Waterskiers Leong, Christian out to retain golds
Singapore waterskier Mark Leong believes he is competing against himself when he sets out to defend his gold medal in the men's individual slalom event at the Water Sports Complex in Putrajaya today.
The 19-year-old stormed the slalom preliminaries yesterday, matching his SEA Games record of clearing four buoys at 58kmh with a rope length of 12 metres, to go into the finals as the top-ranked qualifier.
Speaking to The New Paper in a phone interview, Leong said he will be attempting to break his own mark, which he set two years ago.
"The slalom event is my main event and it is the only one I train for," said the 19-year-old Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student.
"Putrajaya is notorious for bad waters and weather conditions. But the conditions will affect the rest of the skiers as well. I do not think too much about retaining my gold medal from 2015, or worry about people's expectations.
"My focus will be the key to retaining my gold. There will be many distractions on game day, so the challenge is to keep my focus and replicate whatever I have achieved in training.
"If things go well tomorrow and circumstances such as the weather permits, I will definitely be gunning for my own record.
"The biggest competitor I face is myself, and it is going to be a fight within."
His compatriot, Sasha Christian, managed to rewrite her Games record in yesterday's preliminaries by clearing one buoy at 55kmh with a 12-metre rope. She is also the defending champion in the women's event.
The 24-year-old said: "All my focus is on the slalom because it is my last event. I will be going last out on the dock tomorrow, and the skiers from Indonesia and Malaysia are respectable, so there is a little bit of pressure.
"But I have my game face on, and I am tuning everything out to do my job tomorrow."
Singapore's other competitors in the final day of the waterski competition today are Ng Sim Hwee (men's trick finals) and Sabelle Kee (women's trick finals).
Singapore's waterski team have won one gold, one silver, and two bronze medals so far.