Singaporean official Stanley Yeo scales the summit of sport climbing
Despite not excelling in sport climbing, Singaporean rises to be the sport's jury president for Olympics
By his own admission, climbing enthusiast Stanley Yeo pivoted to scaling the heights of sport climbing officialdom "by not being good in climbing".
The 42-year-old is one of several Singaporean officials across 11 sports who are involved in the Tokyo Olympics.
Yeo, a climbing coach and instructor who used to work in advertising, is jury president in the sport climbing competition, which is making its Olympic debut.
Explaining his role in Tokyo, he told The New Paper: "The jury president's role in sport climbing is (to be) the overall authority within the field of play.
"So he oversees all aspects during the running of the competition to ensure there are no hiccups."
While the jury president is not directly involved in the judging process, he or she will become an adjudicator, along with the technical delegate, if there are any appeals on points scoring.
Since his 2019 appointment for the Tokyo Games, Yeo has scaled further up the ranks of officialdom, having been made one of only five technical delegates in the world.
He is the sole Asian, with the other four hailing from Europe.
It is quite the ascent for Yeo, who picked up climbing in 1999 after joining Temasek Polytechnic's Adventure Club.
In 2004, he began transitioning to becoming a climbing official, with his first event being the 2007 Asian Indoor Games in Macau.
When asked how he became an official, Yeo said with a laugh: "By being not good in climbing...
"Back then, we used to have some local competitions... I guess I wasn't as good as most of my peers, I usually didn't finish in the top eight...
"While I still enjoy climbing, what really caught (my interest) was the organising of competitions.
"I'm a very curious person and I asked myself, 'how come competitions are organised this way, how come athletes are judged this way?'
"When I graduated, I still went back to help out in competitions and I was also learning informally from some veteran judges in Singapore.
"So that's how things actually started."
The governing body, the International Federation of Sport Climbing, was formed in January 2007. When Yeo was officiating in Macau at the end of that year, he was confident that climbing would become an Olympic sport.
He said: "When we were there, we were always telling ourselves, 'hey, we are here now. The Olympics are a possibility...
"So, we were really confident and we were all just trying to get ready for the day when we were being called up... to the Olympics. There was never a doubt about it."
He opines that the nature of the sport - which involves meticulous planning of climbing routes, execution of those plans and adaptation on the fly if they don't work out - explains its quick ascent to the pantheon of Olympic sports.
For the Tokyo Games, the sport's governing body managed to combine sport climbing's three disciplines - lead, speed and bouldering - to a single category.
At Paris 2024, there will be more medals on offer with speed climbing becoming a standalone event.
Said Yeo: "We are still delivering the same competition, just that now it is at the pinnacle (of sports competitions)...
"This is not the end of the book, but rather, the start of a new chapter.
"So, there is actually more work to be done by everybody, because now we are in the public eye... and we have to make sure it becomes one of the main sports at the Olympics and Youth Olympics."
While CNA previously reported that three Singaporean officials had pulled out of Tokyo 2020 due to Covid-19 concerns, Yeo said he had no such qualms.
"Honestly, I never really gave it a thought. My more immediate concern was whether the Olympics would continue... Perhaps we need to look at how to coexist with the virus for now," said the father of two.