Jodie and 470 pair help turn the tide for local sailors

Singaporeans win to make up for previous disappointments competing at home

There were no wild celebrations for Singapore sailors Jeremiah Yeo and Darren Choy after confirming their victory in the men's 470 event yesterday.

No hugs, no high-fives, not even a fist pump as they pulled their sailboat ashore after the final race.

Yet, for Choy, 21, this SEA Games gold-medal triumph is particularly sweet, as it eases the disappointment of his performance at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) on home soil in 2010.

Then, he was highly fancied to land a first YOG gold for Singapore, having been a two-time world champion in the Byte CII sailing class in which he was competing.

However, the pressure to deliver proved too much then and he finished seventh.

Thus, yesterday's victory on home soil went a long way in healing those old wounds for Choy, as he admitted: "The feeling is really awesome.

"I was supposed to deliver on home ground last time but I couldn't.

"The only word that went through my mind was redemption."

Choy - who won bronze in the same event at the 2013 Myanmar Games - was keen to credit Yeo for the improvement in results.

He pointed out that their six years of friendship allowed for a good understanding and communication, which helped pave the way for yesterday's success.

With a four-point lead over second-placed Lester Troy Tayong and Emerson Villena of the Philippines before yesterday's final race, the duo could even have finished one place behind the Filipinos and still secured gold.

They finished third, just ahead of the Filipinos, and took the gold with 18 points to their rivals' 24.

The Thai pair of Thanaphong Kamonvat and Naveen Thamsoontorn settled for bronze with 25 points.

Said Yeo, also 21: "We were just watching the Philippines and defending our position. Once the race started, our anxiety turned into determination."

Later in the afternoon, Singapore secured their second sailing gold of the day in the female Optimist category through Asian Games champion Jodie Lai.

The 14-year-old finished with 13 points while Thailand's Klahan Kamonchanok and Malaysia's Nabila Natasha Nazri were second and third respectively.

Like Choy, Jodie had also managed to bounce back from a painful defeat.

Last Sunday, she was part of Singapore's Optimist team who were highly fancied to win gold but lost to Malaysia.

Said Jodie: "I gave my best and I couldn't improve any more even if I went back in time.

"I was most nervous at the last part of the race and I kept looking at Natasha. When I crossed the line in front of her, I felt very relieved."

The youngster was carried out of the water, while still in her dinghy, by her jubilant team-mates who have so far delivered seven golds for Team Singapore.

But, it was not all smooth sailing yesterday. Savannah Siew and Amanda Ng failed to land a medal after coming in last in the three-team women's 470 competition, finishing behind Malaysia and Thailand (only the top two receive medals).

Daniel Toh had to settle for bronze after being edged out by Thailand's Suthon Yampinid for silver in the boys' Optimist.

Malaysia's Fauzi Kaman Shah took gold after a first-place finish in the medal race.

Nevertheless, Singapore Sailing Federation president Ben Tan is pleased with the performances.

He added: "The victory in the 470 event is the most significant one because it is an Olympics Class event.

"Yeo and Choy have a tough journey ahead with tough competitions even in Asia.

"But they are up for it. I can sense it."

twtoh@sph.com.sg

hosr@sph.com.sg

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