Sailing: Singapore's Laser-focused Ryan Lo unofficially secures Tokyo Olympics quota spot

Ryan Lo said that he felt glad and relieved when he found out he earned a berth.
Ryan Lo said that he felt glad and relieved when he found out he earned a berth.PHOTO: RYAN LO/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Singapore sailor Ryan Lo has unofficially secured a quota spot for the Republic at the Tokyo Olympics with an unassailable lead going into the final day of the Asian qualifiers on Thursday (April 8).

With just the medal race left in the April 1-8 Mussanah Open Championship in Oman, Laser sailor Lo has 17 nett points, way ahead of second-placed Keerati Bualong of Thailand (51 nett points).

The top two sailors in the event will secure a place at the July 23-Aug 8 Tokyo Games.

It is mathematically impossible for Lo to drop out of the top two no matter where he finishes on Thursday.

The results will be confirmed after Thursday's race.

Lo, 24, told The Straits Times he felt glad and relieved when he found out he earned a berth.

"I am satisfied that I was able to put in a consistent performance throughout this week. And I'm pretty happy to see my progress and work come to fruition," he said.

"But I still have another medal race tomorrow so I am focusing on that for now."

He credited consistent training, support from sport scientists and his coach Nenad Viali, as well as his stint in Europe in helping him achieve his goal.

He has spent much of the last few months in Europe, where he has been training and competing.

In last October's Laser Senior European Championships and Open European Trophy - his first major event since the Laser Standard World Championships in January - he finished 21st.

The field of 126 included event winner Elliot Hanson, Britain's representative for the upcoming Games, and Croatia's Olympic silver medallist Tonci Stipanovic.

"I was able to train in a wide range of conditions and also with top sailors from all around the world. The high level of competition and training preparations definitely helped in my progress and development," said Lo, adding that Thursday will still be "business as usual".

"(It's) another race, another opportunity for me to try and develop myself as a sailor. Since Covid-19 happened, we have had very limited competitions, so I'll take as many chances to race as I can."

His next race will be the European Olympic qualifiers in Portugal from April 17-24.

Compatriots Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low have already earned Singapore a place in the 49erFX event.

Windsurfer Amanda Ng is also in action in Oman and is in a good position to secure an Olympic quota spot as well.

Ng, 27, is leading with 15 nett points points, three ahead of Charizanne Napa of the Philippines, and has to remain first after Thursday's race.

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, world No. 67 Ng finished 20th in the women's 470 with Jovina Choo.

The Asian qualifiers were supposed to take place in Abu Dhabi and were postponed twice since its original date last March owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Lincoln Chee, president of the Singapore Sailing Federation, said: "This qualification is Ryan's first success at the Olympic level since embarking on a full-time Olympic campaign as a SpexScholar.

"Both Ryan and coach Nenad set the course for the sailors and coaches in the youth programme back home, working hard to produce future batches of sailors like Ryan and Amanda to chase the Olympic dream."

Singapore were represented in the Laser by Colin Cheng at the 2012 London Games and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He finished 15th and 20th respectively.