Singapore's wakeboard golden girl stamps her class to win gold
Sasha overcomes the elements to strike gold for Singapore
One down, three to go.
For this SEA Games, the Singapore Waterski and Wakeboard Federation had set an ambitious target of four gold medals out of the 11 available for the nine-strong Singaporean team.
Yesterday, Sasha Christian - the pin-up girl of Singapore wakeboarding - delivered the first.
On a gloomy afternoon at the Bedok Reservoir where the persistent rain, strong headwinds and choppy waters made it extremely tough for the competitiors, Christian braved them all to win the women's individual wakeboard final.
While she could not match her semi-final score of 61.45 points, the 22-year-old Singaporean still left the rest trailing in her wake with her winning score of 59.00 points.
Indonesian Galuh Mutiara Maulinda finished second with 43.11, while Filipino Jawn Maiquel Selga took the bronze with 30.89.
Another Singaporean, Gooi Jia Yi, came in fourth with 30.22.
"It was a good start," said wakeboard coach Tan Suter after the victory ceremony. "It boosted up the morale of the whole team.
"Sasha is the backbone of our team, so it's good for her to lead by example."
The 44-year-old added: "I think she did pretty well given the conditions."
Despite the bad weather, Christian managed to pull off a stand-up pass, completing all her tricks without falling into the water.
The last to go onto the water in the six-woman field, Christian was able to complete two more successful inverts than the rest, flipping upside down in the air and landing convincingly.
"An advantage for me was that I went off last from the dock, so I could see what all my rivals did, and I knew exactly what I needed to do to win," Christian said.
"I knew I needed to do at least three inverts, so after my pass, I was really happy and very relieved as well.
"My first trick was the toughest trick to land, because it kind of sets the momentum for the rest of the competition pass."
"I like to start off my competition with a bang."
Winning her second wakeboarding gold medal at the SEA Games after collecting her first in Indonesia in 2011 (there was no water-skiing competition at the 2013 Games in Myanmar), Tan said Christian can achieve greater things.
"She has got a lot more tricks actually, but she was holding them back. It was already enough to win the gold medal," he said.
"She needs to step it up just a touch if she wants to reach Asian standards. She's not that far behind."
For now, Christian's more pressing task is to help Singapore win more golds.
She topped both her semi-finals in the women's team wakeboarding and the women's slalom events yesterday, the latter of which could land her and Singapore another gold.
The slalom finals will be held today.
In 2011, Christian finished second in the event.
"She put in more effort in training for the slalom (for this Games)," said Tan.
"She really wants a gold in this event."
While Christian has certainly lived up to her tag as wakeboarding's golden girl, her teammates also stepped up yesterday.
Sabelle Kee won a bronze in the women's tricks competition and, in the process, set a new national record of 2,620 points.
The 17-year-old Games debutante beat the previous record, set by her mother May Lwin-Kwee in 1997 by 300 points.
"I am super stoked because I didn't expect it at all," Sabelle said.
"Of course, my mum's a bit sad," she added jokingly. "But she's proud of me."