Sports Institute eyes more top talent

Sports Institute eyes more top talent
Swimmer Kevin Cordes is in town to ramp up his training for the upcoming swimming World Championships and the Rio 2016 Olympics by competing in the 11th Singapore National Swimming Championships.

After the success of the Republic's athletes at the recent SEA Games, the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) has come into focus.

While it will open its doors to foreign athletes who want to train here, the focus will always be on developing local athletes and improving the Republic's sports eco-system, according to Bob Gambardella, chief of the SSI.

Gambardella made the point at a media session to introduce American breaststroke specialist Kevin Cordes yesterday at the Singapore Sports Hub.

He pointed out that other foreign teams have made Singapore their short-term training base in the past - like the US swim team ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

With the completion of the Sports Hub last year and the relocation of the SSI to the $1.33m billion facility, Gambardella says the aim is to host more foreign athletes and have them also train and interact with, and inspire, local athletes and coaches.

The American revealed that he was part of a group from the continent that formed the Association of Sports Institutes in Asia recently - Hong Kong, Japan, the Aspire Academy in Qatar and Singapore are the members - and the aim is to share infrastructure, facilities and knowledge, as well as giving coaches and athletes the opportunity to train at different facilities.

The American says they plan to expand the association to include other Olympic Council of Asia countries.

While he is open to hosting athletes from less developed countries in the name of Olympic solidarity, the focus will be on how these visiting athletes can also benefit Singapore sport.

He said: "We want to be very strategic, we don't want to open our door to just anyone... the question is how this can help us as a country, whether it be a sport, or a discipline within a sport."


National swimming coach Sergio Lopez pointed out that top American breaststroke specialist Cordes has already had a positive influence at the National Training Centre in the three weeks he's been here.

"You can see younger swimmers like Samuel Khoo who are trying to imitate Kevin's strokes, trying to keep up with him in training and going faster than they should as a result," said the Spaniard.

"It is one thing for me to teach the swimmers and change their mindset to one where we can be among the best in the world, that we can win medals at the Olympics," added Lopez.

"But having someone like Kevin, who has the commitment to train at this level with us, helps the swimmers start to think that way.

"It has to happen from within, you cannot teach these moments."

This article was first published on June 30, 2015.
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