Ng can keep sailing alive in the Games

Sailing is one of the oldest sports at the Olympics, having been in all but two of the Games' 27 programmes since 1896.

And Colin Cheng, the sailor who produced Singapore's best performance at an Olympics, hopes that Ng Ser Miang, a silver medallist in sailing at the 1969 South-east Asian Peninsular Games, will keep the sport on the programme, if he is elected president of the International Olympic Council (IOC) today.

Cheng (above) finished as the best Asian sailor in the men's Laser event at the London Olympics last year when he ended in 15th place.

There have been rumblings over the future of sailing at the Olympics, and in an interview with The New Paper yesterday, Cheng, an undergraduate at the University of New South Wales in Australia, said: "Personally, I'd ask him to keep sailing in the Olympics (if he became IOC president).

"Even though sailing is one of the sports that has always been at the Games, in the last cycle or so there have been murmurs of it being thrown out because it's not getting audiences, that it's too outdated and that it's not global enough.

"While I don't think that the IOC president is in a position to directly change much about sailing as a sport, I would be happy enough if Mr Ng can ensure it remains on the programme."

With a manifesto focusing mainly on youth, Ng will become the first Asian head of the Olympic Movement should his bid succeed.

The possibility of a Singaporean helming the IOC excites Cheng.

"If he is successful, hopefully it will raise the profile of sports in Singapore," said the 24-year-old former Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student.

"Mr Ng is definitely of solid character and while it will be a tough job, if he can slowly bring things around and help earn the IOC greater respect, then I think he would have done a terrific job.

"I also hope he can listen more to the athletes because the Olympics have become so commercialised that it seems to be more about marketing rights and money, not the sports and the men and women who compete in them."

While Singapore will celebrate if Ng gets the top job in the IOC, Cheng hoped Singaporeans will not count on the 64-year-old to lift the standard here by himself.

He said: "While it is tempting to think that Mr Ng as IOC president can change things for youth in Singapore, I am sceptical that he can influence many things here - the IOC post is just too far removed from the local sports community.

"I would think that getting youth to take up sport and look at it as a viable and attractive career would be up to someone like Mr Lawrence Wong at MCCY (Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth)."

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