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Singapore world champion kitefoiler Max Maeder takes spotlight in stride ahead of Olympics debut

SINGAPORE: Home in Singapore for about 10 days in June, back-to-back world champion kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder picked up an award, enjoyed his local food fix and spent time with his family.

But there were other obligations which the 17-year-old had to handle.

“It was a surprising amount (of interviews). It was more than usual,” Maeder told CNA over a video call from Marseille, France, where he's been training ahead of the Paris Olympics.

With his stunning consistency on the water, Maeder’s star has steadily risen over the last year. And with that has come increased media attention.

“I’m not a celebrity. I'm just someone who likes doing kitefoiling and perhaps in Singapore has gotten a little bit more attention than usual, but I think it's nothing crazy," said the well-spoken teenager.

"I get to speak about what I find nice about this sport and how I can bring value to more people.

"But in the end ... it still doesn't distract me; the amount of things I do still doesn't distract me from quality training and quality improvement in preparation."

Maeder’s achievements in recent times are certainly eye-catching.

In May, he successfully defended his kitefoiling crown at the world championships - the fifth event he's won in a row.

At the Singapore Sports Awards on Jun 3, the Asian Games gold medalist won the Sportsboy of the Year honour for the third consecutive time.

Now ranked third in the world, Maeder will be a medal contender when kitefoiling makes its Olympics debut come August.

Singapore has not clinched an Olympic medal in eight years, since Joseph Schooling took gold in the 100m butterfly at Rio 2016.

Maeder, however, isn't too concerned about being labelled a favourite. It's a "fair assessment" but not something he has