Sailing: Cheng wins a Laser spot for S'pore at 2016 Olympics

Sailing: Cheng wins a Laser spot for S'pore at 2016 Olympics
Colin Cheng is the first Singaporean sailor to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Singapore will have a sailor doing battle in the men's Laser - One Person Dinghy event at the 2016 Rio Olympics, after Colin Cheng won qualification for the nation at the Santander 2014 ISAF (International Sailing Federation) Sailing World Championships in Spain yesterday.

This is the first boat class Singapore have qualified for at the 2016 Olympics.

The Laser fleets concluded the qualification series after two days of racing over four races.

With 50 per cent of Rio's sailing competition spots available at the event, the qualification series - which featured 76 nations - decided the 23 Laser places on offer.

Twenty-four nations made up the 49-boat Santander 2014 Laser event, with Brazil automatically receiving a spot as hosts.

Cheng finished 27th out of 147 sailors with a net score of 30.

In the national classifications, Singapore were ranked 15th, with Australia dominating the top 20 with three sailors.

Brazil's Robert Scheidt finished top with six points.

The fleet has now been split into gold, silver and bronze classes, with a six-race final series and a double-points medal race following that. All races are scheduled for Thursday.

Cheng is in the gold fleet, while teammate Scott Glen Sydney, who finished 51st overall with a score of 43, is clustered in the silver fleet.

On the women's side, Singapore's Elizabeth Yin is locked in battle in the Laser Radial event.

At press time, Yin, the 2008 Laser 4.7 world champion, occupied the final qualifying spot in the 120-boat Laser Radial fleet.

Two Singaporean pairs- Griselda Khng and Sara Tan, and Dawn Liu and Joan Poh - will compete in the 49erFX class today.

HAPPY

Singapore Sailing chief executive Tan Wearn Haw is happy with the early qualification.

He said: "It's business as usual. Both Colin and Elizabeth are in the second stage of their eight-year Olympic cycle.

"They competed at the 2012 London Olympics and it's good see them on track for 2016."

Tan revealed that Singapore Sailing will decide which sailors will fly the flag in Rio six months before the 2016 Games.

"It will be through a nomination process; the best sailors will go," he said.

"It's not just about one sailor, but having a strong group of them to provide competition for each other.

"It's very important we keep as many sailors engaged and giving their best right up to the Games."

Cheng, 24, was the best Asian sailor in the Laser class at the 2012 Olympic Games, finishing 15th out of a fleet of 49 boats.

He would have been one of the favourites at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea - which officially opens on Friday - but he opted not to compete there, instead deciding to try and qualify for the Olympics at the world championships in Spain.

The gamble has paid off for the nanotechnology undergraduate at Sydney's University of New South Wales.

He has two Asian Games medals in his collection - one gold (2006 Laser Radial) and one silver (2010 Laser).

aakasim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sep 15, 2014.
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