WHAT I'VE LEARNT FROM RIO OLYMPICS

Making a run for Singapore athletics

Timothee Yap is eager to take the lessons learnt from the stars of the track in Rio, including Jamaican Usain Bolt, to help the growth of the sporting fraternity here.
Timothee Yap is eager to take the lessons learnt from the stars of the track in Rio, including Jamaican Usain Bolt, to help the growth of the sporting fraternity here. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Olympics are regarded as the pinnacle of an athlete's career. What is to be learnt at the Games? Five recent Singapore Olympians tell The Sunday Times of their key takeaways.

Sprinter Timothee Yap wanted his 10 seconds of glory at the Olympics to be more than just about wefies with his idol, Usain Bolt.

So he watched and learnt from the best in Rio, including the likes of Bolt, Canadian Andre De Grasse and American Justin Gatlin.

"They use the toe drive off the starting blocks (where sprinters come off the blocks driving the toe of their trailing leg low across the ground instead of kicking upwards on the second stride) while most of us use a cycling motion that wastes more time. They also have really good hip movement so their strides are longer," recalled the 21-year-old.

It might have been too late for him to change his technique during the Games, but the law undergraduate picked up a useful tip watching Jamaica's Bolt compete in the same 100m heat as him.

He said: "Some sprinters are extremely focused and intense before they get on the blocks, but Bolt is always relaxed and loose."

Yap knew that like the stick-on tattoo of the Singapore flag on his shoulder, this moment would be fleeting. With just one lane separating him from his idol, he relished all 10.79 seconds of his Round 1 race despite finishing last in his heat and not improving on his personal best time of 10.62sec.

"I went out for (that) race relaxed and tried to enjoy myself. My time turned out to be faster than the first one (in the preliminary round), even though I was feeling more tired," said Yap, who received a consolation tap on the shoulder from Bolt after the race.

"We talked before (the race) and he told me I was still young and he's sure he'd see me racing again in the future. That was really inspiring. I felt like I could do anything after that, like even run the 200m," joked the Singaporean.

Yap is still adapting to the attention an Olympian gets, but he wants the spotlight to shine on the athletics fraternity instead.

He said: "I'm hoping the interest will be cultivated because we've got world-class facilities and hopefully Singapore can become a sporting powerhouse. I learnt that Singaporeans can be the best in the world, Joseph Schooling proved it. Hopefully people start paying more attention to athletes and take sports seriously."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 04, 2016, with the headline 'Making a run for Singapore athletics'. Print Edition | Subscribe