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