Singapore won both boy's and girl's YOG qualification events at the Byte CII Asian Championships, whilst Thailand, Malaysia and China all secured their places at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
Fifty sailors from Thailand, Japan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia were in Pattaya, Thailand for the first continental qualifier for the inaugural 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games (YOG). The Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Thailand hosted the YOG Asian qualifier for the One Person Dinghy Boys and Girls events in conjunction with the 2009 Byte CII Asian Championship. With Singapore already seeded into the Games as the host country, three spots were open to the top three other countries in both the boy's and girl's divisions of the Championship providing that the competitor would not have turned 17 in 2010.
Thailand's Keerati Bualong
, the 2007 Byte CII World Champion, (also sailed at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya), added the 2009 Asian Byte CII Championship to his growing list of accomplishments with a thoroughly convincing win. At 17, he is too old to compete in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, but his presence in the regatta certainly set the standard, particularly on a windy final day where he stormed to the overall title by winning all of the last three races. In second place overall and top performer among the boys' YOG candidates was 2009 Byte CII World Champion and Asian Youth Games champion, Darren Choy (SIN), 15. He was followed by his compatriots Nathan Tang and Terence Choo, both of whom are also eligible for next year's YOG. Second-best nation amongst the YOG-eligible entrants was Thailand, with Supakorn Pongwichean in eighth overall, then Malaysia with Muhamad Amirul Shafiq Bin MD Jais in 12th, with the final YOG qualification spot going to China with Wang Zili in 17th.
In the girls' event, Singapore's Airiel Ruth Ho came out tops both overall and amongst the YOG candidates followed by Kamolwan Chanyim of Thailand and Natasha Michiko Yokoyama of Singapore taking the bronze. China qualified as second-best nation thanks to Gu Min, followed by Malaysia sailed by Khairunneeta Binti Mohd Afendy and Thailand, thanks to Jittiwa Thanawitwilat.
Although it is the sailor who will qualify their country with their finish, it should be stressed that this event qualifies the country, not the sailor. The ISAF Member National Authority (MNA) of the qualified country will select the sailor who may, or may not, be the one who sailed in this event.
Mark Robinson, SingaporeSailing's Head of High Performance, said, "The results of the YOG Asian Qualifier show that there is a lot of depth in our Youth Olympic Games programme; Singapore taking the top five places in the boys category and top four places in the girls category. Some of our sailors will now be heading to Europe to test themselves against the age-group competition from that continent in preparation for the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games."
The next Youth Olympic Games qualifier takes place in Italy, with the Byte CII European Championship in Imperia from 3-7 December.
Find out more about the Youth Olympic Games, the events and equipment, the qualification system and more at www.sailing.org/yog.