SINGAPORE - Discus thrower Eric Yee last turned out for Singapore at the 2019 SEA Games 14 months ago. Since then, as the pandemic hit and competitions such as the Asean University Games were postponed, he has found himself in a standstill, with only small-scale performance trials for him to compete in.
But he has remained patient, and treats these sessions - including the upcoming Singapore Athletics (SA) All Comers Meet 1 - as chances to "build up momentum" for future and bigger events.
The 21-year-old said: "I am trying to gain as many data points as possible since the Covid situation has made it such that competition plans are so uncertain."
The SA All Comers Meet 1 will be held from Friday to Sunday (Feb 26-28) at the Home of Athletics in Kallang.
The meet, which was cancelled last year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, provides local athletes with an opportunity to return to competition as well as to hit qualification standards for major competitions like the year-end SEA Games in Vietnam.
SA president Lien Choong Luen told The Straits Times: "In light of the Covid situation, it is even more important to have local events so that the athletes, especially those in the open category, will get the chance to race as they do not have an opportunity to race overseas.
"It is our responsibility to put up a relatively large-scale event for athletes to return to competing since meets are the only venue for them to get real race experience."
The national track and field body held other competitive events such as the Performance Trials from last November to January but those events were open only to the top-eight ranked athletes and varsity athletes.
Unlike the Performance Trials which were geared towards letting elite athletes race in a smaller field, the All Comers Meet, as the name suggests, is more "inclusive", and "open to athletes of different ages and standards", noted Lien.
The All Comers Meet will comprise a series of six events throughout the year, thus making it the main local championship. And since "athletes do not usually peak in their first race," Lien noted that the many editions will provide athletes with more opportunities to compete.
Elizabeth-Ann Tan, who will be competing in the Women's Open 100m, is eager to get back into race mode and improve her personal best timing of 12.25sec.
The 17-year-old said: "Every meet is very important because they serve as milestones to check my progress. Furthermore, with Covid-19 still ongoing, I don't take for granted that the next opportunity to race will come by. Every meet that comes along is definitely treasured."
For Eric, this weekend's meet is critical as he is hoping to be able to qualify for the 2021 SEA Games.
He added: "It is still too early in the season to be seriously competing at a high level, especially since the Asean University Games has been postponed and the qualifying window will likely be shifted again. The All Comers Meet will just be more of a test of my training."