Great expectations for S'pore SEA Games participants

SINGAPORE - One's a multi-time SEA Games champion, one's battling an injury as she seeks to redeem herself, while the third is just eager to make an impression.

But swimmer Amanda Lim, shooter Aqilah Sudhir and sailor Darren Choy all have one common foe at the SEA Games in Myanmar next month - the weight of expectation on their shoulders.

At the sidelines of a send-off ceremony for the Singapore Sports School's student-athletes and alumni bound for Myanmar, the trio spoke about their preparations for the biennial event.

Having won seven gold medals in the last two editions of the SEA Games, many will be expecting Amanda to add to her tally next month.

The 20-year-old, who holds the national and SEA Games records in the 50m freestyle, acknowledges the pressure.

"It's my fourth SEA Games and I've won golds before, so naturally people will expect me to win again this year," she said.

"For me, though, I just try to beat myself. I focus on that, so I don't think so much about the pressure and also as a way to motivate myself to train harder and keep my record and my gold (in the 50m freestyle)."

Shooter Aqilah, meanwhile, wants to prove herself after failing to finish among the medals in Palembang in 2011.

The 22-year-old certainly has the ability - she won the 50m rifle three positions at the 2010 Commonwealth Games - but is nursing an injury to her left wrist.

Injury comeback

She said: "I'm not really thinking about the pressure or any targets, because I'm focused on recovering from my injury.

"This year, there's only one shooting event (the 50m rifle prone) and it's one that requires you to rest on your wrist, so it's difficult for me.

"But of course I want to do my country proud and win something."

For Sailor Darren, who is making his second appearance in the SEA Games but his first in the Olympic-class 470, it's about stepping up.

He has proven himself in other classes - he was crowned world champion in the Byte CII class in 2009 and 2010, and also won the same event at the 2009 Asian Youth Games - but now wants to show he can swim with the big boys.

Of the expectations to come home with a medal, the 19-year-old said: "The pressure can be a bit tough, but we have the psychologists to help us at the competition.

"Basically, we just have to relax and not think about it."

Choy added that training under new Israeli coach Gideon Kliger will put Singapore's sailors in good stead in Myanmar.

Said the teenager: "He (Kliger) has got a lot of experience in the 470 - he used to compete himself and was among the world's top 10 sailors for a very long time - so I'm sure he will come up with the right plan to prepare us and help us do our best.

"And, even though it's my first time competing in the 470, I'm feeling quite positive right now.

"I haven't seen the level of competition in the region but I think we stand a good chance to do well."

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