23 March 11 The Straits Times by Chan U-Gene
THE Singapore sport climbing team are expected to clinch at least three medals at November's South-east Asia Games when the sport makes its debut in Palembang.
Said Rasip Isnin, secretary of the Singapore Mountaineering Federation: 'We are confident of at least one gold, and two or three other medals.
'We consider ourselves the top nation in the region behind Indonesia.'
Hosts Indonesia are expected to make a strong claim for the 10 gold medals at stake, but Singapore national coach Aizan Asmoah is confident that the Republic will 'give them a good run for their money'.
Isnin believes that veteran climber and national lead champion Jay Koh, 30, is a favourite for the gold medal in either the lead or boulder events.
Boulder climbing involves a safety rope. The competitor who covers the most ground within a stipulated time wins.
Lead climbers do not use ropes but a safety mattress is laid out to break their fall. The climber who completes the route in the fewest attempts will win.
Another Singapore medal hopeful is speed climber Muhammad Zaki, who won silver at the 2005 Asian Indoor Games.
Though the 25-year-old admits he lacks physical strength when compared to some of his rivals, he makes it up with mental strength.
He said: 'A lot of the race depends on mental strength. In top competitions, physically, everyone is there, but it is whether they can hold it together, mentally, in critical moments.'
Said Aizan on the duo: 'Both of them are seasoned competitors.
'We are strong in speed climbing and, for Jay, a lot will depend on his reading (of the course) on the day.'
Joining them on the list of 20 climbers short-listed for the SEA Games is 22-year-old Adriel Choo, tipped as an up-and-coming talent after beating Zaki in the selection trials.
Singapore's strongest female climber Beatrice Chong, who is an Asian X-Games silver-medallist, has been left out of the short-list for now as she is due to give birth this month.
But the officials are hopeful that the 32-year-old will return to competition in time for the SEA Games.
'We are confident of at least one gold, and two or three other medals.'
RASIP ISNIN, secretary of the Singapore Mountaineering Federation, on medal targets at the SEA Games