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Optimising Sports Talents

Talent Optimisation Programme

Final-year IBDP student-athlete Yeo Ben Shin joined Singapore Sports School’s Track and Field Academy after his Primary School education with the dream of becoming a renowned local sportsman. The long and triple jumper who started his sports journey in Primary 5, was steadily working towards his goals and has won medals in local and international meets such as the Thailand Sports School Games. 

However, when Ben Shin felt that his progress in track and field stagnated, he decided to make a switch to a sport which he is also passionate about - weightlifting. While many may consider the change to be rather drastic, Ben Shin has made good progress and has no regrets about taking the plunge after eight years on the track. He shared, “Being a triple jumper and weightlifter may seem totally different, but as a sportsman, there are some innate abilities and capabilities that enable us to do well in other sports too. To succeed in a new sport, we must have a deep interest in it and a good attitude towards training.”

Celeste Ferrao Wan (Diploma in Sport Management, Year 2) made a similar decision as Ben Shin, switching from artistic swimming to water polo. She shared, “Since both are water sports, I could transfer my skills easily from one to the other. I had to adjust to the rougher aspects of water polo as it is a contact sport, compared to the graceful movements that I was used to in artistic swimming.” Celeste has no regrets about switching to water polo. She shared, “In sports, it is important to love what you are doing. Within just two weeks, I joined the national team, and I am hoping to make it to the team representing Singapore at the Asian Games next year, and the next SEA Games where water polo will be included in the competition.”

Ben Shin and Celeste managed to transfer sports under the Talent Optimisation Programme (TOP). The TOP, introduced by National Youth Sports Institute (NYSI) in 2017, was extended to Singapore Sports School last year to strengthen youth talent development. Since then, the Multi-Sports Day (Read more) has been organised to expose student-athletes to different sports, in the presence of representatives from NYSI and the National Sports Associations (NSAs). While student-athletes are given time to have fun trying out a new sport, the representatives use the physical and cognitive challenges to assess potential talents. 

Some talents who have flourished after making a switch in sports are alumni Constance Lien Tian En and Nicholas Rachmadi. Constance, who was from the swimming academy, made a switch to Jiu-Jitsu after graduating. She became a world champion at the 2019 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships and won a gold medal representing Singapore at the 2019 SEA Games. Nicholas, who switched from swimming to triathlon while studying in Sports School, won a silver medal for Duathlon (Mixed Relay) at the 2019 SEA Games.

More recently, first-year Diploma in Business student-athlete Nicholas Chong Xin Le, who transferred from the Table Tennis Academy to Individual Programme - Cycling, won two gold medals consecutively at the Cycosports Jungle Cross 4 Championships and OCBC Cycle National Championships in November.

Tan Bee Lian, Director of Sports, shared, “Student-athletes come to us at a young age, and besides their core sport training, we see the need for them to be exposed to multi-sport training so as to allow them to continue to enhance their movement skills and sample different sports during their early phases of sports development. As a national institution for youth sports development, it is our responsibility to provide multiple entry and exit points with opportunities for progressive talent development, to minimise the drop out of youth athletes in Sports School through talent optimisation and transfer."  

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