YOG: Singapore athletes gear up for Buenos Aires by staying up past their bedtime

Singaporean athletes pose for a group picture during a send off for the Youth Olympic Games at Changi Airport Terminal 3, on Oct 2, 2018. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Windsurfer Marsha Shahrin has been progressively delaying her bedtime by an hour each day since last Thursday (Sept 27); on Tuesday (Oct 2), she slept at 4.30am and woke up at 12.30pm.

The 17-year-old does not intend to adopt a permanently nocturnal lifestyle - she is simply preparing for the Oct 6-18 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is 11 hours behind Singapore.

"I delayed my bedtime by even later because I wanted to make sure I get used to Argentina's time zone," said the teenager, who is competing in the girls' techno 293 event.

"It was very difficult because I didn't know what to do when everyone was asleep and I couldn't make noise, so I just sat in my room and watched videos on Youtube."

Delaying her bedtime has worked, however, as she told The Straits Times at 6.30pm (Singapore time) on Tuesday: "I feel really hyper right now."

Marsha was one of the 17 YOG athletes who left Singapore for Buenos Aires on Tuesday. The Republic will be represented by 18 athletes in 10 sports at this year's YOG - gymnast Tamara Ong is based in Melbourne, and will make her way to Argentina from Australia.

Sport climbing will make its debut at the Games, two years before its maiden appearance in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Mark Chan is the Republic's only athlete in the sport at this year's YOG and the 18-year-old is excited at the opportunity.

"It means being able to show the sport on a bigger scale instead of at a normal World Cup, where it does not really get a lot of attention," said Chan, who has been delaying both his training time and bedtime to cope with the time difference.

In addition, the Temasek Polytechnic student has also tried to train in an air-conditioned setting as much as possible, so as to acclimatise to the cooler temperature in Argentina.

He added: "(The competition) will be tough... I'm taking a step-by-step approach.

"I'll try to get to the final first and when I get there, I'll eye a podium finish. But I definitely want to enjoy myself as much as I can."

At the 2014 YOG in Nanjing, China, Singapore won two golds in sailing and two silvers in shooting.

This year's chef de mission and former Olympic swimmer Tao Li hopes the athletes will give their best effort at the Games, both while competing and immersing themselves in the atmosphere.

"I hope after the YOG, they will learn to be better athletes, and that they aspire to do well at the open level such as the world championships and even at the Olympic Games," said the 28-year-old, who left for Buenos Aires last Saturday (Sept 29).

"Whatever their results may be, I am sure they will learn and bring back valuable lessons."

Tao, a two-time Asian Games champion, is no stranger to attending major Games as a competitive athlete - she has 29 SEA Games swimming titles and remains the only Singaporean woman to make an Olympic swimming final in Beijing 2008.

As a first-time chef de mission, however, Tao believes she has big shoes to fill.

Referring to the likes of sports officials Tan Eng Liang and Jessie Phua, who between the both of them have led Team Singapore as chef de mission (CDM) at a total of eight major Games, Tao said: "(They) have been exemplary role models to younger CDMs... I will try my utmost to be as supportive as I can and to work together with the team to ensure the most conducive environment for our athletes to perform."

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