US-based cyclist Loo tipped for SEA Games success
Track cyclist Dana Loo hoping for personal bests and podium finish at SEA Games
Track cyclist Dana Joy Loo was only 10 months old when her father took up an educational research job in a university in Utah and moved the family to the United States.
She has since lived in three American states, developed a heavy accent and visits Singapore only once a year.
But the 20-year-old told The New Paper in a phone interview that she intends to keep her Singapore citizenship and return home one day.
She will show where her allegiance lies when she makes her SEA Games bow in Kuala Lumpur next month, representing the Republic in the women's sprint, team sprint and 500m time trial.
This will not be the first time that she's donned Singapore colours, though. The nutritional sciences undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin had represented the Republic at the Asian Cycling Championships in 2014 and 2015.
Loo, who started cycling at the age of 11 under the encouragement of her father Eddie, has also often featured in the US national junior and local races.
She is also the only Singaporean among nine cyclists in South Korea now for a 40-day, by-invitation-only training camp affiliated to Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), global cycling's governing body.
But, while the experience and overseas training opportunities have given her confidence to target podium finishes, she still gets the pre-race jitters.
"I'm actually getting anxious just thinking about it (the SEA Games)," she said. "But, I know my competitors (sprinters from Malaysia and Thailand) pretty well at this point because we've raced together many times.
"They've been training full-time for such a long time.
"Physically, they're also bigger and much stronger than me.
"But I have access to great coaching and a great community (at the track in Wisconsin) who have taught me so much.
"I'm aiming for personal bests since all my events are timed, and also, to beat some of my closest competitors and get on the podium."
Thanks to her father, she also has access to a velodrome, a purpose-built arena for track cycling.
"Without Dad, I probably wouldn't be riding a bike. He's been driving me to the velodrome track twice a week - and it's a two- to three-hour car ride each way," said Loo.
The Republic last struck gold in cycling at the biennial Games when Dinah Chan won the women's 30km time trial in 2013.
National track team coach Ang Kee Meng said that in a technical sport like track cycling, having training time in a velodrome makes a world of difference, and it is a luxury the rest of the squad do not have.
He said: "My expectations for Dana are podium positions for sure, in all her events.
"She's been training (with a velodrome) and has experiences in competitions on an Asian level, not just South-east Asia."