National sprinter Timothee Yap is looking forward to running in the 100metre event at the Rio Olympics next month.
This is because Yap, 21, a tertiary student at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law, had been awarded the Singapore men’s athletics lone wildcard entry.
The wildcard is typically given to countries which do not have any athletes in their category, qualifying on merit for the Olympics in a sport, thus giving them an opportunity to be represented on the world’s biggest sporting stage.
As Singapore does not have any male athletics representatives who had made the Games on merit, the wildcard had been thus given to Singapore.
Felt like a dream
Said Yap, “When I had heard the news, I felt as though I was in a dream. I was extremely thankful and grateful for the opportunity and privilege that this has been bestowed onto me.”
But at the same time though, Yap admitted that he does not feel that he deserves this honour.
Said the sprinter, “Since young, it was always a dream of mine to represent Singapore at international meets. It was also a dream to participate in the Olympics but I never thought I had the chance till this year. I have always believed that you have to meet the qualifying mark to go to the Olympics because that would mean that you are amongst the world’s best.”
He continued, “However being given this wildcard is a huge privilege and opportunity that I am ‘undeserving of’ because I have yet to meet the mark. But it is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Competing at the Olympic level can be overwhelming
But at the same time, Yap also added that competing on such a big global stage can be quite overwhelming.
Explained Yap, “It can be overwhelming to compete on such a huge platform, but at the starting line, I guess my focus will be solely on the race. I am prepared and ready to go.”
Ready as he can be, to take on the big guns
The sprinter feels that he is as ready as he can be, to take on the big guns in Rio, though.
Yap continued, “As I have been preparing for the ASEAN University Games, I feel that I am physically conditioned for the Olympics.”
He added, “However, my original goal this season was the ASEAN University Games, which ended in the middle of July. But being selected for the Olympics means that my season has to be extended for another month.”
But Yap is certainly not complaining about the ‘extra training’ though.
The sprinter added, “From now till the Olympics, I will be working on fine-tuning technical aspects of my race as well as building more speed, endurance and strength – as I feel that my finishing isn’t strong.”
Yap did not start out as a sprinter
His nomination and subsequent selection for the Olympics is quite interesting because Yap did not actually start out as a sprinter.
Said Yap, “Throughout my school days, I have always been selected to represent my school in the 400metre hurdles as I have constantly delivered. On the sidelines, I have always enjoyed running the 100metres and have consistently been making the national youth, junior and combined schools 4x100metre team.”
He added, “But after serving national service, I found that I had become bigger and stronger and hence decided to give the 100 metres a try. I have not looked back since.”
Hopes his selection will inspire other athletes
Yap hopes that his selection and nomination will inspire not only himself, but also other student or working athletes just like him.
Said the sprinter, “I hope that being selected for the Olympics will inspire other student athletes to excel in both sports and academics. You just have to always give your best, and make every set, every exercise, and every read and assignment count.”
Passion is important
Yap also pointed out that passion and interest though is, first and foremost, the key criteria in any sports for any athlete. He said “Pursue your passion, listen to your coach and believe in yourself.”
All photos in this blog post were sent to me by Timothee Yap.