The 8th Asean School Games (ASG) is Singaporean sprinter Elizabeth Tan's first outing at a major meet, and the 12-year-old is understandably "nervous yet excited" at the prospect of competing with much older opponents in the under-18 competition.
But the Nanyang Girls' High School student has her sights set on her future goal - to race alongside her role model, sprint queen Shanti Pereira, in the 4x100m relay at a future SEA Games.
Speaking to The Straits Times at the ASG opening ceremony at Chiang Mai University's convention centre yesterday, Elizabeth said: "Shanti wasn't one of the bigger names in Singapore's track and field scene, but she trained very hard to win the 200m race at last year's SEA Games.
"That made me realise that if you have dreams, you just have to train hard and stay focused to achieve your goals."
The annual Games begin today, and Elizabeth has been pencilled in for the 100m and 4x100m relay races at the athletics competition, which begins on Monday.
With a personal best of 12.86sec, the Secondary One student's speed is second only to 16-year-old team-mate Tanisha Moghe (12.6sec) in Singapore's ASG athletics contingent .
But the 1.62m tall Elizabeth is determined to go faster at these Games.
"The track here is different from the one in Singapore, but I hope to do well and get some experience racing with opponents who are older than me," she said.
Also making his ASG debut is tennis junior Ahmad Naqib, who competed at the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament leading up to the French Open in Paris last year.
Despite admitting it is "impossible" to beat his opponents from Thailand, who are ranked in the 100s on the International Tennis Federation circuit, the 14-year-old unranked player remained hopeful of causing an upset.
"The Thais are all very strong, but I still want to try and beat them," said Raffles Institution student Naqib, who competed among 15 juniors from countries like Britain and the United States at the Longines tournament.
"I'll try my best to challenge them anyway."
Yesterday's opening ceremony saw over 1,000 student-athletes from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Brunei in attendance.
This year's edition of the annual multi-sport event will feature 10 sports - athletics, badminton, basketball, golf, gymnastics, swimming, table tennis, tennis, sepak takraw and volleyball.
Singapore will be represented in all sports by 177 student-athletes from 46 secondary schools and junior colleges.
The Games run from today until next Thursday.