Sport Singapore's Lim: Respect your opponents
Lim says 75 golds possible for Team Singapore, but warns that regional athletes are set for battle
Sport Singapore's chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin is an effusive man.
He is bold and confident - as an athlete, he was part of the water polo teams that won six consecutive South-east Asia (SEA) Games gold medals from 1985 to 1995.
But, when it comes to making gold-medal predictions for Team Singapore at the 28th Games here from June 5 to 16, he is restrained.
Addressing The New Paper's prediction of a record-shattering haul of 75 gold medals by the 748-strong contingent at the Games, Lim, the chairman of the organising committee, said: "I think an aspiration like 75 gold medals... well, I hope Team Singapore feel that way.
"It is doable, of course it is. And I hope you're right.
"(But) I am very cautious about not respecting our opponents. We have recently gone out to film some of the South-east Asian athletes training, and I can tell you, they are dead serious.
"The Thai basketball team were not at (last week's) SEABA championships, because they are dead serious about their preparations.
"So while I would hope that Team Singapore share the same 75-gold medal aspiration, I would say respect your opponents and work hard for the remaining weeks."
Yesterday, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) finalised the list of athletes representing Singapore at this Games.
Some 748 athletes will compete across 36 sports - far surpassing the previous record of 483 in 1993, also on home soil.
For Team Singapore to go well past the record 50 golds achieved 22 years ago, the powerhouse sports must deliver.
Sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis and bowling are once again expected to boost the gold tally.
However, the Republic will also need a few surprises from other sports.
In that respect, athletics - with 46 golds on offer - will be in the spotlight.
From the 1960 to the '70s, track and field could be counted on for a clutch of golds, with names like C Kunalan, Chee Swee Lee, Heather Merican and Noor Azahar to count on.
But the sport has suffered for a long time now, and there is a real fear the National Stadium at the Sports Hub will witness very little success from the Republic's team of 74 athletes.
Lim is hoping for a few inspired performances.
"I think track and field has always been an untapped potential for us," he said.
"For many years, it sort of managed to get away from being more scrutinised because of (thrower) James Wong and (Zhang Guirong), who will give you your two gold medals.
"For this SEA Games, we know we're not going to dominate at the National Stadium, but we're hoping for a few inspired performances. When we think about the 100m or 200m, the difference between gold and silver is a sub-second.
"The future of track and field is bright, especially when you look at the kind of progress athletes like (marathoner) Soh Rui Yong, who broke a record (10,000m race, in June last year) that stood for years."
Lim also drew on Soh, who is based in Oregon, US, as an example of disciplined training - something which he believes all athletes should adhere to.
"(Soh) wrote a very good reflective piece while running in Oregon.
"He said in every training session, you have to hold back the urge to race," Lim said.
"Because if you keep racing, you will not have enough in reserve, and in spirit, to race that big race on the day.
"High-performance sport is having that discipline to stick to your plan, making adjustments where you need to and not about how you feel.
"I think many of our opponents at the SEA Games are practising that discipline.
"So, yes, 75 golds is doable - but we must not disrespect our opponents because they are working very hard."