Olympics: Team Singapore ready to make country proud

Chef de mission Low Teo Ping (centre, in red jacket) and some members of the 25-strong Singapore contingent at the Games Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday after the welcome ceremony. Not all the Singapore athletes were present, as some wer
Chef de mission Low Teo Ping (centre, in red jacket) and some members of the 25-strong Singapore contingent at the Games Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday after the welcome ceremony. Not all the Singapore athletes were present, as some were training.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Chances to win medals in Rio are there, says chef de mission as the world's athletes begin settling into Games Village

Singapore's flag was raised for the first time at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics yesterday as the Republic's athletes and officials were officially welcomed at the Games Village of the XXXI Olympiad.

Aided by a steady breeze, the red and white state flag flew high and proud. The ceremony was a symbolic gesture, one which did not involve champions being crowned.

But over the course of the next three weeks, Team Singapore's 25-athlete contingent will be hoping that the Singapore flag will also be flying at venues across this Brazilian city.

With Singapore's women's table tennis players hoping to mount the podium at a third consecutive Olympics and swimmer Joseph Schooling a contender for a a medal in the men's 100m butterfly, Singapore could even better its best showing of two medals at the Olympics.

Said Singapore chef de mission Low Teo Ping: "The expectations are definitely there. The athletes are very much in the zone... The chances are there and if they do their personal best, we will maybe manage a few medals."

Singapore has won four medals, two silvers and two bronzes, since its first appearance at the 1948 London edition.

At the last Games, also in the British capital, the Republic returned with two bronze medals courtesy of the women's table tennis team.

Besides the paddlers and Schooling, shooters Jasmine Ser and Teo Shun Xie, who have won medals at international events, are also keen to show that they can hold their own with the world's best.

But before the first day of action on Saturday, the athletes of the world have been busy settling into what will be their home for the next few weeks.

Reports of some thefts and fires, and other infrastructure problems in the Village, were largely overblown, said Singapore windsurfer Audrey Yong.

She said: "Some of the toilets had problems but these have been resolved.

"The accommodation is similar to that in the last Asian Games (Incheon in 2014). Plus, we have a big balcony, so that's nice."

With the opening ceremony at the city's iconic Maracana Stadium taking place on Friday, the majority of the 10,500 athletes from 206 countries have arrived, adding to the growing buzz within the Village.

Yet, the relaxed mood - Morocco's national cycling team made an impromptu pit stop to chat with their Italian counterparts - belies the competitive spirit inside each athlete.

As Venezuelan fencer Ruben Limardo, the men's epee champion in London 2012, said: "It is really not important to me if the rooms are comfortable or there is a nice view. I am here chasing my dream to win another gold medal. That is the mentality I think everyone here has.

"We are not here for a holiday."

Follow the latest Olympics 2016 news here at str.sg/olympics.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2016, with the headline 'Team S'pore ready to make country proud'. Print Edition | Subscribe