Ice skating: Singapore on track for three golds

Singapore's Lucas Ng getting an edge on his Indonesian and Malaysian rivals during last weekend's MapleZ South-east Asian Short Track Trophy. He won all his three events, and will be favoured to have a successful SEA Games outing.
Singapore's Lucas Ng getting an edge on his Indonesian and Malaysian rivals during last weekend's MapleZ South-east Asian Short Track Trophy. He won all his three events, and will be favoured to have a successful SEA Games outing.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

S'pore aim for half the speed skating titles at SEA Games with Ng leading team's hopes

There will be a total of six gold medals up for grabs in short track speed skating at August's SEA Games and Singapore is aiming to claim at least half of those on offer.

The Republic's top speed skater Lucas Ng, 28, proved his mettle at last weekend's MapleZ South-east Asian Short Track Trophy by sweeping all three individual titles (the 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m), beating closest rival, Malaysia's Wong De-Vin, in each of those races.

Ng revealed that striking gold at the SEA Games is his target, saying: "Definitely, it's is a goal that I'm aiming for."

National coach Chun Lee Kyung added that she has faith in her charges. The South Korean added: "We cannot say now for certain that we can win the gold, but I am expecting the men to win."

When the sport makes its debut at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, the men's and women's 500m and 1,000m individual races and 3,000m relays will be contested.

But both Chun and Ng cautioned that finishing on top of the podium at the Games, where winter sports will make their debut, is not going to be as straightforward as it seems.

Chun, a Korean four-time Olympic gold medallist and triple world champion, noted: "Lucas has a lot of experience because he's been to many competitions, but there is a gap in the level between him and our other skaters."

Ng added that he is not obsessed about winning the gold medal as it can pile additional pressure on himself, saying: "It's unpredictable - a fraction of a second can determine things and we need to adapt to the foreign ice conditions.

"If we are not familiar with the ice, it could affect our confidence level. We might risk falling or losing our balance if we go all out.

"I need to work on maintaining constant speed in different ice conditions."

Chun admitted that it is an uphill task for Singapore's female skaters to bring home the gold medal.

Presently, two of the Malaysian skaters, Anja Chong, 22, and Ashley Chin, 18, are training overseas and both of them have competed at the top-level International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup events last year.

Cheyenne Goh, 17, is the only female Singaporean skater who had recently taken part in the series.

Chun said: "For the women's side, Malaysia are stronger than us. It will be tougher for us to beat them in the relay. I think we'll focus on the individual races."

Added Danielle Han, 26, one of the skaters expected to be selected for the SEA Games squad: "I'm cautiously optimistic. I don't think I can hit the same level as them but I hope that I can improve to bring our overall relay timing down.

"Our chances (of winning) are not as obvious as the men's team. We're the underdogs."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2017, with the headline 'On track for three golds'. Print Edition | Subscribe