Vincent Ang upbeat despite training with borrowed bike
His racing bicycle may have been crushed by a car a week ago, but it is business as usual for Vincent Ang and the rest of the Republic's cycling men, who are ramping up preparations in a bid for a first road-race medal at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games.
Ang has received several offers of help after his bicycle was run over by a car on March 4 (see inset) in what is a tremendous show of support ahead of the first Games to be hosted here since 1993.
And he is keeping his head in the game, despite the less-than-ideal situation.
The 28th SEA Games is from June 5 to 16 and cycling will be held at Marina Bay South featuring six events - the Individual Time Trial (men and women), Criterium (men and women) and the Mass Start Road Race (men and women).
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Ang said: "I'm now using a borrowed bike that is the same brand as my sponsor but it is very small and not suited for me.
"I can't train at the same intensity, but I think three months are enough for me to get back to my peak."
Ang was speaking on the sidelines of a visit by Singapore's co-chefs de mission Dr Tan Eng Liang and Nicholas Fang, who were checking on the progress of the cycling team.
"A lot of people have offered me bikes (after the incident occurred), but I am waiting for my sponsor to get me another one just like the one that was damaged," added the 38-year-old, referring to his preferred bicycle, the Infinite Prime Team, which costs around $10,000, including custom fittings.
"It will take about two weeks, but I don't want to fly up to Thailand (to hasten the process) because that will mean that I will waste a day of riding.
"I just appreciate the fact that the first thing my sponsor did was to ask about my well-being, not about the bike that was damaged."
In late January, the Singapore National Olympic Council released an initial list of more than 900 nominations for the 2015 Games and, while that number will be whittled down, the hosts will field their biggest contingent in the history of the biennial event.
There are eight slots for the SEA Games cycling squad and only two have been provisionally selected for the women's events.
Dinah Chan, who became the first Singaporean to win cycling gold since the 1997 Games when she claimed the women's 30km time trial in Myanmar in 2013, and Serene Lee are favourites to represent the nation in the two women's categories.
Another 11 athletes are still vying for six spots in the men's races, including Noel Teh, Low Ji Wen and Ang.
The cycling team will be confirmed by March 31, with Teh revealing that the two CDMs were confident the cyclists would turn in a noteworthy performance in June.
"You can't expect us to get a gold overnight, but (the CDMs) told us that it's quite within our reach to get at least a bronze medal," said Teh, who along with teammate Low, are quietly confident that the cycling men may just be able to pull off something bigger.
"We always have to believe that we can pull off a surprise and maybe even win gold, because if we don't, we might as well not be at that start line to begin with," said Low.
"Then again, that is exactly what everyone is thinking, so I guess we'll find out in June."
The two CDMs have paid visits to more than 20 national sports associations already. They will continue to do so over the next few weeks, but Dr Tan asserted that Team Singapore are already good to go.
He said: "My sense is that we're doing good with our preparations... it's three months away, but we're prepared, we're ready to go."