Shock, then delight, for synchro swimmer Soh
Synchro swimmer Soh wins Singapore's first SEA Games gold in KL, but not before announcer reads out wrong scores
For 37 seconds yesterday, Singapore's synchronised swimmer Debbie Soh went through a gamut of emotions, from shock to confusion to relief, and finally hope.
The 19-year-old was the second athlete in a field of eight to perform her solo free routine at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil, and strutted back to the pool-side platform afterwards to learn her score.
Her name flashed on the electronic screen across the pool from her, and while the scores did not appear, the announcer read out a set of scores that added up to 73.3333 points in total.
"I was shocked when I heard the initial score, I hadn't scored 73 in this event for a while, and from recent competitions my scores have ranged between 74 and 76 points," Soh told The New Paper yesterday.
There was a pause of 37 seconds before the correct overall score of 75.0000 was read out, and reflected on the scoreboard, by which time Soh had exited the platform and was waiting at the sidelines with national head coach Maryna Tsimashenka.
Soh said: "I was confused when I walked off... and I was more comfortable when the right score was announced; it wasn't my highest score for this event, but I felt that it was closer to how I did."
Tsimashenka, who was standing beside Soh at the sidelines, was the first to react when the latter was later confirmed the winner of the event, hugging her athlete tightly as Soh's teammates joined in the embrace.
It was Singapore's first gold medal at the 29th SEA Games, and a culmination of months of training and overseas competitions, such as the Fina World Championships in Budapest last month.
Soh said: "We (Tsimashenka and I) cried tears of joy, because I have been struggling with this event now and then in competitions this year."
Home favourite Lee Yhing Huey took the silver with 74.7000 points, while Singapore's Miya Yong took the bronze with 73.0333 points.
Soh and Miya, 17, were part of the Singapore team that clinched the nation's first-ever SEA Games gold in the sport, in 2015 on home ground, when they won the team technical and free routine.
They were also part of the team that won the team free combination at the OCBC Aquatic Centre then.
Soh and Miya were also in action in the Malaysian capital last night, but finished second (73.8253 points) and third (72.3769 points) respectively in the solo technical routine.
Malaysia's Gan Hua Wei pipped Soh to first place with a score of 73.8386 points.
Soh said: "Although I felt that I did the best I could, I can't help but feel a little sad because the (winning) margin was just 0.0133 points.
"My coach's feedback on both my routine and hers (Gan's) was that I beat her in some areas, but she had improved quite a bit in others from the Fina World Championships, such as presentation.
"Also, she (Gan) didn't compete this morning."
Miya and Soh will be in action again today in the duet technical routine finals, as well as the duet free routine and team free routine finals on Sunday.
Asked to sum up her day, Soh said: "It has been a really long day, and an emotional roller coaster for me."