SINGAPORE - In pursuit of speed and glory on home soil at next June's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Singapore, national sprinter Gary Yeo is headed for the Land of the Rising Sun.
The 28-year-old, who won silver in the 100m at the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang, Indonesia, will leave on Saturday for a month-long stint in Japan - first Osaka, then Tokyo - as he plots to reach his peak in 2015.
His stint is funded by The Final Push, a Sport Singapore scheme introduced in June designed to give potential medallists the extra boost they need as Singapore looks to break its record 50-gold haul set at the 1993 SEA Games.
Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) chief Tang Weng Fei said: "Hopefully this training stint in Japan, together with some changes to his training schedule once he comes back, can take him to another level.
"We're hoping he can surprise next year at the SEA Games."
Gold in the men's 100m and 200m events is a tough proposition.
Thai speed demon Jirapong Meenapra is expected to be the favourite again at next year's SEA Games.
The 21-year-old won both events at the Myanmar Games last December and recently also clocked a new personal best of 10.31 seconds.
That time is 0.06sec quicker than Singapore's national record of 10.37, set by U K Shyam in 2001.
Yeo's personal best is 10.44.
But he is focused only on getting his preparation for the SEA Games right.
Osaka and Tokyo will be familiar training venues for Yeo, as he spent three weeks there in June 2012, as part of his final tune-up ahead of the London Olympics later that year.
"It's the same training group, but with different objectives this time," he told The New Paper yesterday.
"This is more reconditioning and getting my fitness levels up, whereas the last time round, it was more of sparring with other sprinters and getting my 100m rhythm up.
"This time it's about laying the foundation before I come back and work on my speed training."
Once back in Singapore, Yeo will work with new national coach for sprints and hurdles, Portuguese Luis Cunha, who was unveiled by the SAA last Friday.
The duo could be headed overseas again, next March.
The national men and women's 4x100m relay teams have been invited to Sydney, Australia, for an International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF)-sanctioned competition which gives nations an opportunity to qualify for the World Relays Championship next May and World Track and Field Championships in August.
Said Tang: "The trip to Australia will be a good chance for our sprinters to bond with Luis.
"Plus it's good timing with the SEA Games just a couple of months away.
"But this is just my recommendation. The training and selection committee, together with Luis, have to decide if we will go."
This article was first published on December 4, 2014.
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