Not many people may remember this, but a biomechanist contributed to Joseph Schooling's Olympic win last year.
Although Schooling often finished poorly, compared with his US idol Michael Phelps, Mr Ryan Hodierne, a biomechanist at Singapore Sports Institute, drew out the best in the Singaporean swimmer by using science to improve Schooling's technique.
From next year, students at selected schools will have a chance to learn about biomechanics and its role when the current physical education (PE) O-level subject is replaced.
A new exercise and sports science subject will take its place offering a deeper insight into how the body works during exercise.
The new subject will look at various aspects of sports science, including sports psychology, the Ministry of Education told The Straits Times.
Students will also learn the concepts behind movement and motor skills to perform physical activities and how to find ways to improve performance.
Students at selected schools, entering Secondary 3 next year, can opt for the subject.
The ministry said the move is to offer students "more options that can engage their interests and strengths".
Currently, 18 schools, including Sengkang Secondary and Catholic High School, offer PE as an O-level subject.
Every year, about 300 students take it at the O levels.
They can use their PE grade to apply for entry into post-secondary education institutions, like any other O-level subject.
Over 30,000 students sat for the O-level exams last year.
The current PE subject comprises 60 per cent sports coursework and 40 per cent theory.
It is not easy to snag an A grade. Consistency is key, said North Vista Secondary student Serena Sim, who has PE as one of her O-level subjects.
"Besides revising theory concepts, we have to go out and practise for the practical aspect," noted the 15-year-old, who is in the school netball team and will be sitting the O levels this year.
At her school, the number of students taking PE at O levels has jumped from 20 in the pioneer batch in 2009 to 80 Secondary 4 students this year.
Mr Yon See Kian, head of department for PE and CCA at North Vista, said: "Sports skills take time to grasp. They have to keep pushing themselves."
Coaches here said the subject gives students keen in sports careers a head start.
Fencing coach Henry Koh said it can help produce a larger pool of individuals with expertise in sports.
Students are tested in various areas. For the practical component, for instance, their sports skills are assessed via the use of videos. One relevant skill they will pick up - analysing ways to boost physical performance. Like what Mr Hodierne did for Schooling.