SINGAPORE - Few 16-year-olds have the courage to leave their family and friends and go to a foreign country some 4,700km away to train for a year and pursue their sporting dreams.
Not speed skater Trevor Tan, who is prepared to go the distance to fulfil his full potential as an athlete.
In a bid to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the Singapore Sports School (SSP) student will put his studies on hold for a year.
He leaves on Monday (Jan 7) to spend a year training at the Goyang Club in Gyeonggi, South Korea.
While he has trained at the Goyang Club four times on shorter stints since mid-2017, Trevor is fully aware this one-year stint away from his loved ones will be his toughest challenge yet.
"I am looking forward to the opportunity of travelling to South Korea on my own as this will help me become a more independent individual," he told The Straits Times on Sunday, after winning the men's Junior B (15-16 years old) 1,000m race at the SEA Open Short Track Trophy at The Rink @ JCube.
"I anticipate that the journey ahead will be long and tough, but I am excited because I know that these experiences will only make me a better skater."
At the Goyang Club, Trevor will train alongside top Korean speed skaters such as 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics champion Kim A-lang, and 2010 Winter Olympics silver medallist Kwak Yoon-gy.
In making the bold move, the teenager follows in the footsteps of national speed skater Lucas Ng, who had moved to Goyang at the end of 2016 to train full-time, but is now back in Singapore.
Besides qualifying for the 2022 Winter Olympics, Trevor has set his sights on doing well at the SEA Games in the Philippines at the end of the year, and the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland.
He will also compete at the World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Seoul from Jan 25 to 27.
At the end of his overseas stint, Trevor will return to the SSP next year to resume his studies in Year Five of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
Trevor was one of the first two winter sports athletes to join the SSP, along with figure skater Pagiel Sng in 2017. Two speed skaters, Amelia Chua Rae-Lene and Ryo Ong Yik, enrolled as Secondary 1 students this year.
SSP principal Tan Teck Hock praised Trevor for his move.
"Making the decision to put studies on hold to pursue one's sporting dreams is never easy and we are proud of Trevor for boldly chasing his dream," he said.
"Singapore Sports School is committed to supporting our student-athletes in their journey towards sports excellence, while obtaining an education.
"Several student-athletes have been granted Leave of Absence while they were at Sports School and we will continue to help those who are pushing for that quantum leap in their development.
"I trust that this year-long training and competition stint will be invaluable to Trevor's development and I wish him the very best."
In other races at the SEA Open Short Track Trophy on Sunday, Singapore's first Winter Olympian Cheyenne Goh clinched the women's 1,000m race to add to the 1,500m and 500m golds she had won on Saturday.
Goh won in a time of 2min 25.351sec, ahead of Filipino duo Kathryn Magno (2:25.976) and Anna Cruz (2:49.932).
Lucas Ng, who had won the men's 500m race and claimed a silver in the 1,500m on Saturday, added another silver in the 1,000m (1:48.759), behind Australian Luke Cullen (1:48.178). Filipino Lyle Cadiz (1:55.288) finished third.