Chelsea ends hosts' 16-year wait for taekwondo winner
Born with a hole in the heart, teenager ends Singapore's 16-year wait for a taekwondo gold
When Chelsea Sim ran out onto the tatami mat to celebrate her win yesterday, holding the Singapore flag wide across her back, her beaming face said it all.
The petite 19-year-old had not just clinched a SEA Games gold medal - but she also ended Singapore's 16-year wait for a taekwondo title.
With her win in the women's individual poomsae at the Singapore Expo, Sim also erased the disappointment of the 2013 Myanmar Games, where she had to settle for silver after narrowly losing to the hosts' Yamin K Khine.
Chelsea, who was born with a hole in the heart, stormed to victory at Expo Hall 2, scoring consistent 8.00s on both of her poomsae rounds for a total of 8.000 points.
She beat last year's poomsae world champion Rinna Babanto (7.480) of the Philippines, who settled for silver, and Indonesia's Habiba Mutiara Mutiara (7.365), who took the bronze.
Glowing with pride, Chelsea insisted her feat was not a one-woman effort.
"All this success is attributed to the fans cheering, support from the taekwondo federation, Sport SG, my coach, friends, family, teammates and everyone," said the 1.50m-tall exponent.
Chelsea's gold is Singapore's first for taekwondo since 1999 when S Sinnathurai won the men's kyorugi flyweight category.
And the nation did not have to wait long for another title.
Kang Rui Jie, battling in the men's individual poomsae event, followed in his teammate's footsteps by turning in his own gold-medal performance.
His final score of 8.135 put him well ahead of Indonesia's silver medallist Maulana Haidir (7.635).
Malaysia's Yong Jin Kung, the 2013 Games bronze medallist, was shaky in his first poomsae round and took bronze again with 7.305 points.
Rui Jie's win was a huge leap after he finished fifth in 2013, and he was at great pains to emphasise he had no magical elixirs to turn to.
"It's actually just train hard, push myself even harder, look at other countries and learn from their movements," said the 20-year-old, who trained in South Korea for three months last year with Chelsea and their coach, Wong Liang Ming.
The duo were unable to pull off a hat-trick in the mixed pair poomsae event, where they claimed bronze with 7.720 points.
Vietnam bagged gold with 7.885 points while Malaysia finished second on 7.785.
Singapore's national coach Wong, a four-time SEA Games champion, expressed her pride for her athletes.
Said Wong: "I don't know how to describe the emotion, it's like winning the gold yourself.
"Now that you see your charges winning it, it's a lot of satisfaction that you are part of their success, and with them throughout their journey."
She went on to say that Chelsea and Rui Jie had out performed themselves in their individual events.
"I told them that the stage was theirs and asked them to blow the competition away, and they did," said Wong.
Last night, exponents from the kyorugi team added two more medals to Singapore's tally, with Ng Ming Wei and Chew Xin Wei taking the joint bronze medals for the men's under-54kg and women's under-46kg respectively.
Wong hopes that yesterday's success will inspire more people to pick up taekwondo, especially the non-combative and demonstrative poomsae specialities.
Singapore Taekwondo Federation president, Milan Kwee, agreed.
"We look forward to more juniors coming in, we're trying to build a pipeline for that," he said.
"I hope that we will get more funding to further improve. I think we deserve more. As a sports organisation, we run a membership of over 20,000, so it's a mass participation that we are managing."
“I told them that the stage was theirs and asked them to blow the competition away, and they did.”
- National taekwondo coach Wong Liang Ming, on how her charges had out performed themselves to win gold
How does muscle rub work?
Muscle rub creams relieve overworked, strained, or sprained muscles. Most creams work by stimulating blood circulation to encourage muscle healing. The creams are designed to relax stiffness and get oxygen into tense, painful tissues and muscles.