By Lin Xinyi
REPRESENTING Singapore at the Olympics at the age of 17 is something sprinter Calvin Kang never saw coming.
These days, he can almost taste it, as the Republic’s fastest junior has emerged as the favourite to earn the wild card that would allow him to compete in the 100 metres at the Beijing Games.
The International Association of Athletics Federations gives countries, who do not have athletes that have qualified for the Games, a wild card for one male and one female representative. The wild card can be used to enter the athletes in one event, except for the 10,000m, 3,000m steeplechase and the combined events, such as the heptathlon and decathlon.
Calvin, who studies at the Auckland University of Technology, said: “I was targeting the 2012 Games. If I get the chance to go, the 2008 Games would be a bonus.
“It’d be good to have the exposure – know the atmosphere and what the runners are like. It’ll give me the motivation and the confidence to know that, in four years’ time, I can do the same thing.”
Calvin, who holds the 100m national junior record of 10.55 seconds, added another feather to his cap last week. At the 3rd South-east Asia Junior Championships in Phuket, he set a meet record of 10.70 with his winning run.
The previous record of 10.87 at the Under-20 meet was set by Thai Tawarit Chantaphan in 2006.
Calvin’s season’s best this year is 10.65. Singapore Athletic Association president Loh Lin Kok noted: “Calvin is the foremost contender for the men’s wild card.”
The teenager’s likeliest challenger for the card is Poh Seng Song. The 24-year-old was Singapore’s representative at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where he clocked 10.75 and finished seventh in the 100m heats.
Poh, whose best time this season is 10.76, said: “It’s up to the association to decide, but I haven’t lost hope yet.”
Calvin’s gold at the SEA Junior meet was part of a medal haul that boasted three golds, three silvers and four bronzes – Singapore’s best performance at this level. The other two golds came from long jumper Matthew Goh, 16, and thrower Scott Wong, 17.
Loh was understandably proud if his charges. He said: “Two of our golds came in blue-riband events. Calvin beat the Thais on home turf, as well as the Indonesians, who are famous for their production of sprinters.
“The long jump is another event that the Thais are very strong at.”
Matthew’s effort of 7.16m was just 1cm shy of the meet record set by Malaysian Jen Chan Guo in 2007.
Loh believes that there will be greater things to come from these athletes. He said: “This bodes well for the future. It shows that my association’s efforts to produce a new generation is coming to fruition.”