Athletes aim to do Singapore proud in Special Winter Olympics
By Koh Yizhe/Red Sports
*Scape, Sunday, January 20, 2013 — Salbiah Bte Zakaria may have only six months of training, but she is determined to get Singapore a medal.
The 18-year-old short track speed skater is among 20 athletes who will don Singapore’s colors as they head to Pyeongchang, Korea, for the 2013 Special Winter Olympics, to be held from January 29th to February 5th, 2013.
Into its 10th edition, the Special Winter Olympics is a multi-sport tournament where children and adults with intellectual disabilities compete in Olympic-type sports. It is one of the events on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) calendar.
Singapore will be represented in two of the eight sports featured at the Games. Floor hockey, which is adapted from ice hockey and played on wooden flooring, will have 15 Singaporean athletes, while short track speed skating, a sport of speed and strategy on an 111-meter ice circuit, will feature five Singaporean representatives.
It will be a young team heading to Korea, with the average age of the floor hockey team just 18 years while the speed skating team consist of players with an average age of 16 years.
Led by Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang, the president of Special Olympics Singapore, the 2013 contingent will be just the second time Singapore is sending a team to the Special Winter Olympics. The first batch of floor hockey players was sent eight years ago to the 2005 Games in Japan.
This will be the first time short track speed skating is making its debut in a major competition after the Singapore Ice Skating Association (SISA) was set up in 1988.
“I’m very happy and proud to be representing Singapore,” said Salbiah, who is also the captain of the Special Olympics women’s football team.
“I picked up speed skating just six months ago and it has been challenging for me. The speed of the sport is very fast, but hopefully I’ll be able to get a medal for Singapore,” added Salbiah.
Waking up early and traveling the distance from MacPherson to the training venue at Jcube in Jurong three times a week may be a challenge for some, but not for Salbiah.
“My house is quite far away and I have to wake up early, but it is okay because I love the sport that I’m doing. Training is alright too, though this period is very busy for us. The entire experience is good and I’m learning from it,” explained Salbiah.
For many of them, it will be their first time traveling out of the country or experiencing cold weather. With Singapore being a tropical country with no snow, acclimatizing to the environment might be a challenge for some.
The athletes went through training programs to get them used to the temperatures that they will be competing in.
This is a cause of concern for Melo Bte Taib, Salbiah’s mother, who is worried about her child’s well-being in the cold climate.
“I’m very proud of her, though I’m quite worried,” said Melo.
“It is the first time that she is going to another country on her own and on top of that, the weather there is very different. I cannot go along because I cannot take the cold, but I’ll be calling her every single night and making sure she brings hot Milo there!” added Melo.
“They have been training so hard to represent Singapore. She always talks about bringing a medal back for Singapore and for me, but I just tell her to do her best,” added Salbiah’s mother.
For Ahmad Syahir bin Zabidi, a defender in the floor hockey team, he is determine not to let the weather prevent him from bringing a medal home.
“This is my first time going to another country, but I’m ready for the cold weather,” declared the 21-year-old.
“I want to make Singapore proud and bring back a medal. As a defender, I have been trained to protect my goal and I will do my best to do that,” added Syahir.
The team left for Korea on Friday, January 25th, and will return after the Games on Wednesday, February 6.
Singapore’s Special Winter Olympics athletes (Name, age)
Ahmad Syahir bin Zabidi, 21
Lah De Shun Derrick, 22
Muhamad Kaswirah bin Amdan, 20
Muhammad Ezanee Bin Md Azman, 18
Lin Weiqiang, 16
Lim WeiLeong, 15
Isaiah Jevan s/o Daniel, 17
Muhamad Halery Bin Jasmani, 17
Chua Zheng Shuang Ivan, 15
Muhammad Azari Bin Aziz, 14
Vignesan s/o Rahman, 17
Michael Yew Yew Weng, 16
Muhammad Azmi Bin Mohamad Amir, 17
Saiyed Muhammad bin Mohaiyadeen Abdul Kader Sahib, 25
Muhammad Ramadhan bin Selamat, 22
Short Track Speed Skating
Nurul Aznizah Bte Azni, 16
Nurul Atikah Bte Azni, 14
Salbiah Bte Zakaria, 18
Suhairi Bin Suhani, 16
Phil Anthony Labramonte Razo, 14