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Sports Try-Out For Talent Development

Talent Optimisation Programme

For the first time, a Talent Optimisation Programme (TOP) was organised collaboratively with National Youth Sports Institute (NYSI) to allow student-athletes the opportunity to gain exposure and try out new sports. Representatives from the National Sports Associations (NSAs) were present to spot potential talents. The sports offered as part of the pilot programme on 11 November 2020 were Weightlifting, Wrestling, Petanque, Cycling, Canoeing/Kayaking, and Water Polo.

“The programme, offered in collaboration with NYSI and respective NSAs, aims to strengthen talent development, and provide a strong learning and training environment where student-athletes can achieve their best potential in sport. The programme provides a systematic approach for student-athletes to learn a new sport through yearly sports try-out and trials, which also present them with the option to pursue any of these new sports further through talent transfer in the future,” shared Sports School’s Director of Sports, Tan Bee Lian.

Talent optimisation is not new in the sports system. Many sportsmen and sportswomen have switched sports to maximise their potential and have shone in their sports performance. NYSI Head of Sport Science and Talent Identification, Matthew Wylde shared, “For example, the UK and Australia have seen 5 to 7% of their recent Olympic contingents coming through Talent Optimisation Programmes (and it is as high as 23 to 27% for the Winter Olympics).”

While it is less common in Singapore, there have been notable examples of athletes who have switched sport to represent Team Singapore at major Games. These include alumnae Constance Lien Tian-En, Sheena Soh and Shermaine Tung Kaixin. Constance switched from Swimming to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She was crowned as the world champion at the 2019 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Championships, and clinched a gold medal during her 2019 SEA Games debut in the Philippines. Sheena Soh was another swimmer turned Underwater Hockey player. She debuted at the 2019 SEA Games as vice-captain of the Underwater Hockey Women’s Team and won gold in both Elite 4x4 and 6x6 events. Shermaine, who moved from Shooting to Modern Pentathlon, also did Singapore proud when she won a bronze medal at the 2019 Biathle/Triathle World Championship in the Triathle (shoot-swim-run) event in Florida. She also won a bronze medal at her first SEA Games appearance in 2019.

“The Talent Optimisation Programme has been run by NYSI since 2017. It is a deliberate programme to identify potential athletes who can change sport to maximise their potential. Extending this programme to Sports School athletes will give them the opportunities to move into new sports, and fast track their development towards representing Team Singapore at major Games,” shared Matthew.