Golden double for golden duo: Christian and Leong retain slalom titles
Waterskiers Christian and Leong retain slalom titles in fine style
Singapore waterskiers Sasha Christian and Mark Leong proved once again that they are South-east Asia's slalom kingpins after retaining their SEA Games titles at the Water Sports Complex in Putrajaya yesterday.
Christian was the last out of the docks in the women's individual slalom final and had to watch her competitors go before her, but that did not deter the 24-year-old.
Christian rounded 3.5 buoys at the speed of 55kmh with a rope length of 13 metres to pip 14-year-old Malaysian waterski prodigy Aaliyah Yoong (2 buoys/55kmh/13m) to the gold.
"It was extremely nerve-racking today," Christian told The New Paper yesterday.
"I anticipated the rest (of the competitors) to ski well and they put up tough scores to beat.
"But I just kept telling myself to focus on my own skiing and take each pass at a time, although the advantage of coming last out from the docks was that I knew exactly what I needed to do to win.
"When I cleared just enough buoys to get on top, I couldn't stop smiling."
"I have been putting so much emphasis on my slalom skiing since getting back on the water this year and I'm glad it showed," added Christian, who was sidelined from last July to January this year because of an impact fracture on her right shin.
"I'm really happy to retain the gold medal in slalom. I knew going into the competition, it would be tough and it could be anyone's game.
"But I am pleased to have won the gold for my country, there's no greater pride than that."
On her plans after the SEA Games, Christian said: "I'm going to spend a little more time on my wakeboard because the World Championships are scheduled for next February and I'm aiming to improve my tricks."
Leong added another gold for Singapore when he retained his men's slalom title by clearing three buoys at 58kmh with a rope length of 13m, ahead of Indonesia's Indra Hardinata who rounded 1.5 buoys to finish second.
Leong told TNP: "The conditions in Putrajaya were not the best, but it was enough to do well.
"Clinching the gold medal today was a huge relief. I managed to focus on my game plan that my coach Kohei (Yamaguchi) and I worked on."
The 19-year-old is now a two-time defending champion and he plans to maintain a stranglehold on the slalom title.
"For every SEA Games I go to, I hope to bring home the gold medal," said the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student.
Singapore also won a silver medal yesterday through Sabelle Kee in the women's individual tricks event.
Kee's score of 3,450 points broke her own national record of 2,620 points set at the 2015 SEA Games on home soil.
Malaysian Aaliyah won the gold in style with 5,880 points, while Indonesia's Nur Alimah took the bronze with 3,380 points.
Singapore's waterski team won a total of three gold, two silver and two bronze medals in Kuala Lumpur.