SINGAPORE: Team Singapore athletes may not have a fixed set of medal targets for the 2018 Asian Games, but their goal nonetheless will be to improve on their previous performances, said Chef de Mission Lee Wung Yew on Tuesday (Aug 14).
He added that he looks forward to “a lot of personal bests” from the athletes.
“Everybody has their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), but we try to limit the kind of stress that they will go through, so why count the chickens before they hatch? (We will) let their actions speak for themselves,” Mr Lee told reporters before leaving for Jakarta where the Games will kick off on Saturday.
“What’s important is for them to go there, do their best and see what happens. We want them to better their (previous) performances, and we look forward to a lot of personal bests from our athletes.”
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Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu had said last month that there are no “specific” targets for the contingent, and Mr Lee added that this will take some pressure off the athletes.
“I believe there will be less pressure - the spotlight is not on them, they don’t have to see their names in the media - how many golds they are going to get,” said Mr Lee, a former national shooter who represented Singapore six times at the Asian Games and thrice at the Olympic Games.
The contingent of 265 athletes across 21 sports is Singapore’s largest at an Asian Games.
At the 2014 edition in Incheon, Team Singapore’s 223-strong contingent clinched five golds, six silvers and 14 bronze medals.
There are expectations for athletes to deliver in swimming, sailing and bowling, having won medals in these sports in past Asian Games, said Mr Lee.
“We are seeing more and more of our athletes making their way to (perform at) world levels,” he added. “These are things that are looking good for us.”
ALL GEARED UP
Singapore’s Asian Games contingent will also have to come to grips with the environment in Indonesia, with lingering pollution concerns due to haze from forest fires.
Traffic congestion in Indonesia's sprawling capital of 10 million also consistently ranks among the world's worst, although Games organisers have been trying to mitigate the issue with measures such as dedicated lanes.
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To prepare them for the journey, Team Singapore’s athletes will get a travel essential kit, which comes complete with a 3M mask, hand sanitizer, ear plugs and a neck pillow, among other things.
“There were spikes in the haze situation so these masks are a precautionary measure,” explained Mr Lee. “In the event that it (the air quality) hits certain levels, athletes can use these things depending on their level of tolerance.”
External factors aside, Mr Lee believes that the athletes are ready to compete and are happy with the guidance some of the senior athletes have provided to their less experienced counterparts.
“They have been doing their part,” he said. “I see them performing the big brother and big sister roles - this is encouraging as it helps the younger athletes settle down and I want more of the veterans to take up these kinds of roles.”