Sailor Cheng's long shot at Olympic glory
Tricky Rio venue could even things for contenders, says Laser sailor
The Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro is picturesque, with the famous Christ the Redeemer statue casting its shadow on the oceanic bay.
But the body of water, which will host the 2016 Olympic sailing events in August, is a "tricky" venue, says Singaporean Colin Cheng, who finished 22nd in an Olympic test event there last August.
However, it is the tricky nature of the competition venue, along with an even field of strong competitors this year and his own progress, that makes the 26-year-old Laser sailor feel he has an outside chance of winning a medal in his second Olympics.
"Rio is a very tricky venue - there is a lot of current and the conditions are difficult to read," said the 2012 Olympian yesterday at a media session at the National Sailing Centre.
"And one difference between the 2012 Games and this one is that Tom Slingsby was the hot favourite to win the gold in 2012 and he did it, whereas this time, it's very difficult to call who will be in the top three or five."
"The competition is wide open among the top-10 sailors, and I am knocking on that door. I hope to be in the mix for the top 10, and possibly even the top five," added the Laser world No. 18, who attained his career-best ranking of 13th last December.
"A medal would be a long shot, but I hope I will knock on that door. At the same time, I did not do well at the test event last year, so I will be hoping to get that out of my mind and give a better showing this time."
Cheng was the best-placed Asian in his Olympic debut in Weymouth, England, where he finished 15th.
The former Laser 4.7 world champion has made good progress since then, winning the World Cup leg in Melbourne last December and finishing third in the Sail Auckland in February this year.
He also won the Europa Cup in April this year, although he finished 26th at the Laser Standard World Championship in Mexico last month.
Cheng and his long-time coach Brett Beyer have been working on the sailor's aggressiveness on water in the past few weeks, and that would be a focus in the coming weeks as well.
"My coach thinks that safe sailing is my nature. I try not to take risks because sometimes you have the potential to make big gains, but also big losses," said Cheng, who arrived from Sydney on Tuesday and leaves today for Rio for a two-week training trip.
"He is trying to make me more tactically committed, to back my decisions more.
"I am aware of race-winning tactics and I know the theory behind it, but I am just trying to execute them and be more committed to sticking to them."