Olympics: Windsurfer Ong books his ticket to Rio via Asian Championships

Should he be chosen, Leonard Ong will be the first windsurfer in 32 years to represent Singapore at the Olympics.
Should he be chosen, Leonard Ong will be the first windsurfer in 32 years to represent Singapore at the Olympics. PHOTO: SINGAPORE SAILING FEDERATION

Windsurfer Leonard Ong has qualified for the RS:X Men's class event at this year's Olympic Games by finishing seventh at the Asian Sailing Federation (ASAF) Asian Championship in Abu Dhabi.

Ong, 24, secured one of two qualification berths for men's windsurfing that were on offer. They were given to the highest-ranking countries which had not already qualified for the event at the Games.

Ong won a bronze and a silver at the 2011 and 2015 SEA Games respectively. He is the first windsurfer to qualify for the Olympics since Kelly Chan represented Singapore at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

"He had good form and positive attitude coming into this event, which helped him do well," said Singapore Sailing Federation's head of performance Chua Tan Ching.

"He has been training intensively since 2010, having to serve in NS as well as find time for his academics. The amount of effort he has put in has definitely paid off," said Chua.

Fellow windsurfer Audrey Yong missed out on qualification after finishing behind Thai rival Siripon Kaewduangngam. The two have often gone head to head. Yong beat the Thai to gold at last year's SEA Games while Kaewduangngam took gold at the 2010 Youth Olympics, where Yong won bronze.

Chua highlighted the difficult conditions that hampered Yong's bid to become Singapore's first female windsurfer at the Olympics.

"The weather patterns were affected by a large storm that passed through the competition area, which made Audrey's race more challenging. Regardless of the result, both of our sailors have done a fantastic job for Team Singapore."

With Ong's qualification, Singapore now has six berths in the sailing competition at Rio. The contingent, which is Singapore's biggest sailing team in the history of the Games, is currently the second largest in Asia, tied with China and behind Japan, who have seven places.

Neither sailor could be reached for comment yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 13, 2016, with the headline 'Ong books his ticket to Rio via Asian Championships'. Print Edition | Subscribe