It was his fourth and final Asean Schools Games and, with a new partner, the odds were not looking good for Andy Kwek to improve on his previous-best bronze-medal performance. But he and Jason Teh managed to reach the badminton boys' doubles final.
Unfortunately, gold proved a step too far for the Singaporeans, as they went down 8-21, 17-21 to Chang Yee Jun and Ng Eng Cheong, beaten by the Malaysians' superior experience and chemistry. Nonetheless, the makeshift duo found solace in securing the Republic's best-ever result in this ASG event.
"To come this far is already a good achievement. Jason normally plays singles, and we trained only two or three times together before the competition," said Andy, who is also the boys' team captain.
They dug themselves into a hole after a nerve-racking first set which eventually proved too much to overcome. Said Andy: "We were playing much better in the second set after we found our composure but it was a bit too late by then."
The hosts proudly earned a team silver on Monday, also a first for the boys, after losing to Malaysia 0-3.
The team's spirited performance came as a pleasant surprise to their coaches, who lauded their charges' diligence and determination.
Fellow coach Samuel Sim pointed to the semi-final on Sunday as an example of the team's camaraderie.
"The boys whitewashed Indonesia 3-0 and I think that's never been done before by a Singaporean team at the youth level," he said.
"They lost to the same opponents in the singles, so (the team victory) speaks volumes about their togetherness."
Malaysia continued to dominate proceedings at Our Tampines Hub, clinching four out of five individual golds and missing out only in the boys' singles, which was won by Indonesia. They had beaten Indonesia 3-0 to win the girls' team event.