|HOME | SPORTS | OLYMPICS | NEWS|
|August 21, 2000||
Singapore stars focus on personal goalsGodwin Chellam in Singapore
Going for gold? Just going to Sydney may have to be reward enough for Singapore's 14-member Olympic squad.
It's been 40 years since Tan Howe Liang unexpectedly won a weightlifting silver in the Rome Games -- Singapore's only Olympic medal -- and the city-state's sports officials harbour no illusions about their chances in Sydney.
"However, we do hope they will improve on their past achievements."
That is a veiled challenge to the Sydney squad after the debacle four years ago in Atlanta.
The team that went to the 1996 Games not only came home empty-handed but failed to perform up to previous levels, with several athletes succumbing to lower-ranked opponents.
The team going to Sydney is not totally without medal hopes.
Leading the way is 20-year-old Joscelin Yeo, the multiple national record-holder who anchored her team at the University of California to a world record in the 4x50 metres medley relay at the U.S. collegiate championships in March.
Two days earlier she was part of the 4x50 metres freestyle relay team that rewrote the U.S. Open record.
Yeo is seen as a good bet to advance in the 100 metres individual medley and butterfly events in Sydney.
The duo, previously Chinese nationals who have gained Singaporean citizenship, defeated their former compatriots Wang Nan and Li Ju, the Chinese world champions, along the way.
The pair have entered both singles and doubles events in Sydney.
Singapore is also sending seven other swimmers, an air pistol marksman and three entrants in the sailing competition.
Lau said Singapore and its athletes would be happy just to have the chance to compete against the world's best.
But that masks a growing angst in Singapore about the state of athletic competition in this sports-mad country of four million people that traditionally performs well in regional competitions such as the Southeast Asian Games but falters on the world stage.
"The talent base is simply not there," said Lau, who also blamed Singapore's humid tropical climate and lack of geographic diversity for stifling athletic development.
"Besides, when Howe Liang won in 1960, sports was still at an amateur stage. It's more professional now, with strict diet and training regimes.
Singapore's government, true to it's "nanny state" reputation, set several targets earlier this year including an Olympic medal soon, a gold medal in sailing by 2008, and qualification for the World Cup Soccer Cup by 2010.
The government also established a sports ministry and refocused its sport priorities by cutting funding for track and field, seeing little hope of international success there.
Further illustrating the importance attached to sport, the Singapore Olympic Council has promised lucrative cash prizes for medal winners.
A gold medal would earn S$1,000,000 (US$574,380), a silver S$500,000 and a bronze S$250,000.
Mail Sports Editor
TRAVEL | NEWSLINKS
ROMANCE | WEDDING | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | FREE MESSENGER | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK