Last year at the SEA Games held in Palembang, Indonesia, 25-year-old Gary Yeo shocked the field as he crossed the finish line second in the men 100m final event, in a lifetime best timing of 10.46 seconds.
Although the local media hyped it as an astonishing feat, for those who has been in the athletics scene knows it came as no surprise that he earned that silver medal by sheer pluck after years of modeled training, refusing to yield and settle for anything less.
Coming into the 2011 SEA Games, the event which was held biennially, the second-year undergrad had a season-best of 10.62 seconds and was ranked second in the 100 metres men event locally for that year.
That time alone wouldn’t make it to the podium, but he knew something special was brewing in the air for he and his coach Melvin Tan was meticulously planning his peak for this moment alone.
Futhermore experience was on his side as Gary had been in two previous SEA Games outing in 2007 and 2009 before Palembang.
Although unsuccessful in his medal hunt in 2007, he did help the 4×100 metres relay quartet setting a new national record of 40.10 seconds (Gary, Shameer, Calvin, Seng Song) when the Games was held in Korat, Thailand in five years ago, bettering the old mark of 40.32 seconds.
Then in 2009 SEA Games he once again was part of a record breaking relay team in the 4×100 metres men event (39.82s), which earned the quartet a silver medal.
For in 2011 SEA Games, he had peaked at the right time, and brought home another two medals, both silver. A personal best in the blue ribbon event (100m 10.46s 2.1m/s), and the 4x100m men’s relay squad (39.91s).
With his recent excellent performances, Gary was warranted a wildcard entry. His SAA nomination was approved by SNOC, and he’s enjoying the fruits of his labor for he is in London now; the Republic athletics representative for the Olympics.
The opportunity allows Gary Yeo the chance to achieve his biggest dream in life by running, training and rubbing shoulder in the ‘big leagues’ alongside some of the greatest all-time names.
- D.O.B: 30/08/1986
Years in sport: 12
PB / SB: 10.46s / 10.62s (100m)
Records: Men senior 4x100m (39.58s)
Here’s a recent interview with Gary before he depart for London.
What was your reaction upon hearing of your selection for the Olympics?
Gary: I was happy and deeply honored to be selected to be selected and am very excited to race at this year’s Olympics.
In your wildest dream when you started your athletics journey, would you be imagining that you would be competing at the biggest sporting event in the world this August.
Gary: No, I would not have dreamed of this at all.
Gary Yeo seen here in at the Palembang Games, where he won silver. Image courtesy of SSC, via Getty.
What are your expectation(s) for the Games?
Gary: To go below 10.40s if possible
What are you hoping to gain from your experience at London 2012?
Gary: The once in a lifetime Olympics experience.
How and what are your preparation(s) for this meet?
Gary: A month training stint with the top sprinters of Japan and training has been good.
Gary’s first medal in 2009 at the SEA Games Laos, for the 4x100m men relay event.
What are your plans after the Olympics?
Gary: To return to school and for the track, to qualify for Sea Games at ASEAN University Games this year.
You’ve a unique athlete-student journey. I believe you took the secondary to A-Level route but didn’t make the cut for University. But you preserved and took a course in Poly where you excelled and earned you a spot at SMU. In all that time, did you ever though of quitting the sport and just focus on academia. What attributed you to continue training, and who was the person(s) who kept the faith in your abilities?
Gary: My fiancee, coaches and training mates – both past and present have kept me going.
Gary with his fiancee, and friends from his club, Wings Athletic Club.
It brings another good question of the support level needed for Singapore athletes. Do you think the current system is suffice, or lacking thereof. If so in what areas do you think that needs improving to improve the current state of Singapore athletics?
Gary: A better solution for athletes in NS and a better pathway for senior athletes looking to be professional. We can look towards Japan where the athletes are employed to work 3 hours a day on full pay and get the time to train as well.
Currently you’re an economics student. Have you ever thought of life after athletics. Will you pursue a career related to what you’re majoring, or are you still keeping your options open. What does the future holds for you?
Gary: I am a business student, for now majoring in marketing and operations. Probably looking to go into operations side for the future.
Gary Yeo circa year 2008 as he receives recognition for his effort and pursuit in athletics.
SEA Games 2015, do you have plans to still be competing by then?
Gary: Yes, to compete at Sea Games 2015 in front of home crowd at the new National Stadium would be a good experience and also a good farewell for me.
Lastly any advice to young budding youth athletes out there thinking, and are currently pursuing an athlete-student similar to yours.
Gary: Work hard and have the belief to go far.
The Republic 4x100m men relay quarter on the podium for the SEA Games 2011 edition.
Gary is scheduled to compete in the 100m men preliminary round at the XXX Olympic Games on 4th of August, Saturday 10:00am London time, or 5:00pm Singapore time. We are +7 hours ahead of London.
You might want to read these too:
New Singapore men 4x100m record at Asian Grand Prix
Report Card for Gary Yeo and Dipna Lim at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor C’ships
Team Singapore Results – Asian Indoors C’ship 2012
Nominations for London 2012
Gary Yeo & Dipna Lim-Prasad IAAF World Champ debut