three Asian Games medals - gold at Doha 2006, silver at Guangzhou 2010 and bronze at Incheon 2014.
In addition, Cheng is currently ranked 23rd on ISAF's list of the best laser sailors in the world - the highest among Asians - and will be the man to beat once he hits the water.
But it is the Team Racing event that will likely test him, as he has not competed in such an event in over 10 years.
Despite that, he is confident, saying: "The Laser is part of the natural progression from the Optimist, which was the class I sailed in the last time I competed in a Team Racing event.
"But I am confident, without a doubt. I'm pretty sure we'll do well, and this event will only help to maximise our chances for yet another gold medal."
Cheng was the first Singaporean sailor to seal a spot at 2016's Rio Olympic Games, after finishing 27th out of 147 sailors at last September's Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Spain.
He will compete in the men's Laser-One Person Dinghy event, and it will be his second consecutive Olympics after London 2012, where he finished 15th in the Laser.
But he has his eyes firmly on the immediate target - a sweep of two golds out of two events at the SEA Games.
"I might be an Olympian and Asiad medallist, but I know how huge the SEA Games is in Singapore," said Cheng.
"It outshines even the Asian and Olympic Games because it's on our shores.
"So that's why I want it to be a memorable first Games for me by winning two out of two. I think it's achievable. I'm pretty confident.
"The SEA Games is very much a chance for me to get as much genuinely competitive sailing as possible, so I want to make it count in front of our fellow Singaporeans."
19 days to go
19: Dunman Secondary School is proud to be part of the countdown for the 28th SEA Games.
The school chose the number 19 as there were many important milestones that took place in modern Singapore in the years of 1900 and beyond towards creating a sporting culture.
Singapore's first Olympic medal was won by weightlifter Tan Howe Liang in Rome in 1960.
The first-ever Peska Sukan, also known as Festival of Sports, was introduced in 1964.
Post independence in 1965, sports was seen as a useful vehicle for ethnic integration.
The National Fitness Exercise (NFX) was introduced to encourage physical fitness among Singaporeans.
The Singapore Sports Council was formed in 1973 and subsequently the Master Plan on Sports Facilities was implemented from 1976.
In the 1980s, an increasing attention was focused on the pursuit of Sports Excellence. To foster a fit and healthy nation, the Sports For Life programme was also rolled out in 1996.
In the formation, students have attempted to plant seedlings in plastic bottles, which are then arranged and tied together to form the number 19.
"We would like to give away these handmade plants to the needy families to brighten up their day and decorate their homes with," said student Maadhuri Sooraj.
ST FILE PHOTO
19: While the official Games dates are from June 5 to 16, the football competition starts on May 29.
Singapore are drawn into Group A, along with Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines.
The Young Lions (above) will kick off their campaign against the Philippines on June 1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
- DAVID LEE