Come the 2020 Olympic Games, Singapore's medal chances might not be resting solely on a star swimmer or its table-tennis aces. In Tokyo, highly regarded skateboarder Farris Rahman could just be among Team Singapore's medal hopefuls after his sport was among five to be included in the next Olympics.
Yesterday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced its approval of five new sports to the programme for the Tokyo Games - baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing, adding another 18 events and 474 athletes from these five disciplines to the Games.
The Rio Olympics, which begin tomorrow, will feature more than 10,000 athletes competing in 306 events in 28 sports.
Skateboarder Farris, 21, finished second at the 2011 Asian X Games in Shanghai, while his brother Feroze, 25, took gold. Their elder brother Firdaus, 29, has also competed at some of the world's top skateboarding competitions. The brothers are fancying their chances in the Japanese capital but, first, a National Sport Association (NSA) for skateboarding needs to be established.
Of the new Olympic sports, only sport climbing, karate and baseball/ softball have recognised NSAs. NSAs are affiliated with the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), the national body that nominates athletes for the Olympics.
Coming to Tokyo Olympics
4 Sport climbing
The inclusion of the new sports will add 18 events and 474 athletes to the Olympic Games.
Said Farris: "I've been waiting for this opportunity for so long and it's been a lifelong dream for me to skate for Singapore in the Olympics. It'll be a big pity if we are left out of the Olympics because there's no NSA to back us up. Singapore has a possibility of winning a medal in skateboarding, but it is a real worry to know that it might all go to waste because of this issue."
The door is open for the skateboarding community to set up its local body.
Director of NSA partnership Leonard Pattiselanno at the Singapore Sports Institute said: "We will meet the potential skateboarders to understand their needs and discuss with relevant stakeholders like the SNOC on options to assist them."
But while the IOC announcement has created more opportunities for Singaporean athletes to contest on sport's grandest stage, the qualification process is still long and arduous.
SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan said: "New sports which are keen to participate in major Games should first set up an NSA and apply for affiliation with the SNOC so they can nominate their athletes for major Games.
"Qualifying for the Olympic Games takes many years and requires a lot of effort. We recommend NSAs which are keen to qualify to work out a development and performance training programme."
Existing NSAs of the new Olympic sports are keen to take up the challenge.
Singapore Baseball and Softball Association president Jeffeury Tan said: "The average age of both the women's and men's teams is 22 to 23, so they are a young bunch. Even though we know we may not be able to compete with big teams like Japan and Korea, we can still look forward to Olympic qualifying."
Singapore Karate-Do Federation president David Thong: "Tokyo 2020 is four years away and it won't be impossible for us to shine. But it's the Olympics, and our sport has to work very hard to ensure that we have the best representatives."
Sport climber Gavin Chiam, 19, is excited to have a "new goal". Said the full-time national serviceman who won the National Championship this year: "I'm not ruling myself out because I'm still young and there's still a lot I can improve on in the next five years."
•Additional reporting by Alvin Chia, Yogaraj Panditurai, May Chen and Wang Meng Meng