No bike, no worry, Singapore cycling still needs you

No bike, no worry, Singapore cycling still needs you
HOP ON: Anyone who thinks he or she is good enough is welcome to try out to be part of the national team (right). Vincent Ang (left) at the SEA Games 2015, Singapore.
PHOTO: Vincent Ang

The Singapore Cycling Federation (SCF) is throwing its doors to the national road cycling team wide open.

Just about anyone who thinks he or she is good enough to follow in the footsteps of 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games bronze medallists, Vincent Ang and Dinah Chan, is welcome to try out.

And — this is no joke — you don’t even have to own a bike.

To be launched next month, the selection trials will be split into two key phases leading up to the 2017 SEA Games and the Asian Continental Championships, but have the Commonwealth Games in 2018 as the target further in the distance.

It starts with a three-month application period, after which kicks in phase one of selection.

Athletes will have their three-principle energy systems — neuromuscular, aerobic and anaerobic — tested, then profiled and given ratings based on power, the key standard measurement that the sport utilises.

After the SCF selection committee sits down and picks the squad, it will begin training and competing.

Phase two is a camp that will focus on teamwork and mental strength before the final cut is made ahead of the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur next year.

While such methods have been used in the selection of junior cyclists in the past, this is the first time that the SCF will utilise this for the senior level, leading up to specific major competitions.

“We want to revamp our national squad, while also building a bigger pool of cyclists and, hopefully through this, find more Vincent Angs and Dinah Chans as well as the people in the team to support those guys to a medal,” said SCF sport and technical manager Samuel Yang.

“It’s going to be very inclusive, and anyone aged 17 and above, is a Singaporean or a Permanent Resident looking to gain citizenship can try out, and they don’t even need to own a bike.”

Yang revealed that while the road national squad were made up of some 20 cyclists, the SCF is hoping to put together a team of some 30 riders this time.

Current national riders will also have to subject themselves to this system if they wish to represent the Republic at the 2017 SEA Games and beyond.

While in the past the SCF has chosen its athletes based on performances in competition, this selection method is not uncommon in the cycling world.

“This method is used across the world, and there are a couple of reasons we’ve gone this way. Firstly, this is fair, and includes cyclists who don’t compete in big events,” said SCF head coach Adrian Ng.

“Skills can be learnt, but first we want to look at a cyclist’s engine. And because the major cycling teams are using this protocol of talent identification, after a few years of collecting data, we can benchmark our cyclists against the world’s best.”

Ng asserts that the second phase of the selection is vital to performance in competitions.

He said: “We’ve learnt lessons from the 2015 SEA Games... where the chain of command was not stuck to. Riders were perhaps too individualistic, tactically speaking, and that cost us.

“That’s why phase two will focus on teamwork.”

While this will kick off with road cycling, the SCF is looking at getting the other disciplines of mountain bike and BMX to study the potential of implementing a similar structured talent identification process.

SCF general manager Mahipal Singh revealed that cycling has been inspired by local administrators running sports, the likes of gymnastics, canoeing and fencing, that have implemented structures and processes that have led to results in the sporting arena.

He said: “This step-by-step bottom-up approach to talent identification is an enhancement to our selection process, and is what the major sports are doing.

“And if we hit our process and system goals, the outcome —medals — will come.”

shamiro@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on February 24, 2016.
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