Singapore Sailing looks ahead to 2020 Olympics

(From left) At the Singapore Sailing team Olympics appreciation night yesterday were Chua Tan Ching (high performance and team manager), Soh Ling Ying (assistant manager), Sara Tan, Jovina Choo, Leonard Ong, Griselda Khng, Justin Liu, Elizabeth Yin,
(From left) At the Singapore Sailing team Olympics appreciation night yesterday were Chua Tan Ching (high performance and team manager), Soh Ling Ying (assistant manager), Sara Tan, Jovina Choo, Leonard Ong, Griselda Khng, Justin Liu, Elizabeth Yin, Colin Cheng, Denise Lim, Amanda Ng and Audrey Yong.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

It was an evening to celebrate the return of Singapore's 10 sailing Olympians from Rio de Janeiro but Ben Tan is already looking ahead to the 2020 edition.

Speaking at yesterday's Olympics Appreciation Night at the National Sailing Centre, the Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) president pointed to the colours of the backdrop - blue and white, which are also the colours of the Tokyo Games.

"We already have the Tokyo Olympics in mind," he said. "We're also looking at 2024 as well."

Refining future aspiring Olympians' campaigns is just one of the ways the federation will prepare for the 2020 Games.

There is also the issue of looking for sparring partners, as well as anticipating how the Olympic sailing classes could evolve, said Dr Tan.

The women's skiff class made its debut at this year's Olympic Games, and the 48-year-old former Asian Games gold medallist believes kite-surfing, which will feature at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, could soon be an Olympic sailing event as well.

He added: "We have to be aligned and evolve with the rest of the world. The Olympic classes are evolving and changing.

"As a federation, we have to be many steps ahead of others."

Dr Tan added that while an "in-depth review" of the sailors' 2016 Olympics campaign will be conducted over the next few weeks, he is generally happy with their performance in Rio.

He singled out 49er FX skiff pair Griselda Khng and Sara Tan for praise. The duo finished 15th out of 20 competitors and Dr Tan said: "It's not surprising that they finished well for first-time Olympians - their campaign was run very well.

The 10 sailors - Colin Cheng, Justin Liu, Denise Lim, Audrey Yong, Elizabeth Yin, Leonard Ong, Jovina Choo, Amanda Ng, Khng and Tan - were all present at last night's event, together with an estimated 200 other guests.

"They spent so much time in Europe immersing themselves in the competition," said Dr Tan, "and they chose to compete in the toughest ones (against) the top sailors.

"They could have chosen to go to smaller competitions for ranking points, but instead they faced up to the competition - that's how you get better."

For 25-year-old Khng, who spent about three months in Europe with sailing partner Tan before the Olympics this year, the long time spent away from home was necessary.

She said: "The whole fleet is there, so if you miss out on a competition, you miss out on a lot.

"It's not just us making all these sacrifices; everyone who is serious about doing an Olympic campaign has to commit, so that's nothing out of the ordinary for us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore Sailing looks ahead to 2020 Olympics'. Print Edition | Subscribe