The Straits Times carried a report on 28 May 2008 on the possibiliy of exciting young sprinter Calvin Kang being offered a wildcard to compete in the 100m at this year’s Beijing Olympics. According to SAAA chieftain Loh Lin Kok, this and the other recent successes by young Singapore athletes at the South-east Asian Junior Championships are signs that his national body’s efforts to create a new generation of Singapore athletes are slowly coming to fruition.
Last year was definitely a watershed year for Calvin as he amazingly brought down his times from sub-11sec to 10.55sec to emerge as Singapore’s fastest junior.
His rate of improvement brings back memories of how former national sprinter UK Shyam, under the guidance of Pedro Acuna, brought down his 10.8sec-timing to a national record-breaking and SEA Games silver-medal winning 10.37sec in 2001.
What’s even more exciting is the fact that Calvin is still only 17 while Shyam was 25 when he clocked the new national record.
It means the exciting possibility that Calvin could end up not only breaking the men’s national record in the near future but also becoming the first Singapore sprinter to clock a sub-10.1secs.
So I do hope he gets the wild card ticket to Beijing. The exposure can only do him good – and hopefully set him up for a medal finish at the 2009 SEA Games in Laos.
On another note, I found SAAA president Loh Lin Kok’s quote at the end of the ST report ( “It shows that my association’s efforts to produce a new generation is (sic) coming to fruition.” ) rather interesting.
Truth be told, Singapore athletics will not be enjoying the growing successes that it has been achieving in the past few years without the advent of the Singapore Sports School.
The School’s Track and Field Academy was in many ways a god-send to the SAAA because it meant that the cream of Singapore’s young athletics talent would now housed in one centre and given the proper systematic training and educational support to help them to maximize their sporting potential.
Before that, the Singapore track and field scene was really low level.
Promising athletes were not getting the sort of training needed to help them raise their standards and every talented youngster was just focusing their sights on winning medals at the national schools championships.
Once these goals were reached, save for a hardcore few, the majority would then happily drop out of track to focus on their studies. And because it didn’t have the expertise nor any other supportive structures to convince these kids (and their parents) that it would be worth their while to carry on with training after leaving school, there was simply precious little that the SAAA could do to stem the talent drain.
So, in my humble opinion, the best thing that the SAAA ever did was to sign that Memorandum of Understanding and Partnership Agreement with the Singapore Sports School in 2003 to recognise the latter’s Track and Field Academy its youth development system.
Then, apart from occasional meetings and discussions, the SAAA wisely chose to leave the Track And Field Academy’s own coaches to do their work.
The results speak for themselves.
Just check out the national age-group, junior and Open records here and you can see that most of the new records were broken from 2004 onwards (the year the Sports School started operations) and that the bulk of the record-breakers are from the Sports School.
So come on, let’s give credit where credit is really due, hey?
Yours in Sport
Singapore Sports Fan