Athletics captain Khoo to help team avoid speed bump

Athletics captain Khoo to help team avoid speed bump
Singapore Athletics president Tang Weng Fei (left) raises athlete Kenneth Khoo’s hand after announcing that he will be the Singapore Athletics captain for the upcoming SEA Games.

Twelve years ago, Singapore runner Kenneth Khoo made his SEA Games debut in front of a hostile crowd in Vietnam.

Until today, he still remembers shivering in the 10 deg C cold, the partisan crowd and, alas, how pressure got the better of him in that 400m event.

Said the 33-year-old: "I was too eager to impress, I went out too hard and, towards the end, my legs gave way. The crowd was also very hostile. I could even hear a bit of swearing."

It is insights like these, from taking part in four SEA Games, which the newly-appointed captain of the Singapore athletics contingent hopes to pass on to younger, less experienced team-mates.

The affable Khoo was elected captain by his colleagues yesterday at a Singapore Athletics (SA) event to unveil the team captain and present the tournament vest.

This was the first time that the captain was voted by the contingent.

Next month, Khoo will lead a squad of 74 athletes - 50 of whom will be making debuts - at the biennial meet on home soil.

Singapore will be represented in 44 of 46 scheduled track and field events.

Khoo, who will compete in the 4x400m, called on his younger team-mates to use the Games as a launchpad for their careers.

"It will be my last SEA Games but I want to keep reading about you in the papers. Let this be the start of an amazing journey.

"Hard work doesn't guarantee success... I know how it feels to be frustrated, I've been through that, and my door is always open.

"Rally your friends and relatives, and let's bring the Kallang Roar back to the National Stadium."

Track and field stars from the past such as Hamkah Afik, Glory Barnabas and K. Jayamani were also present at the event to inspire the current generation.

SA president Tang Weng Fei hopes the contingent can exceed their Myanmar haul of two golds, three silvers and three bronzes.

"I'm quietly confident that we can achieve the target. The medal prospects are training well and those with injuries have recovered," he said.

"Even if you can't win a medal, you must try to make a personal best."

National coach (sprints and hurdles) Luis Cunha, who took over last December, is also optimistic that his charges can put on a good showing on home soil.

Said the Portuguese: "They were already highly motivated to do well at the SEA Games when I first took over so my job was to push them to their limits.

"I'm confident they will clock their personal bests, and for some of them, that will be national records."

This article was first published on May 5, 2015.
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