Singapore's Steve Chew to be a synchronised swimming judge at Rio Olympics
Singaporean part of elite judging group for synchronised swimming
The Singapore synchronised swimming team are just starting to build a solid platform, after clinching two gold medals - their first - at last year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games at home.
In a boost to the sport's profile, one man is going to fly the Singapore flag high at the Rio Olympics in August.
Steve Chew, a Fina-listed 'A' judge - the highest of three levels - will be part of the 15-strong judging panel and will be one of three Asians: the other two are from China and Japan.
"I was surprised when I received news in January this year, but at the same time kind of expecting it, because they also selected me for the Fina World Championships last year," said the 53-year-old, in an interview earlier this week.
Chew, a general manager in charge of three shopping malls, started his journey as a judge in 2007, when he was approached by the Aquatic Performance Swim Club, where his daughter Geraldine learned synchronised swimming.
"When she just started learning the sport, I was just like any parent, sending and fetching her from practices," Chew said. "But at that time, the club approached me and asked if I could help in any way.
"At that time they were short of judges, so I attended a local course and then went overseas for judging courses and to judge competitions."
He became a Fina-listed 'G' - entry-level - judge in 2009, and rose to the 'A' ranks in 2013. Chew is the only 'A' judge in Singapore.
He has judged at the Commonwealth Games in India in 2010, the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, and last year's Fina World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
In preparation for Rio, Chew has presided over three competitions - in Japan, Indonesia, and Bangkok - since November last year.
He has also observed "live" feeds of competitions where he's not involved and tries to evaluate teams.
"This is what most judges would do; we look at the feed and try to compare our scores with the actual scores and see how much difference there is," he said.
Bias is minimised because the judges would have to justify their decisions after a performance is over to an evaluator, whose scores of the judges would go towards their promotion through the ranks.
Chew cannot wait for his first Olympic outing.
He said: "I am definitely very excited, only the top judges are selected. Although the team are not represented, I feel like I am representing Singapore and letting the world know about us, especially since we are slowly building our reputation after last year's SEA Games."