Olympics: Singapore House will provide athletes with all the support they require for the Olympics

The Singapore House in Rio has been a roaring success. Team Singapore athletes have found the three-level bungalow-converted facility a haven to unwind and destress from the high pressure environment that comes with competing at the Summer Games.
Top: Senior sports physiotherapist Yeo Hwee Koon (left) is one of 18 staff members who will be at the Singapore House in Rio de Janeiro. They will offer holistic care for 25 Singapore athletes during the Olympics - the Republic's joint-largest contin
Senior sports physiotherapist Yeo Hwee Koon (left) is one of 18 staff members who will be at the Singapore House in Rio de Janeiro. They will offer holistic care for 25 Singapore athletes during the Olympics - the Republic's joint-largest contingent since the 1956 Games.PHOTOS: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Biomechanist Ryan Hodierne (left) will be filming the likes of swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen in action. Data collected from races will help national coach Sergio Lopez in formulating a game plan.
Biomechanist Ryan Hodierne (above) will be filming the likes of swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen in action. Data collected from races will help national coach Sergio Lopez in formulating a game plan.

S'pore House will provide athletes with all the support they require for Olympics

Whether it is much-needed therapy for the body or the mind, comforting local food or in-depth video analysis, the Singapore House will cater to all the needs of the country's Olympic representatives in Rio de Janeiro.

The 7,600 sq ft, three-level facility will offer round-the-clock holistic care for the 25 national athletes as they attempt to add to the Republic's all-time tally of four Olympic medals.

Sport psychologist Zhao Jinhong, 52, was there at the 2008 Beijing Games when the women's table tennis team clinched silver. She will be in Rio too, but this time, to aid a team with two Olympic debutantes in Yu Mengyu and Zhou Yihan, who will join world No. 4 Feng Tianwei.

One of her challenges is to help the athletes cope with fatigue and the stress of competing on world sport's grandest stage. To that end, regular mental exercises are vital, stressed Zhao, one of two psychologists sent to Brazil by the Singapore Sports Institute. They will have a dedicated consultation room to conduct sessions at the Singapore House, which is about 5km from the Olympic Games Village, the official residence of participants.

Zhao added: "I'm there to help them increase self-awareness, adjust to mental pressure, increase mental strength and build confidence."

 

A comprehensive recovery regimen is also crucial in ensuring the athletes remain injury-free and are able to compete at 100 per cent during the Aug 5-21 competition.

  • WHAT'S AT SINGAPORE HOUSE IN RIO

    18-MAN STAFF

    • 1 x doctor, nurse, dietitian, chef, physiologist, biomechanist, sports performance analyst •• 2 x psychologists •• 3 x trainers, physiotherapists, high performance team members

    FOR PHYSIOTHERAPIST/ PHYSIOLOGIST USE

    • 150 rolls of sports tape, five different types for various injury management and prevention •• Six treatment beds •• Three extra-large high-density exercise mats •• Two therapeutic combination units with electrostimulation and ultrasound function •• Two sets of wireless electric muscle stimulators, plus two sets of pulse-recovery compression suits •• One portable real-time ultrasound machine

    • One electrical cooling and compression unit

    • One full-size suitcase packed with medication and dressings

    • One portable ice bath

    FOR NUTRITIONIST USE

    • 1 20-litre rice cooker

    • 100 bottles of beetroot juice shots

    • 80 packets of three-in-one instant soy and malt drinks

    • 80 serves of emergency food, including shelf stable meals (army rations)

    • About 40kg of food pastes

    • 10 boxes of probiotic capsules

    • 5kg protein powder

    • 2kg of meal replacement shakes

    FOR BIOMECHANIST USE

    • Four video cameras

    • Two tripods, one monopod

    • Two tablets/ mobile devices

The staff of 18 at the Singapore House, which has four en-suite rooms that can accommodate 16 people, includes three physiotherapists, three massage therapists, a doctor and a nurse.

Edwin Chong, 32, is the sole physiologist but he can supervise the recovery programmes of several athletes simultaneously. Not only are the electro muscle stimulators which he attaches onto the athlete's body ideal for active recovery, they can be controlled wirelessly and are therefore time-efficient.

"The treatment takes about 20 to 25 minutes and I can monitor them while they're in the other room relaxing or grabbing a quick bite," he said.

While these are elite athletes in top physical condition, the value of comfort food cannot be dismissed.

Besides a gymnasium and swimming pool on-site, the Singapore House has two kitchens and a dining hall that will offer a staggering 88-dish menu over the course of the Games.

It will serve local favourites - albeit healthier versions - like bak kut teh, laksa, chicken rice, red bean soup and pulut hitam.

Meal times can be hard to pin down due to the athletes' differing schedules, said associate sports dietician Cheryl Teo.

"It depends on their training time slots and what they do but we give them food options they're comfortable with," she said.

Biomechanist Ryan Hodierne, 32, will provide a different kind of fuel to the athletes - information.

The South African-born Briton will be stationed high in the stands at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium to film the likes of Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, as well as their main rivals.

By dividing the 50m pool's length into five segments, he is able to calculate in-depth statistics like stroke count, stroke length, rate and efficiency, start and turn times. The data allows national coach Sergio Lopez to devise specific race strategies for his swimmers.

Hodierne said: "We're all trying to do what we can to give our athletes that extra edge that hopefully can make all the difference in a race."

Additional reporting by Nicola Chew

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2016, with the headline 'Housing needs and dreams'. Print Edition | Subscribe