Even as the euphoria from Bernie Chin and Samantha Yom's golden triumphs at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing lingers, Singapore's next wave of sailors are ready to surge forward at the Incheon Asian Games.
Raynn Kwok, 12, may not have taken his PSLE yet but, next month, he will test his skills against the best Optimist sailors on the continent.
The St Hilda's Primary School pupil is the youngest member of a 17-strong contingent announced yesterday by the Singapore Sailing Federation.
Raynn is the latest to roll off its conveyor belt of talent, which already boasts world champions in 420 pair Loh Jia Yi, 16, and Jonathan Yeo, 18, as well as world Under-18 420 champions Savannah Siew and Kimberly Lim.
Raynn beat boys three years older than him to secure the solitary Asian Games spot.
Said the bespectacled boy who started sailing at seven: "Bernie and Samantha's wins are really inspiring.
"They make me want to train harder and do well and I want to stay as long as I can in the sport."
He was also Team Singapore's youngest competitor at last year's SEA Games in Myanmar, where he was part of a team of five who won a silver in the Optimist Team Racing.
Terence Koh, SingaporeSailing's head of high performance, said: "Raynn's really fast. He's part of a very young squad we are sending, and with youth sometimes there's less fear. Maybe that is a good thing. Let's see."
Raynn is part of a strong line-up tasked to regain Singapore's position as Asia's top sailing nation, an accolade they held at the Asian Games in 2006 when they bagged five golds, three silvers and two bronzes.
Four years later in Guangzhou, they earned two golds, two silvers and four bronzes, and finished overall fourth.
SingaporeSailing adviser Peter Lim issued a rallying cry to the team yesterday, saying: "Go for gold. The Asian Games is the pinnacle of sailing in Asia, and has to be regarded as a pathway to the Olympics.
"Though we have two Youth Olympic gold medals for Singapore, we do want to start getting gold medals at the Summer Olympics.
SingaporeSailing general manager Chung Pei Ming added: "We always try to match the previous performance so we'll do our best to achieve that."
One sailor who has her sights set on a podium finish is 2008 Laser 4.7 world champion Elizabeth Yin who has been training full-time since January.
The 23-year-old said: "I've been able to put in twice the time as compared to when I was schooling, and I can certainly feel myself getting faster and better."
At yesterday's event, the sailors were each presented with a watch from Seiko, the federation's official timekeeper.
The article was first published on August 30, 2014
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