Cheng will work on tactics and fitness to improve

Colin Cheng sailing his Laser dinghy in the waters of Guanabara Bay on the final day of racing last Saturday. His first and last races went well but he finished in 20th place out of a fleet of 46 competitors.
Colin Cheng sailing his Laser dinghy in the waters of Guanabara Bay on the final day of racing last Saturday. His first and last races went well but he finished in 20th place out of a fleet of 46 competitors.PHOTO: REUTERS

Olympians aim to go faster, higher, stronger. Colin Cheng was looking to go from a 15th place at the last Olympics to a spot within the top 10 in Rio.

The Laser sailor finished his second Olympics on Saturday 20th in the 46-strong fleet, admittedly disappointed that he had fallen short of his goal.

"I probably didn't show as much potential as I think I have," he told The Straits Times.

Over 10 races, Cheng spent half the time lingering in the middle of the pack, or in his words - "a hard place to be".

He said: "We always say that the results don't matter as much as whether you were sailing well and making good decisions. At the end of the day, if we sail well, more often than not you'll get a good result.

"But when it comes to the Games, of course it's results that we're looking at."

THE BOTTOM LINE

We always say that the results don't matter as much as whether you were sailing well and making good decisions. At the end of the day, if we sail well, more often than not you'll get a good result.

COLIN CHENG, on his tough outing in Rio.

Cheng's fine showing on his Olympic debut at the 2012 London Games made him the top Asian in a class widely considered to be one of the most competitive. It was the best Singapore had done at this level.

Clinching a top-10 finish this time would have earned him a place in the medal race.

"A lot of things went right for me in London. You can call it luck, or whatever you want to call it, but the 50-50 probabilities then went my way but this time round, it probably went the other way.

"That's just the nature of the game. Sometimes these percentages work out in your favour, and sometimes they don't."

Even as he spends his remaining time in Rio with his parents and girlfriend, who travelled to Brazil to support him, time will also be required to take stock of his second Olympic campaign.

To him, commitment to tactics need to be worked on and fitness can be improved on.

Cheng will return to Sydney, where he is based, to finish his final year of studies at the University of New South Wales. What lies after graduation remains fuzzy for now, but Tokyo remains on the horizon.

Turning 27 in a few weeks, going after a third Olympics - he will be almost 31 come the 2020 Games - would mean smarter management of his body.

Many top-level Laser sailors compete well into their 30s. Briton Ben Ainslie, the most decorated Olympic sailor with four golds and one silver, won his last Games title in London at age 35. Brazil's Robert Schiedt, who currently lies in sixth, has won a medal at each of his five previous Olympics - two of them gold - and is 43.

Said Cheng; "I can feel changes in my body, I feel things that I didn't feel before. But it's not at the stage where it's hurting me, or hurting my physical ability.

"But it's a reminder that I need to be more aware of planning, and not be silly with what I do with my body.

"Experience really counts for a lot and it's about managing. If I make a run for 2020, age shouldn't be an issue."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline 'Cheng will work on tactics and fitness to improve'. Print Edition | Subscribe