Singapore's Chelsea Sim won the Women's Individual Poomsae Final for Taekwondo, overwhelming her opponents with a score of 8.00 and 8.00 in her first and second Poomsae performance respectively.
Chelsea Sim and Kang Rui Jie. Photo credit: Leong A C/ SINGSOC
Kang Rui Jie from Singapore also put forth two spectacular Poomsae performances, achieving an average score of 8.135, emerging first in the Men's Individual Poomsae Final. Both their gold medals are the hosting nation’s first since the 1999 SEA Games held in Brunei.
They also won a bronze medal as a competing team in the Mixed Team Poomsae event.
Q: How do you feel about winning the first gold medals after the 1999 SEA Games?
Chelsea: I feel very honored and it has been a humbling experience for us.
Rui Jie: Same as her, we are very humbled. Also, this will promote Taekwondo (TKD) in SIN more, since we have managed to clinch medals after 1999.
Q: How did you prepare for the Games?
We train six times a week, two hours per session.
How old are both of you?
We’re both 20 this year.
How long have you been practicing TKD?
Chelsea: I have been practising since I was 11years old and Rui Jie, since 10 years old. We have been practicing Pair events for almost 6 years.
Fierce pose by Chelsea Sim. Photo credit: Woon Wai Meng/ SINGSOC
What are you currently doing?
Rui Jie: I’m a student at Temasek Polytechnic.
Chelsea: I’m studying at Singapore Management University.
Are you both single?
Rui Jie: I’m single! Are you going to find someone for me (laughs)? Chelsea is actually quite busy, so I’m the one who needs advertising.
Chelsea: No need! It’s complicated (laughing)
What makes you take on Taekwondo as a sport at such a young age? What makes it special and why do you love it?
Chelsea: For me it was my elder sister, she saw the Singapore TKD team training at Aljunied CC near my house, so she asked me to join the team with her. I found my passion there. My coach saw the potential in me, pushed and encouraged me, so that I am able to achieve greater heights. It became a part of my life, and I love doing it.
Rui Jie: For me it was the discipline. When I was in secondary school, I wasn’t very well-behaved. Training in Taekwondo, you have to be very disciplined. My face wasn’t very appealing; everyone says I look very fierce! Actually I’m a nice guy, but everyone says that I look like a gangster! It gives people a very bad first impression (jokingly). Please write that down!
Kang Rui Jie in action at the Games. Photo credit: Woon Wai Meng/ SINGSOC
Chelsea (chips in): So that people will know now that he’s a nice guy! And he’s still single! (laughs)
For Chelsea, you competed with a pre-existing condition. What are some of the difficulties you faced?
Yes, I was born with a hole in the heart. After I joined TKD, it make me stronger, so I don’t get sick too often. But sometimes during rigorous training, I’ll feel breathless and resume training only when I feel better.
How do you like the Games so far?
The home crowd really makes it so much more…? How do you say it? More confident?
It makes it more energetic! As we are a very small team, when we go overseas, the feeling is different when our teammates cheer for us. I feel it’s louder and more energetic, with the huge crowd cheering for us. We feel more secure and confident.
Anyone to thank for your successes?
Long list of people - The Singapore Taekwondo Federation, Sport Singapore, family, friends, coaches, our schools who also supported us, and basically, all of Singapore!
Last question, what are some words of encouragement you can give to aspiring TKD competitors?
Chelsea: Never give up and pursue their dreams.
Rui Jie: Train hard. One day they will shine!
This author of this article is a volunteer content producer with Team Nila. For more content produced by Team Nila, please head to the 28th SEA Games Social Wall.