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Sailing: Malaysia stun Singapore
Optimist sailors, favourites to win gold, lose to Malaysia
Singapore, hosts of this South-east Asia (SEA) Games, is widely recognised as the top nation in the world in sailing's Optimist category.
The team were expected to battle reigning world champions Thailand in the Team Racing Optimist (Under-16) competition yesterday off the waters of the National Sailing Centre.
Nobody told the Malaysians about the script, as their Optimist sailors pulled off the upset of the day, taking top spot to stun the home crowd at East Coast Park.
After a rain delay that pushed all the morning races to the afternoon, the Malaysian team faced Thailand in the final round-robin contest, with Singapore waiting for the gold-medal challenge, which was a best-of-three contest.
The hosts are favourites as they had beaten the Malaysians in Saturday's round-robin contest. Malaysia lost the race, but gained from the lesson.
Said Malaysia coach Mohd Hafizi Roslee: "We learnt a lot yesterday when we lost to Singapore and we used that in (round robin) Race 6 against Thailand.
"Actually, the race against Thailand (was more crucial that the gold-medal race). We knew that if we could beat the Thai team, we would go to the final, but (being in) the final was a bonus for us, no matter what colour the medal was."
In the gold-medal play-off, the Malaysians came out strong with a one-two finish that secured them the first of the three races.
With the sun finally out of the clouds and shining relentlessly on the waters off National Sailing Centre, the second race got underway with the Singaporeans having no room for error.
In a dramatic competition, one of the Malaysian dinghies collided with a Singapore dinghy, but there was no disqualification because there was no damage to the Singapore boat.
After the end of the second race, there was a long pause as each team gathered in the water to hear the result.
When the winners of the second race was announced, the Malaysians raised the roof.
"We didn't know about the result because we were out at sea and we could hear only what was being announced.
"For the second race, I was quite shocked we won because I thought we had lost and could prepare for the final one," said a delighted Hafizi.
Mohammad Fauzi Kaman Shah, 13, one of Malaysia's Optimist sailors, said: "I'm happy (about the victory). We were ready to race and wanted to win, I wasn't nervous because our team are as strong as the Singapore team."
Singapore acknowledged their opponents' superiority on the day, but skipper James Koh promises a comeback.
He vowed: "We will come back stronger the next time we race against them."
"Our team is still young, they have a lot more to show for in the future. Malaysia are worthy winners. In the SEA Games every team is a threat, and anything can happen."
Singapore team manager Terence Koh, after the hosts' Optimist sailors were stunned in the battle for team gold by Malaysia
Lindswell Kwok lives up to reputation to land gold medal
Indonesian world champion lives up to her billing
She is one of the best in her sport, winning world titles in taijiquan and taijijian.
One of a handful of reigning world champions to feature this South-east Asia (SEA) Games, Indonesian Lindswell Kwok's pure and elegant routine was heads and shoulders above her competitors, as she won gold in the women's optional taijiquan with a score of 9.73 at the Singapore Expo Hall 2 yesterday.
Vietnam's Tran Thi Minh Huyen was second with 9.69, while Malaysia's Chan Lu Yi took bronze with 9.65.
Those watching would have been surprised to learn that Kwok's first four years practising wushu were filled with resentment.
She was only nine when elder brother Iwan helped her pick up changquan, a fast and forceful form of wushu.
"My coach, Master Supandi Kusuma, said I was too soft," recalled the 23-year-old Indonesian.
"I was just a kid then and I didn't like wushu because there was so much discipline involved - I had to run, lift and practise when other children were playing and enjoying themselves."
Kwok switched to taiji, a slower form of wushu, and made great strides.
"When I was 13, I started to pay more attention to the graceful movement of my seniors when they competed, and I aspired to also win medals for my country," she told The New Paper.
Such ambition requires huge sacrifices, though.
"From 15 to 20, I didn't go to school so that I could train full time, " said the doe-eyed beauty.
"I didn't have a normal teenager's life. I trained twice every day from Monday to Sunday for five hours each session.
"And my brother didn't allow me to have any relationships.
"I also had to cope with knee injuries."
Kwok went on to conquer in the world championships in 2009 and 2013, and has been undefeated at the SEA Games since 2011.
She said: "If we don't have dreams and targets, we will just pass each day aimlessly.
"I want to be a champion.
"That's why I practise even when I'm tired or injured or just don't want to."
Kwok loves the SEA Games, because she loves representing her country.
Her eyes light up when she talked about this year's world championships and the 2018 Asian Games.
Kwok exclaimed: "They will be in Indonesia! Whatever it takes, I will go.
"The Asian Games gold is one I have yet to win. It would be truly special if I get to win it at home."
If we don’t have dreams and targets, we will just pass each day aimlessly. I want to be a champion.
— Women’s optional taijiquan gold-medallist Lindswell Kwok