Young quartet out to do Singapore proud at SEA Games
TNP profiles four young athletes who will be making their SEA Games debuts in Kuala Lumpur
The biennial SEA Games are often the first major milestone in a young local athlete's career.
The New Paper speaks to four fledgling athletes in Team Singapore about their hopes and aspirations, ahead of their baptism of fire in Kuala Lumpur from Aug 19-30.
Events: 1,500m freestyle, 400m individual medley
Glen Lim, 15, who started swimming at the age of five, is Team Singapore's youngest male swimmer, but he believes that won't stop him from making an impact.
The Secondary 3 student from Raffles Institution is one of the Republic's two representatives in the 1,500m freestyle.
He said: "I feel proud of myself because at this age, it's difficult to qualify for the SEA Games. I'm up against much stronger competitors and I'm not used to competing overseas.
"I feel the pressure but, with consistent training and hard work, I'm confident the SEA Games will turn out well for me."
Glen rewrote his national Under-14 record in the 1,500m freestyle, clocking 16min 36.38sec at the Singapore National Age-Group Swimming Championships (Senior) earlier this year.
He also owns the Under-14 records in the 400m and 800m freestyle, and is determined to achieve personal bests in KL.
He said: "My goal is to go below 16 minutes in the 1,500 free.
"To me, swimming is more than just about medals. It's easy to win a medal, but breaking a record leaves a mark."
Sport: Artistic gymnastics
Events: Team, floor exercise, uneven bar, balance beam, vault
Passion drives Mei Togawa, who took up gymnastics as a four-year-old after following her younger sister to a training session.
The Secondary 4 student, who was born in Japan, grew up in Singapore after arriving here as a 22 month-old toddler.
Mei, a beam specialist, trains five hours a day after school, but doesn't mind the long training sessions because of her passion for the sport.
"Since young, gymnastics has been the only sport I've focused on," the Nanyang Girls' High School student told TNP.
"I really enjoy it despite the long training hours and the risk of injury. I didn't really think about making the SEA Games.
"It's my first major tournament so I just want to compete to the best of my ability. I have the passion and drive for my sport and I'm honoured to be competing at the SEA Games.
"I can't control the scores, so I hope that this Games will be a learning experience for me."
At last month's Asean School Games in Singapore, Mei won golds in the individual all-around and balance beam.
The 1.52m-tall athlete also helped the Republic retain the team gold.
LE YIN SHUEN
Events: Changquan and jianshu (sword)
“I feel honoured because it’s a rare opportunity for athletes at my age to go to the SEA Games.”Le Yin Shuen, 14, who is Team Singapore’s youngest wushu exponent for the coming SEA Games
Le Yin Shuen, 14, is Singapore's youngest wushu exponent heading to Kuala Lumpur.
The SEA Games will be her third overseas competition and she will be competing in the women's changquan and jianshu events.
"I feel honoured because it's a rare opportunity for athletes at my age to go to the SEA Games," said the Secondary 2 student at Nanyang Girls' High School.
"This is my first big tournament, so the exposure and experience are the most important to me. Winning a medal would be a bonus."
Yin Shuen represented Singapore at last year's World Junior Wushu Championships in Bulgaria and finished fourth in three events.
Singapore bagged seven medals at the tournament.
"Wushu is a unique sport. I took it up as a co-curricular activity, but I didn't expect to join the national team," said Yin Shuen, who picked up the sport in Primary 1 as a hobby.
"The training is quite tough, but it's worth it, especially when we go overseas and compete with professional athletes."
Sport: Artistic gymnastics
Events: Team, horizontal bar, floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bar
Ryan Lee, 17, loves gymnastics so much that he chose to retain a year in school to train for the SEA Games.
Said the Catholic Junior College student: "There were many times when I wanted to give up, but my parents and teammates have always encouraged me.
"If other gymnasts can succeed, so can I."
Naturally, he is looking forward to the SEA Games, which will be his first major competition.
He said: "When someone believes in me, I get motivated. I know there's a reason why they picked me."
The 1.66m-tall athlete won two gold medals in the rings and the artistic team event at last month's Asean Schools Games in Singapore.
As a student-athlete, Ryan believes that time management is the key to juggling studies and sport successfully. His SEA Games target is to qualify for the individual rings final.
"My advantage in the rings is that I gain strength much easier than others," said Ryan, who is one of two Singapore gymnasts in the rings event.