Athletics: Coach believes pole vaulters can qualify for Rio Olympics 2016

Athletics: Coach believes pole vaulters can qualify for Rio Olympics 2016

He trains two young pole vaulters who have been making headlines over the last few months with their tussle to set new national records.

Both Sean Lim and Chan Sheng Yao have raised the excitement level in Singapore track and field but the pair, along with coach David Yeo, have had to get used to hearing snide remarks after every new mark set.

When 20-year-old Lim broke the men's national record with a 4.90m effort last month, a few snipers on social media pointed to the gulf in standard between Singapore's pole vault men and those at international level - the world record is 6.16m.

Some even mocked the achievement, congratulating Lim for doing enough to win a medal in the women's event at the Olympics.

Yeo takes it all in his stride.

He has high hopes for Lim and 18-year-old Chan.

Lim made history on Sunday when he became the first Singaporean to go above 5 metre, setting a new national record of 5.01m at the Track and Field Series at Bukit Gombak Stadium.

He broke Chan's record of 4.91m, set one week after his 4.90m effort.

Earlier in the week, The New Paper visited Yeo at one of his training sessions at Hwa Chong Institution and found out that the coach believes he is on course to fulfilling a dream.

"When I started coaching pole vault 15 years ago, I wanted to have an athlete reach the Olympics," Yeo said, as he kept a watchful eye on his two prodigies.

"I think Sean and Sheng Yao can be the ones."

The qualifying mark for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is 5.55m - 54cm higher than Lim's new national record.

Yeo says the two Singaporeans have the talent to reach the mark, which also make them South-east Asia's (SEA) top jumpers.

Said the coach: "After the amount of time I've studied the event inside-out and how it works mechanically, I think they can do it."

Pointing at 1.76m-tall Frenchman Renaud Lavillanie, who broke 1.88m-tall Sergey Bubka's 20-year-old world record with a new mark of 6.16m last year, Yeo feels vindicated, after arguing for some time that small jumpers can scale great heights.

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