(L to R) Athletics coach Dario De
Rosas, swimmers Jeremy Joint
Riong and Amanda Liew Jia Xin,
hurdler Maziah Mahusin, aquatics
coach Eva Wong Hie Ming and
Chef De Mission Mariam Ulat
departing Brunei for Singapore to
compete in the 2010 Youth Olympic
It is now or never for the nation's three athletes at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
Two swimmers and one track and field athlete left Brunei for Singapore yesterday, and though they are no strangers to the national team, there is no doubt the Aug 14-26 event will be the toughest test to date in their fledging sport careers.
Amanda Liew Jia Xin (50m breaststroke and freestyle) and Jeremy Joint Riong (50m and 100m butterfly) will be hoping to make a splash at the Singapore Sports School swimming pool while Maziah Mahusin will be aiming to leave her mark in the 400m hurdles at the Bishan Stadium.
At the Brunei International Airport to bid the contingent farewell was the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Paduka Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah, who advised and urged the athletes to make the most of the opportunity handed to them.
The Games which kick off on Saturday will not only provides the athletes the opportunity to pit their skills against some of the world's best junior athletes but also the chance to meet like minded youth who have committed themselves to sports.
"This is an opportunity to better themselves. It is also an opportunity not only to compete with fellow youth Olympians but also an avenue to test and better themselves... To compete against themselves so they can perform better than they already have," stressed Pehin Dato Hj Hazair.
"The Games will also be an opportunity to build a network and exchange experiences and techniques with other athletes.
"This will be good for their athletic career since they are still young and have many miles to go," added the minister.
The six-member contingent is headed by Acting Deputy Director of the Department of Youth and Sports Mariam Ulat, with national swimming coach Eva Wong and national athletics coach Dario de Rosas completing the list.
The country is sending the athletes through the 'universality place' or 'unqualified quota' set by the International Olympic Council (IOC) but Pehin Hazair told the athletes not to treat the competition any lighter than if they had qualified on merit.
And with the cream of the crop in global junior sports competing in the 13-day event, expectations for Brunei aren't high.
"Though their participation is under the 'universality place' and not based on qualifying, we still have been given the opportunity to participate in this prestigious event and I hope they can take advantage of it and do their best," he said.
"My target is for them to give it their best performance in terms of competition and also besting their own records," he added.
Liew's 50m breaststroke is set for Sunday while the freestyle will be contested next Friday. Riong will start his campaign on Monday with the 100m butterfly, while the 50m butterfly is two days later on Wednesday. Maziah competes on Thursday.
Poor performances in tournaments like the Malaysia Games from June 10-19 in Melaka and the Asean Schools Games in Kuala Lumpur from July 12-21 were blamed in part to nerves.
When asked if a lack of mental strength and inability to deal with the environment in the competition venues would affect the three athletes' performance in Singapore, Pehin Dato Hj Hazair said he wouldn't discount the possibility.
"They are nervous because of the environment which is different from that during training in Brunei," he said.
"We have stressed that to coaches and asked them to recreate such an environment during training, and that has been done. The athletes can build their confidence this way.
"I am not discarding any nervousness for our athletes but this is a big event, a junior Olympics, and the other athletes will be nervous too. Sure there will be an element of nervousness but we will be prepared," assured the minister.
Courtesy from Brunei Times