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Historic performances buoy Team Singapore at the 27th SEA Games

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The 27th edition of the biennial Southeast Asian (SEA) Games proved to be equal parts tumultuous and triumphant for Team Singapore athletes, with unexpected wins and losses happening in the country’s capital, Naypyidaw, and keeping supporters here at the edge of their seats in anticipation.

Taking place from 11 December through 22 December, SEA Games 2013 has given the Singapore much to celebrate about - as well as learn, as the Republic will host the next edition, in 2015.

Among others, the sports of Athletics, Archery, Basketball, Cycling, Diving, Equestrian, Rowing, Shooting, and Traditional Boat Racing have done our country proud by securing medals for the first time in decades.

First up, Singapore marathoner Mok Yi Ren made history in the Republic’s running scene when he bulldozed past competition to clinch gold in the 42km run. Sprinting past the finish line with a timing of 2hr 28min 36sec, the 25-year-old ended a dry spell that has lasted 30 years, in the year Singapore last hosted the Games. Singapore last obtained a gold in a running event at the Games in 1983.

Another athlete who broke a 30-year-old record is Archer Chan Jing Ru. The 23-year-old surpassed expectations by achieving gold in the Women’s recurve individual event, with a score of 6-4 against Indonesia’s Titik Kusumawardini.

One athlete who did well in the face of adversity is cyclist Dinah Chan, whose Gold medal in the women's 30km individual time trial event made history as the first cycling medal in 16 years.

The 27-year-old was involved in a serious road accident earlier this year in September, having been hit by a car while training along East Coast Park. However, she was undaunted by the setback and just after a short few months of recovery, emerged victorious at the Games.

Similarly, the local equestrian scene also enjoyed a breakthrough with Janine Khoo cruising to a gold in the individual show-jumping competition, despite her having suffered a major horse-riding accident just a couple months prior to the Games.

With two rounds of having no penalties, the 16-year-old bagged the first gold for Singapore since 1995, when Team Singapore won for the team event in Chiang Mai.

Another young athlete who made his mark was Youth Olympic Games diver Timothy Lee, 19, who together with his twin brother Mark Lee, managed to secure a Silver in the men's synchronised 3 metre springboard - and taking home the first diving medals in 28 years as a result.

Mark also shone on his own, clinching a Silver in the individual 3m springboard event.

In rowing, Saiyidah Aisyah Mohamed Rafa'ee also snared a Gold in the women's lightweight single sculls 2,000m event. The 25-year-old, who is the only rowing representative for Team Singapore, clinched the Republic’s first rowing gold since 1997 at the Ngalike Dam in Naypyidaw.

She finished with a timing of 8min 8.94sec, after recovering from her earlier position of third place during the last 500 metres of the race.

Other note-worthy wins include shooter Nicole Tan’s Gold in the 25m Women’s Pistol event, which, as Singapore’s first ever Shooting medal, has been heralded as the major milestone for the sport.

Also unexpected was the Gold from Muhammad Nur Alfian Juma'en from Silat, who defeated world champion Pham Van Ty from Vietnam in the Men's Class F (70-75kg) category.

Not wanting to miss out despite competing on the second last day of the Games, judoka Ho Han Boon fought to the top to clinch the Republic’s first Gold in Judo since 1989. The 24-year-old heavyweight came out triumphant in the Men’s over-100kg category.

Some athletes also made history in their own right, even without winning gold medals.

One example is hurdler Dipna Lim-Prasad, who clocked in a national record time of 59.96 seconds in the 400 metre hurdles event. The last national record, registered at 60.36 seconds, was also set by Dipna in October 2013.

Besides setting a time record at the SEA Games, the 22-year-old’s personal and national feat also marked the first time the Republic managed to get a podium finish in the event.

Also from the sport of Athletics, sprinter Shanti Pereira set a new National record in the Women’s 200m Sprint when she clocked 24.12 seconds in the heats. Although the 17-year-old did not leave the Games with a medal, the feat marks a potential to shine in future Games.

With this edition of the Games, a majority of young debutants, making up more than half of the total number of athletes, took a shot at representing the country. Out of the 167 athletes who participated in SEA Games for the first time, 141 were aged 21 and under.

These youngsters did the nation proud by contributing significantly to the medal count. Out of all the debutants, 92 contributed to 47% - or 51 medals - of the total medal haul.

In total, Singapore achieved 108 medals consisting of 34 Gold, 29 Silver and 45 Bronze at the Myanmar Games. At the 28th SEA Games in 2015, Team Singapore contingent will be looking forward to home crowd's support to better their medal achievements. 
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