Seeking a boost in China

SINGAPORE - No Singaporean has won the SEA Games 100m sprint gold since 1969.

Having come close to achieving that feat two years ago, Gary Yeo is eager to end the Republic's barren run in the event at this year's edition in December in Myanmar.

Which is why the 27-year-old silver-medallist at the 2011 Games in Palembang had flown to Beijing five days ago to embark on a training stint with renowned Chinese coach Li Qing.

The latter is the trainer of rising star Zhang Peimeng, who set the Chinese 100m national record of 10.00sec in August and is touted as his country's next big track star after hurdler Liu Xiang.

Yeo is training with the Qinghua University track squad, which Li coaches, until the end of the month, when he hopes to return home with new techniques and renewed vigour to clinch that elusive gold.

First of all, however, he has to fully recover from a left hamstring injury, which he suffered during July's Asian Athletics Championships in India.

While doctors have given him the green light to start training, the sprinter still feels a niggling pain at times.

He said: "It's cool here and I am still acclimatising but I feel good and more focused in training. In Singapore, I was more concerned and bothered by the injury.

"Coach Li told me to be patient with this injury and also to improve on my fitness first."

Indeed, Li has kept Yeo away from any sprinting exercises since the Singaporean's arrival, preferring for him to work on core-strength exercises in the belief that they will help sustain his top speed during a 100m race.

Apart from Zhang, Li's other sprinters in the squad clock between 10.4 and 10.8, which is within Yeo's personal best of 10.44 achieved in December last year.

The timing is an improvement from the 10.46 he clocked for silver in Palembang but is still some way off Indonesian Franklin Burumi's gold mark of 10.37.

Singapore Athletic Association president Tang Weng Fei hopes that the training stint, which is funded by the Singapore Sports Institute, will be the insipiration that Yeo needs.

He said: "With his niggling injury, I think he really needed a change of environment. I hope he improves and if he can rediscover his form, he will do well."

With two months to go before the Dec 11-22 Games in Myanmar begins, Yeo is raring to make a splash in Naypyidaw, both in the 100m and 4x100m relay.

Two years ago, he anchored the Singapore team who finished together with Indonesia in 39.91sec.

The hosts were later judged to have won the gold by a shoulder.

That painful memory is not lost on Yeo, the team captain.

He said: "My other hope for the SEA Games is to lead the relay team to victory."

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