Olympics: S'pore National Olympic Council approve 21 athletes for Rio Games; more expected in coming weeks

From left: Marathoner Neo Jie Shi, as well as swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, are qualified to represent Singapore at this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
From left: Marathoner Neo Jie Shi, as well as swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, are qualified to represent Singapore at this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.PHOTOS: NEW PAPER, ST FILE, ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A total of 21 athletes from six sports have been given the nod to represent Singapore at this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, after a meeting conducted by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC)'s selection committee on Tuesday (May 31) afternoon.

The committee, chaired by Minister for Social and Family Development and SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin, also gave in-principle endorsement to athletes who are still awaiting confirmation or an invite from their respective international federations.

For now, at least three more athletes - two from athletics and one from swimming - are set to join Singapore's contingent.

This means a minimum of 24 athletes will compete at the Aug 5-21 Rio Games, one more than the 23 at the 2012 edition in London.

In athletics, Singapore will be eligible to be send one male and one female athlete to compete in one event each by virtue of the universality places policy should there be no qualified athletes.

Female marathoner Neo Jie Shi has met the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)' Olympic qualifying standard by being among the top-10 finishers at a Gold Label event - she was 10th at last December's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore - but will have to wait until July for confirmation from the IAAF.

No Singaporean male track and field athlete has qualified yet for Rio.

Swimming, too, allows for a swimmer to be entered in one event if either gender does not have a qualified athlete.

While Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen have clocked 'A' qualifying times and booked their places in Brazil, no Singaporean female swimmer has met the 'A' cut yet.

The Republic, however, has previously qualified swimmers based on 'B' qualifying times and is expected to do the same this time.

World swimming governing body Fina is expected to release the list of invited swimmers based on 'B' qualifying times in July.

Said SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan: "More than half of the contingent will make their debut and there are also seasoned campaigners who are participating in their second or third Olympic Games. We look forward to a positive outing in Rio."

There are 13 debutants in Singapore's current 21-men team. Table tennis players Feng Tianwei and Gao Ning will be competing in their third straight Olympics.

Sailing will send a bumper crop of athletes, with nine from six classes, while Saiyidah Aisyah will be the Republic's first rower at the Olympics.