Banking on athletics to deliver

Banking on athletics to deliver

To many, it's a no-brainer that Singapore should surpass the 1993 South-east Asia (SEA) Games haul of 50 gold medals.

But if Team Singapore are to break the 70-gold medal mark come June, the powerhouse sports must deliver.

Bowling, sailing, shooting, swimming and table tennis are once again expected to boost the gold tally for Team Singapore at this year's SEA Games, from June 5-16.

However, the Republic will also need a few surprises from other sports.

And, in that respect, athletics has the biggest room to manoeuvre in the race for surprise golds.

For there are 46 golds at stake, and chef de mission Nicholas Fang says it is the sport with the biggest room for improvement.

In its forecast of 75 gold medals for the 2015 SEA Games, The New Paper tipped just one gold medal in track and field.

But Singapore Athletics president Tang Weng Fei is hopeful of upsets come June.

While the national throwers have consistently delivered golds at the SEA Games - Zhang Guirong will be gunning for her fifth straight shot put gold - there is optimism that this year will be the runners' turn to shine on the National Stadium track come June.

"We should at least equal, if not better, our medal haul (of two golds, three silvers, three bronzes) from the Myanmar SEA Games (in 2013)," Tang told TNP.

"There is reason to be optimistic about our sprinters. The 4x100m men's team lost to Thailand in Myanmar but, with home support this time round, you never know.

"There's also Shanti (Pereira) in the women's 100m and 200m, and the marathoners (Soh Rui Yong and Ashley Liew).

"Shanti has only the Thai runner to beat, now that the Vietnamese girl (who won gold in Myanmar) has retired.

"The athletes are happy with their progress, they are not struggling, which is important.

"If everyone stays healthy, we have a good chance."

The Republic's athletes finished the two-day Singapore Open Track and Field Championships at the National Stadium last month with three golds, six silvers and 15 bronzes, along with three new national marks.

They finished sixth in the overall team standings, with Indonesia taking top honours with nine golds.

The athletes will have a final tune-up before the home Games at the Taiwan Open next month in Taipei.

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