Sight by side to the bronze
Tandem para-cycling pair Tan and Lee secure Singapore's first Asian Para Games cycling medal
Tandem para-cycling requires a visually impaired athlete relying on his or her sighted counterpart for guidance, but Emily Lee and her pilot Sarah Tan tried to communicate as little as possible with each other during the Asian Para Games 72km road race (B) yesterday.
Their reduced communication did not hamper their performance, however, as the pair finished third in 2hr 25min 33sec at the Sentul International Circuit to clinch Singapore's first Asian Para Games cycling medal.
Tan noted that they had to battle the heat and wind in addition to their opponents, saying: "I just gave Emily commands and she followed through because we wanted to minimise as much energy wasted on talking as possible."
Lee revealed she had been nervous before arriving in Jakarta.
"But when I reached the Asian Games village the atmosphere here lifted me so I didn't feel as nervous after that," she added.
"There were lots of performances here, which made me feel happy, so I didn't think too much."
Yesterday's distance was the longest the pair have covered in a competitive race, and Lee, who is blind, said teamwork and mental preparation were key in getting through the race.
"(I told myself) I must be able to last till the end and I knew that if I could, we had a chance to win the race," said the 48-year-old, who reminded herself to focus on the process as per the advice of her coaches and teammates.
"I focused on my breathing and just pedalled in a circular motion instead of rocking the bike. If you're tired sometimes you may rock the bike, so I tried my best to be focused, listen to my pilot's instructions and follow the cadence."
To Lee, the most difficult part was the hot weather. She and Tan, 28, kept their cool in more ways than one - they started the race with ice packs at the back of their jerseys to cope with the heat.
Tan stressed that their achievement was a team effort, noting that the support of their coaches, bike mechanic and teammates were key throughout the race.
The pair were Singapore's most bemedalled athletes at last year's Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur with five medals, one of which was gold - Singapore's first cycling title at the biennial Games.
Para Cycling Federation of Singapore president Christian Stauffer lauded their performance as a "stunning job", noting that their feat is a result of their dedicated and meticulous approach to training.
“I just gave Emily commands... we wanted to minimise as much energy wasted on talking as possible.”Pilot Sarah Tan on how she and visually impaired partner Emily Lee communicated
Lee and Tan will next compete in the track events - the 3,000m individual pursuit and 1km time trial - and Stauffer believes they are in good shape to excel.