SINGAPORE - As a swimmer representing Singapore in the past, Mark Chay often wondered what the chef de mission (CDM) did.
He will soon find out what the role entails, when he leads the Republic's athletes to the Youth Olympic Games (YOG)in Nanjing, China, in August.
"It is going to be interesting... it's about ensuring that the welfare of the athletes is taken care of and, hopefully, they can be good ambassadors of the sport," said the 2000 and 2004 Olympian, who was appointed the CDM for the 2014 YOG by the Singapore National Olympic Council last Sunday.
"I hope they will immerse themselves in the spirit of the Games to do well for Singapore and enjoy the enriching cultural and education programmes," added the former Sportsboy and Sportsman of the Year winner.
At 32, Chay is possibly the country's youngest CDM appointed by the SNOC for a major Games and follows the trend of younger former athletes being tasked to lead Team Singapore at the YOG or the Asian Youth Games (AYG).
The 2009 AYG here was helmed by former national shooter Lee Wung Yew, then 42, while the inaugural YOG here was led by thrower James Wong, 41.
Former paddler Tan Paey Fern, 39, served as the CDM for the Nanjing AYG last year.
In recent times, SNOC bigwigs such as vice-presidents Tan Eng Liang, Annabel Pennefather and Low Teo Ping, as well as member Jessie Phua have helmed the Singapore contingents at the various major events such as the South-east Asia Games and the Olympics.
After retiring from competitive swimming in 2006, Chay worked at the Singapore Swimming Association and then was appointed the chief executive officer of the Singapore Hockey Federation.
The chief executive officer of the Coleman College, a private educational institution, is currently the assistant honorary secretary of Olympians Singapore.
Asked if the CDM role would lead to a bigger involvement in the local sports scene in future, he said: "I hope so, sports has given me so much and it is my responsibility to give back to the next generation.
"There is a lot of talent out there and, hopefully, some of them will also come back as ambassadors or administrators in future."
Sailor Cecilia Low was also appointed as a Young Ambassador of the YOG last Sunday.
The 23-year-old former world champion will work with Chay to promote the YOG and generate a pleasant and stimulating atmosphere in the team, both leading up to the Games and during the event.
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