Winter sports: Cheyenne Goh, 18, becomes first Singapore athlete to qualify for Olympics, will race in Pyeongchang

Short track speed skater Cheyenne Goh at the National Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Singapore in 2016. PHOTO: SINGAPORE ICE SKATING ASSOCIATION

SINGAPORE - Almost a week after learning that she had made history by becoming the first Singaporean to qualify for the Winter Olympics, short track speed skater Cheyenne Goh still cannot believe she will be competing at February's Pyeongchang Games.

Even after the 18-year-old's spot was officially confirmed yesterday after the qualified quota places for the sport were released by the International Skating Union (ISU), Goh, who will compete in the women's 1,500m event, told The Straits Times last night: "It feels so crazy. I know it's true, but there's still a part of me that doesn't really believe it.

"It's been quite unreal, but still slowly sinking in... I'm definitely very excited but also a bit nervous because it's the biggest sporting event in the world."

Cheyenne earned her spot after competing at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating events, which were qualifying competitions for the Winter Games.

The four World Cup competitions, which took place from September and concluded last weekend, were held in Budapest, Dordrecht, Shanghai and Seoul.

A skater's three best performances out of the four competitions were considered for qualification.

Cheyenne's chances of qualifying were boosted when she reached the semi-finals of the Shanghai leg two weeks ago, finishing 20th and earning points that helped her qualification effort.

After a 51st-place finish at the Seoul competition last weekend, she knew she had qualified, and her spot at next year's Games was made official yesterday.

"(Qualifying for the Winter Olympic Games) was a bit of a stretch for this year - I hoped that I would make it, but I wasn't expecting it," said the Singaporean, who returned from the August SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur with two silvers and one bronze.

She is based in Canada, but will remain in Singapore to prepare for the Feb 9-25 Pyeongchang Games.

"Right now, I'm just going to focus on training and preparing for the competition... it's such a high-level competition and I have a lot to work on and improve," added Cheyenne, who in February was the first local female short track speed skater to compete at the Asian Winter Games.

She was also the first Singaporean woman to feature at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in March.

"It's been a very exciting year for me. This is my second season on the national team and having gone for (these competitions) and having good results... there have been so many new experiences and I'm very happy to have had these opportunities," she said.

Singapore Ice Skating Association president Sonja Chong said she was glad the goal of qualifying for and competing at the Winter Olympics is now a reality, adding: "We are very excited that Singapore has qualified for the Winter Olympics for the first time ever.

"This is a huge milestone for winter sports in Singapore."

The women's 1,500m short track event is pencilled in for Feb 17.

Short track speed skating sees skaters race on an oval ice track with a circumference of 111.12 metres, on a rink measuring 60m by 30m.

It became a full Olympic sport in 1992.

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