Debutant Mark is Singapore’s first slalom champ in 18 years
Debutant, 17, breaks Games record thrice to win Singapore's first slalom gold in 18 years
He smashed the SEA Games record on Friday.
Yesterday morning, he rewrote it again.
By the end of yesterday's waterskiing programme at the Bedok Reservoir, Singapore's Mark Leong had broken the Games record in the men's slalom event for the third time.
While it was surely no mean feat, the lanky 17-year-old debutant made it look easy.
He held his nerve as Indra Hardinata breathed down his neck in the final.
His teammates and coaches stood on the banks with hearts in their mouths as the Indonesian rounded two buoys with a 12-metre line at the maximum speed of 58kmh.
But true to form, Mark, who was last to leave the starting dock, did not even need to finish his third pass.
As he turned smoothly past the third buoy with the 12m rope, the Catholic Junior College student pumped his fist in the air, his first SEA Games gold secured.
The aim of the slalom event is to go around as many buoys as possible in a zigzag manner (each pass has six) with the shortest rope length and fastest speed.
"It almost feels unreal still," Mark said after the event, his braces showing as he broke into a boyish grin.
"After I got around the third buoy, I was so overwhelmed.
"There definitely was more pressure (being the favourite) because more people expected this from me. Out there, I just had to keep my cool."
Not since Roger Koa's three-gold haul from the men's slalom, tricks and jumps in 1997 in Jakarta has Singapore struck gold in the men's events.
Mark took a sabbatical this year to train for the Games and was thrilled to improve on Koa's legacy.
On Friday, he cleared 2.5 buoys at 58kmh with a 12m rope to surpass Indonesian Wangka Fath Daud's 1997 Games record of one buoy with the same speed and rope length.
Yesterday, he improved on his record again in the slalom finals (three buoys with a 12m rope) and in the slalom preliminaries (for the men's overall event), where he rounded four buoys with the 12m line, setting a new national record as well.
"Last night I almost couldn't sleep because I was so excited," Mark said.
"I had my eyes on (breaking the record again)... but my coach told me records mean nothing."
Still, it was nice to have his name in the record books.
"I hope it can stay for a long time, maybe I can improve on it next time."
Alongside waterskiing's newly minted golden boy, wakeboarding poster girl Sasha Christian helped Singapore sweep both slalom golds.
She clinched the women's individual wakeboard event on Friday and made it two golds in two days yesterday, winning her individual slalom event in style.
Going past three buoys at 55kmh on a 13m line, Christian defeated second-placed Indonesia's Ummu Thoyibhatus Sholikah, who managed only one buoy.
Another Singaporean, Kalya Kee, picked up the bronze, rounding five buoys with a 14.25m rope.
"I have never wanted (the waterskiing gold) more," said Christian, 22, who had finished second in 2011.
Winning Singapore's first Games gold in women's slalom has given her the confidence to pursue both wakeboarding and waterskiing.
"I wasn't very sure about splitting my time between both disciplines, but today confirms it's possible to keep going forward."
More golds could come from Mark and Christian today in the wakeboard team finals and the men and women's waterski overall finals.
"Our sport is very individual," said Christian. "But this is the time for the team to come together and I have such a great team.
"I believe we can do something good."