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1 August 2008, 09:45 pm
Seng Leong Koh: Back On Course
Seng Leong Koh at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships
Seng Leong Koh at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships

2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Sailor Seng Leong KOH of Singapore is happy just to be at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, three months after a major back operation.
Seng Leong KOH, 24, slipped a disc earlier this year and needed immediate keyhole surgery to repair a pinched nerve.

But on Friday at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, KOH was preparing his Laser. And the smile on his face said it all.

"I had a slipped disc and it just kept getting worse. I was at competition in Holland in May and pulled out of the race because my back was in so much pain."

KOH was offered the short-term option of an epidural or a major operation after two specialists found 90% of a nerve was pinched by the disc.

"I was in danger of severing the nerve. I saw the specialists one day, was operated on the next, out of the hospital the day after and in the gym doing arm exercises two days later."

By the third week after the operation, KOH was out running. By the fourth, he was sailing again.

The Singapore sailor said at no time did he look back and think he would not make it to China.

"Doctors told me I would make it and I believed them. I am 100% fit now. The disc is not an issue anymore."

KOH missed a vital regatta and training time during his recovery and his ISAF World Ranking dropped from 60 to 82.

He said this would probably be his last shot at Olympic glory.

"If I want my back to hold out in the long term, I can't sail for much longer."

"Right now I am only thinking about competing for a gold medal here at Qingdao. Missing regattas is not an issue for me."

KOH finished 28th at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in the 470 before switching to Laser.

His coach is Brett BEYER (AUS), a six-time Laser Apprentice Master World Champion.

"A lot of sailing is about using your mind. I have my fitness, I've dropped 6kg to sail better in lighter conditions and I'm lucky to have my coach Brett."

"Brett is a great coach - no pressure. We just go sailing. We are friends on and off the water too."
Olympic News Service
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