Team Singapore’s Russell Kan, Justin Wong, Andrew Paul Chan and Maximilian Soh (L-R) celebrate after they won gold medal during J80 - Open Match Racing Final against South Korea (Photo by Jaewon Lee / Sport Singapore)
The medals just keep coming for Team Singapore as they celebrated winning their fifth Gold medal of the Asian Games on Wednesday, thanks to a sailing triumph in the J80 open match racing at the Wangsan Sailing Arena.
The team, skippered by Maximilian Soh and with a crew of Andrew Paul Chan, Russell Kan, Christopher Lim and Justin Wong, won both their matches against a strong South Korean team in the Gold medal match.
The victory completes an excellent Asian Games campaign for the highly-respected Singaporean sailing team which in total won three Gold medals, two Silvers and two Bronze medals.
Team Singapore’s Gold medallist Savannah Siew Kiah Hui reacts as she watches Singapore's sailing team win the gold medal at the J80 - Open Match Racing Final (Photo by Jaewon Lee / Sport Singapore)
On Tuesday, Jodie Lai Xuan Yi clinched Gold in the Optimist class, along with Kimberly Lim and Savannah Siew who won the in the Women's 420. The Silver medals came from the 29er Women's Two Person Dinghy, and Raynn Kwok in the Optimist Men's One Person Dinghy competition. The two Bronze medals came from the Men’s team - Colin Cheng secured his in the Laser while the 420 pairing of Loh Jia Yi and Jonathan Yeo also finished third.
Singapore Sailing Federation President Ben Tan was delighted with the medal haul and said it confirmed the strategy of developing a broad spectrum of talent, and was a just reward for hard work at many levels.
“Of course I am happy, you see the work bearing fruit here, but I know what went into planting the tree - a lot of effort,” he said.
“We look at things so comprehensively, on so many levels from the psychology of the sailors, the mental toughness, to how they draw up their training cycles, and our selection processes,” added Tan.
Tan said that the competition for places in the Singapore squad ensured that those that made the team were ready for the challenges they faced in Incheon.
“Selection is difficult. There are so many other Singaporeans you have to fight against. Going through the selection, you know that this person has got quality, and we have others as well, who can rise to the occasion at any time. If you can survive the selection, you can survive the stress,” he said.
The results of this work have been successes in several classes with younger and more experienced sailors securing medals.
Team Singapore's Christopher Lim, Russell Kan, Maximilian Soh, Justin Wong and Andrew Paul Chan (L-R) at the Incheon 2014 Asian Games (Photo by Singapore Sailing Federation)
“You have to have enough breadth to be competitive in several classes. You are not going to get Gold in every one of them but winning a few Gold, a few Silver and a few Bronze shows the depth and breadth present,” said Tan.
An Asian Games and four-times SEA Games gold medallist himself, Tan said the focus of the sailing team would now swiftly turn towards the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“Some of the Rio-bound sailors have been here. This is part of the preparation en route to the Olympics. They are stepping up their game and things are hotting up for Rio already - it is only two years to go. There are two qualifying opportunities – this year’s World Championships and next year’s World Champions. After that, we are on track, or slightly ahead,” he said.
“We are proud of the preparations. What we have been emphasising is to have an ‘Olympic campaign mindset’ - you are campaigning, you plan your logistics, you plan your race schedules and physical training and you just race and race and race. It is not about taking part in one event and then flying back to Singapore. That is not how a professional does it,” he said, noting that the mindset had born fruit in Incheon.