Singapore's first Winter Olympian Cheyenne Goh inspires youngsters
Singapore's first Winter Olympian finds aspiring skaters looking to emulate her
Less than two weeks ago, Cheyenne Goh became Singapore's first Winter Olympian when the short-track speed skater raced in the women's 1,500m event at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea.
It was "a huge honour to represent Singapore", said the 18-year-old when she visited The Rink at JCube to meet young aspiring skaters yesterday.
Her exploits have had a profound impact on an entire generation of skaters dreaming of following in her footsteps.
Take Trevor Tan, 15, and Zen Koh, 14, for instance.
The two boys, along with 15-year-old Piius Sng, will be participating in the World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Poland from Friday.
Singapore Sports School student Trevor, who holds the national men's Under-18 records in the short-track 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m events, said: "Cheyenne worked really hard leading to the Winter Olympics, and to see her efforts pay off really inspired me to work harder.
"My current goal is to qualify for the 2020 Youth Winter Olympics, so this World Juniors will be a stepping stone to gain more experience.
"The next World Juniors will be the qualifiers for the Youth Winter Olympics, so I'm going to work much harder to get there, hopefully."
Zen, meanwhile, hopes to learn from Goh's composure.
The West Spring Secondary School student said: "Even with all the world-class skaters around her at the Winter Olympics, Cheyenne still managed to stay calm and complete her race.
"That really inspired me, because I get so nervous even at national-level competitions."
Singapore Ice Skating Association (Sisa) president Sonja Chong believes Goh has given winter sports in Singapore a shot in the arm.
Chong said: "Many people probably thought that it was an impossible dream to get the Singapore flag to fly for the first time by 2018 at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
"But since Cheyenne has proven that it is possible, there's a lot of belief now among the younger skaters that it is indeed an achievable dream, and something they can aspire to."
At The Rink, annual registration is now twice that of when it opened in 2012, according to Augustine Ow, JCube's centre manager .
Chong added: "Our next big step to get more people into the sport is with the Sisa Learn-to-Skate programme, which we hope to offer to schools.
"We believe that it will create a sustainable base of skaters in Singapore, where we can hopefully find talents to represent us in the future."
When asked how she feels about young skaters now looking up to her, Goh was a picture of both pride and modesty.
She said: "It's an honour, really an honour, and I hope that they can be equally or more successful than me."
In Pyeongchang, Goh finished fifth out of six competitors in her heat with a time of 2min 36.971sec, five seconds short of her 2:31 personal best.
She has two major competitions lined up next - the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships (in Montreal, Canada) and the World Juniors, both taking place next month.
She finished 46th in both competitions last year, and hopes to achieve better results this time round.
But for now, she is still trying to get used to the attention.
She said: "It's (the attention) quite a new thing for me because I'm an awkward person, but it's not a bad thing.
"It's quite cool to have that support and I'm really thankful that there are so many people cheering for me."