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Eight Athletes To Watch In Tokyo 2020

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: Athlete Features

Singapore Sports School will have eight present and past student-athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Tokyo Games, which was postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021 in Japan. They make up more than one-third of Team Singapore’s 23-strong contingent.

The eight athletes – Veronica Shanti Pereira (Athletics), Loh Kean Yew, Yeo Jia Min (both badminton), Amita Marie Nicolette Berthier (Fencing), Chantal Liew Li-Shan (Marathon Swimming), Cecilia Low Rui Qi (Sailing), Adele Tan Qian Xiu (Shooting), and Clarence Chew Zhe Yu (Table Tennis) – bring Sports School’s number of Olympians to a total of 16 since our student-athletes’ first showing at the quadrennial Games in Beijing 2008. The other eight Olympians are: Calvin Kang Li Loong (Athletics, Beijing 2008), Dipna Lim Prasad (Athletics, London 2012), Liang Xiao Yu (Badminton, Rio 2016), Denise Lim Ke Xin (Sailing, Rio 2016), Griselda Khng (Sailing, Rio 2016), Jovina Choo Bei Fen (Sailing, Rio 2016), Mylene Ong Chui Bin (Swimming, London 2012), and Tao Li (Swimming, Beijing 2008 and London 2012).

How did these eight Tokyo Olympians secure their place to compete at the world’s biggest sport stage?

Shanti Pereira 08dec19 003. Photo by SportSG-Jeremy Lee.jpgPhoto by SportSG/Jeremy Lee

Veronica Shanti Pereira, Athletics
Age: 24
Event: Women’s 200m

How she qualified: Shanti will present Singapore under the universality quota which allows National Olympic Committees to enter their best-ranked athlete in one event if there no athlete or relay team has qualified for the Games. Singapore Athletics nominated the sprinter who is the top-ranked Singaporean athlete based on World Athletics’ scoring table.

The Sports School alumna currently holds the Women’s 100m and 200m National Records. At the Singapore 2015 Southeast Asian Games, she won the nation’s first gold medal in a sprint event in 42 years. She went on to win the 100m bronze medal in that edition of the SEA Games which was also Singapore’s first medal in the event in 42 years. Shanti clinched four more individual bronze medals at the Kuala Lumpur 2017 and Philippines 2019 SEA Games.

1 Loh Kean Yew, Badminton. Photo taken at the 2019 SEA Games by SNOC-Lim Weixiang.jpgPhoto by SNOC/Lim Weixiang

Loh Kean Yew, Badminton
Age: 24
World Ranking: 42 (as at 15 June 2021), Olympic Ranking: 18
Event: Men’s Singles

How he qualified: Kean Yew placed 18th in the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Race To Tokyo rankings which decides which players qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. At the end of qualification period which officially closed on 15 June 2021, Kean Yew qualified by virtue of being among the top 38 players in the Olympics ranking list.

At his peak, he had a world ranking of No. 27 on 10 September 2019, which he held on to for four weeks. At the start of this season in January 2020, Kean Yew was ranked No. 36 in the world. Singapore’s top-ranked shuttler has 2 individual Southeast Asian (SEA) Games medals – 1 silver and 1 bronze – under his belt, as well as a win over two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan.

1 Loh Kean Yew, Badminton. Photo taken at the 2019 SEA Games by SNOC-Lim Weixiang.jpg
Yeo Jia Min, Badminton
Age: 22
World Ranking: 30 (as at 15 June 2021), Olympic Ranking: 17
Event: Women’s Singles

How she qualified: Jia Min placed 17th in the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Race To Tokyo rankings which decides which players qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. At the end of qualification period which officially closed on 15 June 2021, Jia Min qualified by virtue of being among the top 38 players in the Olympics ranking list.

At her peak, the nation’s top women’s shuttler had a world ranking of No. 24 on 5 November 2019, and was World No. 26 at the start of this year. One of Jia Min’s top achievements is the 2019 IDBI Federal Life Insurance Hyderabad Open Women’s Singles title.

Amita Marie Nicolette Berthier, Fencing
Age: 20
World Ranking: 60 (as at 21 June 2021)
Event: Women’s Foil

How she qualified: Amita won the 2021 Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualification Tournament in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on 25 April 2021 to secure her spot in the Women’s Foil event at Tokyo 2020. She is the first Singaporean fencer to qualify, and one of two first female to represent the country, for the quadrennial Games. Back in 1992, two fencers, James Wong and Ronald Tan, competed in the Barcelona Games by virtue of being Singapore’s top fencers.

The former Sports School student-athlete has a long list of achievements to her name. She was the first Singaporean to top the Women’s Junior Foil world ranking list in 2018, won 2 individual gold medals at the SEA Games, and is only the second Singaporean to win a senior satellite tournament on the International Fencing Federation (FIE) circuit.

Photo by Waiting For Tokyo Film
Chantal Liew Li-Shan, Marathon Swimming
Age: 22
Event: Women’s 10km Marathon

How she qualified: Barely a month to go before the start of the Tokyo Olympics, Chantal earned her spot at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifiers in Setúbal, Portugal, on 19 June 2021. The open water swimmer clocked a time of 2:12:19.50 to finish 29th out of 40 swimmers. She was the best Asian swimmer after two Japanese swimmers, earning her continental qualification to the world’s biggest sport stage.

Chantal, a former student-athlete, is the first Singaporean female to win an open water swimming medal at the SEA Games (Kuala Lumpur 2017).

Cecilia Low (right). Photo by Sport Singapore.
Cecilia Low Rui Qi, Sailing
Age: 30
World Ranking: 31 (as at 21 June 2021)
Event: Women’s 49erFX

How she qualified: Cecilia Low Rui Qi and partner Kimberly Lim secured an Olympic berth with their performance at the 2019 Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships in Auckland on 8 December 2019. Six spots were on offer in the 49erFX class for nations who had not qualified, and the pair – who had finished 15th – earned the final qualification spot due to a rule that allowed each national Olympic committee to secure a maximum of one berth in each event.

Cecilia is a world champion having won the 2012 420 World Championships title. The alumna also has 3 medals – 2 golds and 1 silver – from the Asian Games. The pair, who won the Jakarta-Palembang 2018 Asian Games gold medal, have a best ranking of 9th in the world.

Adele Tan Qian Xiu, Shooting
Age: 22
Olympic Ranking: 21st
Event: Women’s 10m Air Rifle

How she qualified: Adele emerged as the best shooter in a selection process that took into account four meets – the 2020 H&N Cup in Munich, and three internal shoots. In November 2019, compatriot Tessa Neo had secured a berth for the country, with the Singapore Shooting Association and Singapore National Olympic Council left to determine Singapore’s representative at the Olympics. Adele performed well in the 2020 H&N Cup, winning the gold medal with a new National Record score.

At her maiden major Games appearance at the Philippines 2019 SEA Games, Adele clinched 2 bronze medals, one of them in the Women’s Individual event. Her best performance on the senior world stage is a 5th-place finish at the 2018 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championships in Changwon, South Korea.

Photo by Singapore Table Tennis Association
Clarence Chew Zhe Yu, Table Tennis
Age: 25
World Ranking: 186 (as of 15 June 2021)
Event: Men’s Singles

How he qualified: Clarence won the 2020 Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Doha, Qatar, on 20 March 2021 to secure a berth in the Men’s Singles event at the 2020 Olympics. He defeated Sports School junior and alumnus Koen Pang Yew En in the final of the Southeast Asian category to become the first Singapore-born paddler to qualify for the Olympics.

Clarence, a post-secondary student-athlete in Sports School’s customised Diploma in Sports and Leisure Management programme offered in collaboration with Republic Polytechnic, has 10 medals from four editions of the SEA Games (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019), earning a podium spot in the individual event each year. He was also part of the gold medal-winning Men’s Team at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.