Singapore sailor Cheng aims high for Olympics
Singapore Laser star aims to be among the big boys in Rio
At the junior level of international sailing, the Republic has enjoyed many triumphs, with Singapore's boys and girls returning home with a boatload of treasure over the years.
But it has not translated into wins at the senior level around the world.
Singapore's Laser Standard sailor Colin Cheng (above) is vying to crack open that ceiling.
"I think I have helped dispel some of that notion (that Asians can't compete at the highest level) and I am happy with how far I have come," said Cheng, in an interview with The New Paper.
The 26-year-old finished 15th in the Laser at the London 2012 Olympics - the highest finish in the class among Asians - and left for Rio on Sunday for his second Games.
"My results have come a long way since London 2012, in world championships and European circuit events, but as I start to rise up the rankings it gets harder and harder.
"All the best sailors are giving it their best shot."
Since the last Olympics, the former Laser 4.7 world champion has made good progress, 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, although he finished 26th at the Laser Standard World Championship in Mexico in May.
Meanwhile, South Korea's Jeemin Ha has made "major inroads", finishing second in the European Championships earlier this year, suggesting that the Olympic challenge has become even tougher with the wider pool of top-class talent.
"I think there's still a long way to go; I finished 15th the last Olympics, which was the best for an Asian, but 15th is nothing to shout about in the big picture," the University of New South Wales student mused.
"I think top-10 will be a good result and top five would be fantastic. We've got a pretty good opportunity to try to do that."
While Cheng was focused on getting more boat speed and polishing his technique ahead of London 2012, he has been trying to be more "tactically committed" for the Rio Games, as he aims for a top-10 finish.
"My coach (Brett Beyer) thinks I am a 'safe' sailor by nature and I try not to take risks," he said.
"I am aware of race-winning tactics and know the theory behind them, but I have been trying to be more committed tactically."
He counts London 2012 as the highlight of his sailing career thus far, and is hoping to go one up in Rio.
He said: "It was Race 8 at the last Olympics and I was leading for most of the race and fighting against Tom Slingsby, the eventual gold medallist.
"I held him off until the last upwind and unfortunately let him slip by and finished behind him.
"That was a precious moment that I will never, ever forget.
"Hopefully, I can repeat some of those moments at the upcoming Games, with a different outcome at the end, of course."
- Name: Colin Cheng
- Date of birth: Sept 10, 1989
- Occupation: Undergraduate
- Previous Olympic experience: London 2012 (15th in Laser)
- Champion, Laser 4.7 World Championships 2006
- Gold, Asian Games 2006 (Laser 4.7)
- Silver, Asian Games 2010 (Laser)
- Bronze, Asian Games 2014 (Laser)
- Gold, South-east Asia Games 2015 (Laser)
SINGAPORE SAILING TEAM
- Colin Cheng (Laser), Elizabeth Yin (Laser Radial), Justin Liu and Denise Lim (Nacra 17), Jovina Choo and Amanda Ng (Women's 470), Griselda Khng and Sara Tan (49er FX), Leonard Ong (Men's RS:X), Audrey Yong (Women's RS:X)