Joy and tears for S'pore's canoeists
SUZANNE Seah and Stephanie Chen bagged Singapore's first canoeing gold at the SEA Games yesterday, clinching the women's K2 500m event.
The duo, silver medallists in the same event at the 2011 SEA Games, finished in 1min 56.61sec, more than two seconds ahead of runners-up Aye Mi Khine and Naw Ahlelashe of Myanmar. Thailand's Woraporn Boonyuhong and Pattraluck Phumsatan were third in 1:59.73.
But just 30 minutes after the euphoria of victory, Chen was left weeping after finishing fourth in the K4 500m event, together with Geraldine Lee, Annabelle Ng and Wilona Lee. That race was won by hosts Myanmar.
Said Chen, 22, who was also part of the 2011 side that came second in the event: "The K4 500m, we really tried a lot. We tried so many combinations and this was the one that worked best. I was hoping that it would be enough."
The close-knit team, who stood in embrace after reaching shore, wanted to win gold and give Wilona a memorable farewell.
The 21-year-old third-year medical student at the National University of Singapore aims to focus on her studies after the Games.
Still, the Singapore team found reason to cheer after finishing the day with one gold, one silver and one bronze.
Brandon Ooi, despite a bad start, staged a come-from-behind effort to finish in 1:55.74 and claim third place in the men's K1 500m. The 19-year-old, who was thrown off his momentum by huge waves at the whistle, said: "A big wave hit me from the start and I had a very bad start.
"Everyone shot out in front of me and I knew I needed to salvage something from it."
Ooi, who languished between fifth and sixth positions, slowly made up ground to finish behind Thai winner Kasemsit Borriboonwasin (1:51.36) and second-placed Thanh Quang Nguyen of Vietnam (1:51.81).
His team-mate, Geraldine, was also troubled by the strong winds and currents. She failed to defend the women's K1 500m, clocking 2:07.73 to finish second behind Indonesia's Erni Sokoy (2:06.09). Thailand's Kanokpan Suansan was third in 2:08.89.
Said the 26-year-old, Singapore's first canoeist at the London Olympics last year: "I started out okay. But midway I was affected by the strong waves. But it's really the same for everyone in the race."