Zhang Yong Qiang
The best measure of a coach is the success of his athletes. For Singapore Sailing Coach Zhang Yong Qiang, his sailors medaled at both the Asian Sailing Championships and the Asian Games in 2006. Indeed, Zhang’s sailors were so successful that they secured his second consecutive award as Coach of the Year.
In March at the Asian Sailing Championships in the 420 class, sailors Low Wen Chun & Terry Tang and Sarah Tan & Lim Tze Ting picked up gold medals while Toh Liying & Tok Lee Ching and Roy Tay & Chung Pei Ming took bronzes in the 470 class. Held in Doha, the Asian Championships proved to be an auspicious sign of things to come.
Zhang’s students at the Asian Games in Doha in December won two more gold medals in addition to two silvers. Sarah Tan & Lim Tze Ting scored another gold medal in the 420 girls while Justin Liu and Sherman Cheng won in the boys’ event. In the 470 women’s, Toh Liying sailing this time with Elizabeth Tan won a silver medal as Xu Yuan Zhen and Terence Koh claimed a silver as well in the men’s.
Zhang takes a holistic view to coaching, employing a broad range of tools and techniques to bring out the best in his sailors. He uses psychology to ensure that they are focused and calm for competition. He monitors nutritional routines and enforces strength & conditioning programmes to keep his sailors fit and ready for all conditions. He uses sports technology in several ways to track and improve performance, including synchronized video analysis and heart rate monitoring.
At the same time, though, Zhang never loses sight of the fact that a great coach cannot rely solely on science to develop winning athletes. A great coach must manage the doubts and distractions that plague most athletes year-round. With his attention to detail, commitment to the sport and vision for his athletes, Zhang continues to instill Singapore’s young sailors with the faith that they can achieve great things.