SINGAPORE — Nothing but gold.
That is what Singapore’s synchronised swimmers are targeting next month at the South-east Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, where they will compete in five events.
The Republic bagged their first-ever golds in the team and free combination categories in 2015 on home soil, after seeing Malaysia sweep all seven titles on offer in 2001 and 2011, the only other times when the sport was featured at the Games.
Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) vice-president for synchronised swimming, Mr Philip Lee, had previously set a three-gold aim and national head coach Maryna Tsimashenka, who has been in charge for eight years, believes the team will deliver even with Malaysia having home advantage.
“We are ready,” she declared to TODAY. “But we all know how important judges are.
“If we are only a little bit stronger than Malaysia, we have less chance, but if the gap is bigger, we have more of a chance, and I think our girls are technically better.”
Recent results would have boosted Singapore’s morale.
They finished higher than Malaysia at all four events that both countries competed in at March’s French Open, though it was more even at the Japan Open with three out of six events.
Singapore have also finished higher than their Causeway rivals in two events at the ongoing Fina World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, with two more to come.
Assistant coach Katsiaryana Kulpo, who has helped the team for the past five years, said: “The meet is a good opportunity to check where we are.”
Singapore can count on the expertise of consultant Julie Sauve, engaged by the SSA last April, as they navigate the world championships and also the SEA Games.
“Win,” the Canadian swiftly responded when asked about the SEA Games. “Only gold.”
The 64-year-old previously coached her home nation, one of the world’s powerhouses in the sport, for 25 years and believes it is possible for Singaporeans to juggle training and studies to excel.
“If my girls can get a PhD and still compete at an Olympic level at the same time, why can’t secondary school students do it in Singapore?” she said. TEO TENG KIAT