SINGAPORE: Singapore will send five speed skaters to the Special Olympics World Winter Games for the first time. An Olympic—sized rink set—up in 2012 has helped them prepare for the week—long games in South Korea in late January.
The five intellectually disabled athletes have come a long way since they took to the ice in June 2012.
They are being coached by national speed skater Lucas Ng, and are ready to do Singapore proud —— though no targets have been set.
One of the speed skaters, Salbiah Bte Zakaria, said: "We got two training (regimes) —— one is off the ice and one is on ice. Off the ice, we normally jog around and we do light warm—up (exercises). When we are on the ice in skates, we do ten laps, fast ones."
The early morning training sessions on weekends and a steep learning curve have only whetted their appetite for the sport. The five athletes have enjoyed the experience and want to continue skating even after the games as it has helped them develop as individuals.
For now it is skating and floor hockey, but Special Olympics Singapore wants to include more sports in future.
Teo—Koh Sock Miang, president of Special Olympics Singapore, said: "There are potentially two sports that we are looking at for the next World Winter Games. Floorball is being introduced as a demonstration sport.
"The other interesting one is snow shoeing —— that is a sport that we can probably look at. Some of the countries in the Asia—Pacific region that have no snow and no ice, they actually train on the sand."
Joining the skaters are fifteen other athletes representing the Republic in floor hockey. The hockey team competed in the 2005 edition of the Special Olympics World Winter Games. The Singapore athletes depart on January 25, four days before the Special Olympics starts.
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