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SEA GAMES 2019: Silver in hand Joel eyes more Kurash exposure

03 December 2019
Philip Goh

By his own admission, Kurash is a new sport for Joel Tseng, and indeed to many at the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines.

The folk wrestling sport that originated in Central Asia made its major Games debut at last year’s Asian Games in Indonesia, and is being competed for the first time at the Southeast Asian Games.


Joel Tseng in action during the under-73kg competition. Photo Credit:SNOC

It was probably around that time that Joel Tseng picked up the sport, at the suggestion of his former judo coaches, and how he has made strides.

At the Laus Group Events Centre in San Fernando City, the 24-year-old made full use of his grappling skills to win two out of his four bouts, picking up the silver medal in the men's under-73kg event.

And he had to do it the hard way.


Joel Tseng counted on his past judo experience to gain an advantage. Photo Credit: SNOC

After losing his opening bout to eventual gold medallist Vu Ngoc Son (10-0), Tseng beat Lloyd Dennis Catipon (3-0) from the Philippines to put his first win on the board. The victory came at a price as Tseng suffered a suspected collarbone fracture after Catipon fell on him during the match.


“The adrenaline was pumping at the time so I didn’t feel any pain at first,” said Tseng, of the right collarbone injury. “But my shoulder started to hurt like mad when I cooled down.”


After getting taped up by the team physiotherapist, Tseng went out for his third bout where he got in the points early and clung on for a 3-0 victory over Thailand's Natee Chokchiewchan. Tseng lost his final bout 10-0 against Ryan Ramadhan on Indonesia but had done enough to secure the silver medal.


“Against the Thai, I knew I had to score first. I was already half dead by then but my past competition experience helped as I was able to run down the clock,” said Tseng, who in 2013 became the first Singaporean to win a match at the judo World Championships.


Joel Tseng is Singapore’s first medallist in kurash. Photo Credit:SNOC


“After that win, I knew that the result from the final bout wouldn’t have mattered. But we were still hurried into the golden score (sudden death) by the umpires, and he got the win over me.”


Speaking about the medal, Tseng said he did not know what to expect going into the competition and was out to do his best, and it has been an invaluable experience.


“I was really excited to come to the SEA Games. I learned so much from the first match against the Vietnamese, he was really very strong and had some moves I could learn. He really deserved the gold medal,” said Tseng, a banking and finance undergraduate at the Singapore Institute of Management.


Tay Wei Huah took part in the under-66kg event. Photo Credit: SNOC


“I think if I continue going for competitions, I will be able to gain more tactical knowledge against better opponents, even something basic like assessing their strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly, how to deal with them tactically.”


Singapore's other kurash athlete, Tay Wei Huah, competed in the men's under-66kg but lost all his bouts.

Tags: Major Games

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