Bigger matters beckon Ng

Singapore's top speed skater Lucas Ng completed a clean sweep yesterday at the International Skating Union (ISU) South East Asia Cup.

But the 27-year-old has his eye on more important matters, specifically next month's World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Seoul, where he will be the nation's only representative.

But before he leaves for South Korea this week - to prepare for the March 11-13 annual meet - Ng confirmed his status as the king of the rink in this region.

At the same venue where he works as a part-time coach, he comfortably strode to victory in the 1,000m at the Rink at JCube, clocking 1min 39.102sec to finish ahead of Wong De-Vin of Malaysia (1:40.656) and fellow Singaporean Miki Chong (1:48.767).

Ng had won the 500m and 1,500m races on Saturday, the first day of the two-day inaugural event, which drew 65 participants from six countries, including Australia.

While he ruled the rink over the weekend, Ng will face a far stronger field at the World Championships, where his best finish was 33rd in a field of 40 in the 500m (44.808sec) last year.

In Seoul, his aim is to clock a personal best as well as apply and fine- tune the techniques which new national coach Chun Lee Kyung has introduced into his repertoire.

He said: "I want to maintain the current level that I am at, and to get myself a better time. The World Championships are almost like an Olympic-level (competition).

"I hope to try the new techniques and strategies that have been taught to me, and see how I can use and apply them to an actual world-level competition."

With winter sports such as ice skating and ice hockey set to make their debut at the SEA Games next year in Kuala Lumpur, one would expect him to be confident of landing a gold or two given his current form. But Ng is well aware that the Games are more than 12 months away and his rivals will not be standing still in the interim.

He said: "Though this is a regional competition, all the skaters will improve also."

Still, Ng declared: "I've not reached my peak yet, and I'm striving for faster times and to improve."

His confidence comes from the appointment of South Korean four-time Olympic gold medallist and triple world champion Chun in November, which has already paid dividends. Ng set PBs in the 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m at two ISU World Cup legs in December.

"There're a lot of changes she's made to my techniques," he said. "I've improved quite a lot and achieved personal bests in a short period."

For example, Chun pointed out that there are different ways and techniques to tackle a lap, in areas such as positioning, control and speed.

Another Singaporean, Danielle Han, 25, added: "She picks out the nitty gritty - those things most people think would never affect us. For instance, she would remind us to do a full blade push instead of a toe push."

Han finished third in the women's 1,000m race yesterday in 2:10.537, behind compatriot Suvian Chua (2:01.390) and Filipino Kathryn Magno (2:00.370).

Even though Chun admitted that the sport is in its infancy here, the 40-year-old, who intends to stay here for three to four years, has a big dream for her charges.

"My final goal is to send at least one skater to the 2018 (Winter) Olympics (in Pyeongchang). It'll be a miracle," she said.

This article was first published on February 22, 2016.
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