Good luck, play hard and enjoy the game: Singapore badminton chief

The players have been told to "uphold the ideals of Singapore and the Games" when they are in London (photo courtesy of SBA)The players have been told to "uphold the ideals of Singapore and the Games" when they are in London (photo courtesy …

With the 2012 Olympic Games just a little more than a fortnight away, Team Singapore athletes are gearing up for the experience of competing in professional sports' grandest stage.

Pending the final approval from the Singapore National Olympic Council, Singapore will be represented at the 27 July to 12 August Games in London by 21 athletes in seven sports including table tennis, swimming and badminton.

For the four national badminton players who have earned their tickets to London, Bobby Lee, Singapore Badminton Association's chief executive, has only a simple message for them: "Good luck, play hard, enjoy the game. We are all supporting you."

But Lee's slightly laissez-faire approach to his players does not mean Derek Wong (men's singles), Gu Juan (women's singles) and the women's doubles pair of Yao Lei and Shinta Mulia Sari have been putting their legs up and taking things easy ahead of the Games.

Far from it, Lee said. "All our four Olympians have worked very hard and sacrificed a lot throughout the qualification period to get to the Olympics," Lee revealed in an interview with Yahoo! Singapore.

"They know that it is an honour and a privilege to represent Singapore in the Olympics," he insisted.

Derek Wong and his fellow shuttlers have trained in Taiwan and Japan as part of their preparations for London 2012 (photo courtesy of SBA)Derek Wong and his fellow shuttlers have trained in Taiwan and Japan as part of their preparations for London 2012 …

The badminton chief is also grateful for the support shown to the players, noting that overseas training stints in Taiwan and Japan was possible only through the help of the SNOC, the Singapore Sports Council, and other corporate sponsors.

"We have also invested more funds into nutritional, psychological and physiological preparation for the players," Lee let on.

But, despite sparing no efforts in ensuring the players reach their optimal levels during the Games, Lee does not want to follow the lead of his counterparts at the table tennis association -- who are gunning for two medals at the Games -- and set specific targets for his charges.

"We have told them that representing Singapore at the Olympics is more than winning medals. It is also about being an ambassador of the country at the Games. They will need to uphold the ideals of Singapore and the Games when they are in London" he explained.

Lee is confident that the players will be able to do just that, believing "they will give a very good account of themselves at the Games".

He also urged them to make full use of "this privileged experience for a sportsman".

To detractors who are reluctant to cheer for Gu, Shinta and Yao -- who are among the naturalised citizens chosen to represent the country -- Lee's message is unequivocal. "I would like to ask Singaporeans to suspend their judgment, to understand the players' backgrounds better and to appreciate the work that they have done and will continue to do for Singapore, if we give them our whole-hearted support."

Singaporeans should appreciate the hard work of athletes like Gu Juan who are naturalised citizens, Lee said (photo courtesy of SBA)Singaporeans should appreciate the hard work of athletes like Gu Juan who are naturalised citizens, Lee said (photo …