Of missed milestones and multiple gap years: A Singaporean sailor returns to the Olympics wiser and faster

3 weeks ago 63

SINGAPORE: Life as a top athlete is often itinerant.

Over the past few years, Ryan Lo has been back home for no more than two months at a time. Along the way, the 27-year-old sailor has missed out on major milestones, taken multiple gap years and lived out of suitcases.

Dreams, you see, require dedication.

"This year was my first Chinese New Year (back home) in four, five years," he told CNA in an interview last week.

"It was quite a shock for me because some nephews or nieces I had not seen in some time ... Now they are almost as tall or taller than me."

Now older, wiser and faster, the 27-year-old is readying up for a second Olympic Games campaign. While Lo wants to fight for the medals, it is now about more than just that for Asia's highest-ranked ILCA7 sailor.

"What I'm trying to focus on right now is to let my sailing bring joy to myself, but I also hope that my sailing can bring joy to others as well," said Lo, who is 10th in the world rankings.


Lo picked up sailing at the age of seven. By the time he was in Primary 4, he was already representing Singapore in overseas competitions in the Optimist class, where a smaller sailing dinghy is used by children.

His sister Man Yi, who won gold in the Laser Radial event at the 2005 SEA Games, and Lo’s half-brother Jun Hao, who took silver at the 2007 SEA Games, served as inspiration that Lo could one day compete at the top level.

As a 13-year-old, Lo clinched bronze for Singapore at the 2010 Asian Games. Eight years later, he claimed another Asiad bronze, this time in the laser event (now ILCA7).

The Singaporean made his Olympics debut at the COVID-postponed Tokyo Games in 2021 where he finished 21st out of 35 sailors.

But things are different now.

"The biggest change I would say (is that) I've gotten faster. I take a lot of pride in the work that I've done with my coach and the team of sports scientists," said Lo.

The Singaporean believes that he has matured as well. And one sign of that growth is learning not to be hard on himself. 

Lo is also more confident when leading races.

"In the past, I wouldn't say I was scared to win. But when I was in winning positions, I would not be able to seal the deal so comfortably," he added.

"Now, I'm in a position where I'm comfortable winning races and ...

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