SINGAPORE: Too hot. Too cold. Too polluted. Too much good food.
These are some of the factors athletes have to consider when acclimatising in any country, ahead of a major competition such as the Olympics.
For athletes, adjusting to a change in environment is more than just getting used to the climatic conditions.
Usually, it takes one day of adaptation for every one hour of time difference between two countries.
So for Team Singapore athletes, they’d need a minimum of eight days to acclimatise in London, though coaches will make the final decision on when their teams will make the trip, in the hope of striking at the right timing.
Singapore Sports School’s Swimming Academy head coach Barry Prime says the swim team will be in London between 10 days and two weeks before the start of their competition.
"If they’re there too long, the athletes can get bored. If they’re not there long enough, they run the risk of not acclimatising," explains Mr Prime.
Apart from getting used to the time zone, athletes have to also acclimatise themselves to their living environment.
"The Olympics is an intense, focused event representing the culmination of years of preparation for coaches, organisers, officials and athletes," says Singapore Sports School deputy director of sport John Limna.
In one Village, you’ll find 10,000 athletes plus officials; they will live, sleep and eat in close proximity to their team mates and competitors.
"Young, inexperienced athletes —— some as young as 16 —— at their first Olympic Games will rub shoulders with household names and multi—millionaires from the industry. Imagine seeing the US Basketball Dream Team stars, Roger Federer or Lionel Messi casually walking past your dormitory?" Mr Limna says.
"Also, food is available 24 hours a day, which will be a major temptation. There’s also intense media focus, huge crowds, expectations from friends, family and the nation.
"Knowing this environment, preparing for this environment, and adapting to this environment will be critical to an athlete’s performance."
Since each Olympic experience is unique, team managers and coaches will have to gather as much information as possible “ from checking on the Olympic Village to studying the transportation, and competition and training venues —— before the teams head for the host country.
Despite all the pre—planning, the teams from athletes to officials need to also to prepare themselves to expect the unexpected.
At the 1996 US Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia athletes had to overcome heat and humidity.
More recently, the hopes of some Singapore swimmers came to a screeching halt at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India, when the relay team’s race registration was held up by traffic in New Delhi.
Although the list of unexpected could now be quite expected, Mr Limna is confident of the acclimatisation of the Singapore athletes at the Olympics.
"Given that Singapore is hot and humid compared to London, the climatic adaptation is potentially easier. UK summers can be varied in weather conditions. They can be cool and wet... with temperatures ranging between 25 and 30 degrees. However, if the summer this year is particularly cool, athletes may not find this comfortable.
"For first—time athletes, it will be the other environmental factors which they need to prepare for, such as a busy Olympic Village, shared rooms, a large dining hall which opens 24 hours a day."
Although it’s tough to give examples of how effective acclimatisation led to a team’s improved performance during competitions, Mr Limna says acclimatisation shouldn’t be taken lightly.
"The Olympics is the culmination of years of hard work... And being prepared for these is one of the ways athletes and coaches can enhance their chances of success.
"Not doing so puts all the years of hard work at risk."
The Olympics begin 27 July.