Going by age, 14-year-old local swimmer Darren Chua is still a few months short of being eligible as a competitor at this month's Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
But that will not stand in the way of the youngster being at the Nanjing Games when the second edition of the quadrennial event kicks off on Aug 16.
Omega, YOG's official timekeeper, is sending Darren to the Games on a five-day trip where he will get a front-row seat to the Opening Ceremony and sporting action.
The trip is a partnership between The Straits Times and the Swiss luxury watchmaker.
Said Darren, who will be making his first trip to China: "I was only in Primary 5 when Singapore hosted the first YOG in 2010, and I didn't watch anything then.
"I hope I can get to watch swimming when I'm in Nanjing, so that I can see how the competitors perform and learn from them."
The Secondary 2 Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student trains six days a week, devoting about 30 hours to the pool each week.
He holds the national Under-14 records for the 200 metres freestyle - having broken the 20-year-old mark held by Sng Ju Wei in March - and the 200m individual medley, his pet event.
David Lim, his coach at Swimfast Aquatic Club, said Darren possesses the potential to go far, and hopes that watching the Nanjing Games will spur his charge to make his own mark - hopefully, at the next YOG in Buenos Aires in 2018.
Said Lim: "Darren has got bags of talent that he doesn't know exists. When his body matures, and if his mind is right, he will go very far. Watching the YOG could do wonders in pointing him in that direction."
Inspiration is exactly what Omega hopes Darren will return with after the trip.
Said a spokesman from the watchmaker: "Omega has long been a supporter of sporting excellence, having served as the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games 26 times since 1932.
We have timed and measured countless record-breaking feats for more than eight decades and have observed first-hand how sport has the power to inspire.
"We know that watching the Games up close will have a great impact on Darren and will surely spur him on to achieve similar triumphs when his time comes."
This article was published on Aug 7 in The Straits Times.
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