SingaporeAthletics.com will bring you a series of post SEA Games interview with the athletics contingent that went to Laos.
We start off with triple jumper Stefan Tseng, a promising young athlete, who nearly missed out on a SEA Games medal.
Level headed, and under the tutelage by one of the leading jumps coach in the region, Dr. Valeri Obidko, Stefan might have returned without a medal in 2009 SEA Games edition, but he promises the next time round, it will be gold and nothing less.
Photos courtesy of Stefan Tseng, taken by Vincent Ong of Singapore Sports School.
Stefan Tseng attempts his triple jump in Laos. Photo courtesy of Vincent Ong from Singapore Sports School.
Post SEA Games result: 16.03m in the triple jump, 4th
So the SEA Games is over, what are you doing currently.
For now I’m just getting some time off to relax and chill. Going to start training soon but will have to take another break for about 7-weeks due to National Service (I’m enlisting on the 4th of January).
Going into the SEA Games Laos what were your goals, and expectations.
Consistently hitting 16m was definitely one of my goals and I managed that. And I most definitely wanted to win a medal, not bronze but gold. I was confident and knew I had it in me to get it.
What was the normal daily routine when you were at Laos.
Basically it was to train either in the morning or afternoon, depending on the availability of the main stadium. Other then that I just relaxed in the room playing computer games with my roommates, Matthew Goh (Long Jump) and Sean Lim (Pole Vault).
How was your SEA Games village experience?
The accommodation was slightly better than the one in Korat at the 2007 SEA Games. No air-con but at night it was pretty cold. Everyone shared one dining hall, unfortunately the food was not so great.
Thankfully Singapore had set up a recovery centre nearby which had catered food for us, so I went there for some meals.
You were close getting on the podium, and I heard you broke down after knowing you lost out on a medal. For your event, you fouled four jumps, and managed only to get two legal jumps. Were you able to execute your competition plans by your coach successfully. What happened during the competition?
Before the competition I was really pumped up and confident, I knew that I could do something special that day. I warmed up well and felt really good.
For the first jump I was overboard by about a foot and a half, but the jump itself was easily over 16m. My confidence grew because it felt almost effortless to jump 16m.
Second jump was another foul, by about half a foot despite moving back 2 feet after 1st jump, but again the jump was easily over 16m. By this time, most of the other jumpers were doing around 15.8m-15.9m but I did not panic because I knew that I had it in me.
An official gazed at a concerned looking Stefan, who was hoping to land that big jump
For my third jump, I played it slightly safe just to record a distance to jump the last three. I moved back by about another foot and ran slightly slower and less active.
Due to the lack of speed, my hop and step together were about 10m which was nothing to be proud of, but jump was about 6m which was pretty good by my standard.
And because of that I managed to record 16.03. With the 16.03 effort I was leading and really pumped up to go even further, to break 16.5m.
My fourth jump was technically good and I managed to run in with good speed and active last steps but was overboard by just a a fraction. It really was a good jump I believe, about 16.2m ~ 16.3m but unfortunately it was a foul.
Fifth jump was equally as good if not better, in terms of technique and run-up. But the unfortunate part was that apparently I had left a mark in the sand at least 20-30cm behind where I had landed. The official said my elbow scraped the ground but it was unusual for me to do that because I don’t have that habit. But it was definitely a medal winning jump.
By the last jump I was getting even more pumped up and probably overly excited. I wanted to give it my all in the last jump. I ran my heart out into the hop and probably went too high, which made it even harder to land again and not continue. So my last jump was an incomplete jump and definitely the most wasted jump.
Overall I think my performance was pretty good, based on my attempts, all my jumps were over 16m but unfortunately I could not cap a good performance with a medal. And considering I had not jump prior to the SEA Games due to a niggling heel injury, I think that good things await in the future.
If you were to relive your SEA Games in Laos once again, is there anything you would do differently? Or do you think you’ve done humanly everything possible in your capacity.
The eventual triple jump men’s winner, T. PHILAKONG of Thailand with a leap of 16.51m
I don’t think I will change a thing. Everything felt good. I was always confident from day one and it did not change even to the last jump. Unfortunately luck was not on my side but I can take back some positives from this as and a wealth of experience.
Tell us about your coach, Dr. Valeri Obidko.
Dr. Valeri Obidko
He is very passionate about Track & Field and the best jumps coach in the region and possibly the world. How many coaches can boast that they have brought up national record holders.
He brought to Singapore a wealth of knowledge and we definitely have benefited, we being the jumping group under his guidance. He used to be very strict on us when we were a lot younger to instill that discipline required of all athletes, and I believe that it has definitely made us better sportsmen and better people.
And he ensures that we know where our head is and not get our egos big. And I’m sure he deserves all the accolades he has received and about to receive.
Share with us the relationship you have with your coach.
I have a good relationship with my coach, we can talk about things in track and field and outside track and field like soccer, he’s a Chelsea fan and I’m Manchester United fan. And during competitions he knows how I’m feeling and know when to say and what to say to pump me up. Or even snap me out of a bad spell.
Tell us of the arrangement of being trained under Dr. Valeri Obidko. How has your coach helped to develop you all these years.
I have to thank the Sports School for getting my coach and helping me to get to where I am. My coach has made me into a better fighter and a better person. In terms of strength, technique and mentality, I have definitely become stronger and my knowledge of all the three have greatly improved.
Share with us some of the sacrifices made by your coach.
He definitely has made great sacrifices, turning down some offers from various places because he believes that our group of jumpers will make it somewhere one day. And through this belief he has on all of us, we want to repay him with good results.
Tell us of your own sacrifices. What do you think you’re missing out compared to an average teen, being a full-time student and juggling with training/sports. Do you even feel that you’re missing out on anything, or the sports itself is your own self-gratification.
I don’t think I keep track of any sacrifices because I am doing something I love everyday and if I were to sacrifice something, it was for something I love doing. So it’s definitely worth it and in due time, I know it will open doors for me.
During competition period, on a weekly basis how often do you train.
Stefan shows hows it's done, hop, step and jump ...
I still train five times a week during competition period but the intensity on plyometrics is not as heavy as compared to the loading phase. Focus is on technique and run-up so I would probably be doing short run-up jumps, just to focus on the jump itself. and Full run up without the jump to focus on the run-up itself.
What are your plans for the next season.
The Asian Games and Commonwealth Games are definitely the main competitions I aim to qualify for. And I am hoping that I can train whilst in National Service so that I can qualify for them.
Goals and expectations for the next SEA Games 2011 in Indonesia?
I was already thinking of gold when the Laos SEA Games ended and I want to win it with a massive jump.
If there anything in your current pursuit for gold that needs changes or more support.
Higher level competitions would be fantastic. A personal sponsor would be a great help to me because my parents have been helping me with shoes and equipment. But most importantly would be time to train during National Service. I think that if I can train without any disruptions, then I can develop well.
What do you think can be done to improve the state of local athletics.
I think support for the athletes can be improved. But on the other hand, athletes too have to show that they are committed and willing to sacrifice to win.
What are your opinion on the SSC/MCYS vs SAA spat and war of words.
At the end of the day, all parties have to realise that it is about the athletes and Singapore.
Thank you Stefan for your participation.
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