After a long wait, this Singaporean sailor is ready to compete with the best at the Olympics


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SINGAPORE: At sea, it is often only the wind, the water and the waiting.

The clock is ticking, the boats are pitching and the sailors are at a standstill. They are waiting, because they need the circumstances to be in their favor.

For other athletes, patience is a virtue. But for sailors, it is a necessity.

“It’s probably the only sport (competitors) have to wait this long,” said Ryan Lo, 24.

Too still? You are told to wait. Too much wind ? You are told to wait.

Sometimes on the water. Other times on earth.

During a competition in Spain, Lo spent a total of 11 hours on the water from launch until his return to shore. All he could time was a run in the time he could have taken for three.

“There are a lot of things that can delay our races,” he added with a laugh. “There are cases where we wait all day and nothing happens. “

But for Lo, waiting for hours is second nature, especially since he has been waiting for the biggest race of his life for much longer.

A FAMILY MATTER

One of Lo’s earliest memories of the sport was being at sea with his family. This boat was run by his half-sister Man Yi.

“I don’t really remember how I felt when I started to sail. (But) I remember going on my sister’s boat when I was young… I remember it was pretty fun, ”Lo recalls.

The soft-spoken Lo started playing the sport at the age of seven as it was offered as an extracurricular activity (CCA) at his elementary school. At that time, his siblings were already sailing competitively.

“The first year was pretty much just learning the basics… and then the second year, if I’m not mistaken, I wasn’t that much into sailing,” he said.

“So I did other stuff like table tennis, the Chinese orchestra – I sure didn’t like that – and a few other sports.”

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But it was the taste for competition that made him come back.

“It wasn’t until I started competing in third primary that I started to really enjoy it and get more into sailing,” he explained.

“Since then, I guess you can tell I’ve never looked back, and just kept going.”

By the time he was in primary school, Lo was already representing Singapore at overseas competitions in the Optimist class, where a small dinghy is used by the children.

Man Yi, who also won gold in the Laser Radial event at the 2005 SEA Games, and Lo’s half-brother Jun Hao, who won silver at the 2007 SEA Games, inspired Lo to can one day compete at the highest level.

“I was really inspired to follow in their footsteps and (they) were my references and I was hoping to repeat similar goals at the SEA Games,” Lo said.

“I went through what they went through, so they understand how it is and what it feels like. “

Singaporean sailor Ryan Lo won gold in the men’s laser standard at the SEA Games on December 7, 2019 (Photo: SNOC)

Man Yi would later represent Singapore at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“I’m sure I was pretty proud (of her). I feel like I told my friends about it, but at that age I probably didn’t really understand the meaning.

“The weight of all these events, the prestige, it only really started for me at a later stage in my teenage life.”

At the age of 13, Lo competed in his first Asian Games, winning a bronze medal in the Boys’ Optimist competition.

“Back then we had a good Optimist team, a good setup and we were very serious… in terms of approaching training and competing compared to other people from other countries our age and other sailors, ”Lo recalled.

“For us, it wasn’t so much about having fun… and more about trying to attend events and doing well and performing… We expected us to play what we were capable of at the time. ‘time.”

As Lo got older, the biggest challenge was the transition to adulthood.

“The transition from youth to senior is a really big leap for everyone, and I felt like I had to start over (every time), because you have guys that are 10, 20 years older than you who compete at the same level, ”he said. added.

PRIVATE RYAN TRAINING

His time in National Service (NS) created new challenges, which he successfully overcome.

While most of the soldiers at Camp Sembawang may have dreamed of going out on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays had a different meaning for Private Ryan Lo.

It was time for him to get out on the water.

It was because he had set a goal before enlisting – he would try to do Tokyo 2020.

“During NS I was already training as much as I could. So my campaign started already in 2016 when I joined the army, ”explained Lo, who was an amphibious vehicle technician when he was in the military.

“I went through NS and tried to do everything I could outside of NS to improve in areas I could control to help my canopy. So that once my NS is finished, I can be in the best possible shape.

Workouts almost every day of the week were vital for her to get in shape and work out in the gym, with weekends reserved for workouts on the water.

Ryan lo

Ryan Lo after taking bronze at the 2018 Asian Games (Photo: Sport Singapore / Feline Lim)

“We would have normal working hours like 7:30 am to 5:30 pm or 6:00 am. And then after I booked I would go straight to the Sports Institute (Singapore), then I would do my gym or my cardio”, se he remembers.

The start was not always easy.

“There were times when I got frustrated – a couple of times… and a little depressed to see other sailors that I was competing with in my age group move up (to the next level) and compete with the other guys. Seeing other sailors competing all over the world, when I was at home in Singapore and was unable to compete, “Lo recalls.

“But I knew what my goal was, which was the Olympics, and I just tried to do whatever I could.”

To further strengthen his preparations, Lo decided to postpone his two-year university studies until the Olympic Games.

“I had a lot of catching up to do… I didn’t really have to think about it – I knew I had to focus full time on sailing, on my Olympic campaign, if I wanted to have the chance to qualify, “he explained.

“It was a no-brainer for me to take the two years after NS to focus full time on Tokyo, with the intention of starting my university right after Tokyo 2020.”

After completing his NS in July 2018, Lo’s first chance to qualify for Tokyo was at the World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. But he was only able to finish 79th.

Then came the Asian Games later that year. Lo clinched a bronze medal but failed to clinch the only qualifying spot for the Olympics.

“I knew I could have finished better than what I did, but that’s how it is.”

After the 2019 World Championships in Japan where he failed to reach the standard again, Lo had another qualifying stroke – the Asian Sailing Championships in March 2020.

However, the competition has been postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Knowing that you still didn’t qualify, the stress of trying to qualify, it (is) lingering in your mind… It wasn’t a good feeling to have,” Lo said.

READ: Sailing: Singaporeans Ryan Lo and Amanda Ng advance to Tokyo Olympics after wins at Mussanah Open

“It was very uncertain… We didn’t even know it would be April – they confirmed that only three weeks ago, no earlier than that, before the departure.”

But Lo duly delivered at the Mussanah Open in Oman earlier this year. He dominated the competition and secured his place in the Olympics.

But it was only a step towards a bigger goal.

“In the end, the ultimate goal is not to qualify. At the end of the day, I want to do well at the Olympics, qualifying is part of the process, ”Lo said.

“I want to go to the Olympics and give my best – not just go there and compete and dial the numbers… I want to give my best and give other sailors a run for their money.”

Ryan Asian Games Sailing

Singaporean Ryan Lo clinched the bronze medal on the final day of sailing competition at the 2018 Asian Games (Photo: Sport Singapore)

‘I ALWAYS TRY TO BE THE BEST I CAN BE’

In Tokyo, there will be an additional challenge – the sweltering heat of summer.

“I think the biggest challenge for every sailor there will be the weather, the heat. So based on our previous experience during this time (of the year) it will be very hot in Japan, hot and humid, ”said Lo, who competed in an Olympic test event at the same site in 2019.

Lo thinks the wait has been beneficial.

“The postponement of the Olympics helped me a lot in my progress as a sailor. Both physically and also (my) technique, ”he said.

“Although the results do not really show a full and complete picture, but based on recent results, (there is) certainly a step forward from previous years, has definitely taken a big step forward.”

Now, older, stronger and wiser, he will return to Japan.

“(There is) a certain satisfaction in having succeeded and here I am (with) the best sailors, the best athletes in the world,” said Lo, who is currently ranked tenth in the world in the Laser Standard class.

“But, at the same time, I’m also here to do my job and hopefully make the country proud.”

Considering how long it took him to get to Tokyo, whatever wait he faces on the waters of Enoshima, he is unlikely to deter the concentration of Lo.

After all, when it comes to being patient, he’s already practiced a lifetime.

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