Record Singapore contingent for Asian Winter Games

Short-track speed skater Cheyenne Goh is among 21 Asian Winter Games debutants.
Short-track speed skater Cheyenne Goh is among 21 Asian Winter Games debutants. PHOTO COURTESY OF SINGAPORE ICE SKATING ASSOCIATION
National forward Liu Zhi Yang shooting during a training session yesterday. He is part of an 18-strong squad going to the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo.
National forward Liu Zhi Yang shooting during a training session yesterday. He is part of an 18-strong squad going to the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

When Singapore's 22 athletes compete at the Asian Winter Games (AWG) which begin on Sunday in Sapporo, Japan, most will venture into uncharted territory.

After all, competing on ice is not the conventional activity of choice for the Republic's tropical city dwellers. And given that Asia has many world-class winter athletes, Singapore's debutants will also likely be competing alongside some of the best in their sport.

With participation across three sports - short-track speed skating, figure skating and ice hockey - this is Singapore's biggest contingent yet at the quadrennial event, up from a single representative at the last edition in Kazakhstan.

There is excitement for a national ice hockey team bound for their most high-level competition yet, but there are also nerves.

"We're just a bit worried about the level (of play)," said forward Lam Kin Yu.

"Many of the countries we're up against have a deep and young bench because they have development programmes that have been going on for 10, 15 years."

  • TEAM SINGAPORE AT THE 2017 ASIAN WINTER GAME

  • SHORT-TRACK SPEED SKATING

    Lucas Ng

    Cheyenne Goh


    FIGURE SKATING

    Chloe Ing

    Yu Shuran


    ICE HOCKEY

    Ang Yu Jin

    Chen Pei Huan

    Chew Wee

    Eugene Chin

    Chiong Woon Lip

    Benjamin Huang

    Lam Kin Yu

    Joewe Lam

    Gabriel Lau

    Joshua Lee

    Kenny Liang

    Samuel Lim

    Liu Zhi Yang

    Loh Chee Seng

    Richard O'Brien

    Siah Ming Zhe

    Peter Tan

    Ryan Tan

Singapore are eyeing a medal in the second tier, where they have been grouped with Hong Kong, Thailand, Chinese Taipei, Mongolia and the United Arab Emirates. They expect the stiffest opposition in the round-robin tournament to come from Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong, who they meet on Saturday, one day before the Games' opening ceremony.

Countries like Japan, South Korea and China play in the four-team top tier. Kazakhstan complete the top division.

Added Lam, 39: "We're going for the experience but also to see where we stand against our opponents. The competition exposure will allow us to work on our tactics and try out different formations."

They leave for Sapporo tomorrow, while the remaining Singapore athletes will fly to Japan from either training or competition stops around the world.

Figure skaters Chloe Ing and Yu Shuran will be fresh from competing at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, which begins today in South Korea.

Ing, 18, told The Straits Times yesterday in a phone interview from Gangneung: "Being able to compete against (world-class skaters), watch their practices... it's a good experience, especially for developing countries like Singapore.

"Just to be in this environment is quite different from a junior competition.

"We're working towards attaining personal bests and skating well."

Four years after his debut at the AWG and now more confident and competent, short-track speed skater Lucas Ng's abilities and expectations of himself have altered greatly.

The 29-year-old has been training full-time, even moving to South Korea, the top performing nation at the Winter Olympics with 21 golds, so he can train more and at a higher level.

Said Ng, who moved to Goyang in October: "Short-track speed skating is never about timing - it's about ranking and placing and it's really unpredictable.

"Anything can happen, so all I can do is do my best to get stronger and faster, so that I will have a better opportunity when I race alongside the best."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2017, with the headline 'Record S'pore contingent for Asian Winter Games'. Print Edition | Subscribe