When asked about her goal for the 8th Asean Schools Games (ASG), 15-year-old gymnast Tan Sze En exchanged a hesitant glance with team-mate Nadine Joy Nathan yesterday, suggesting: "Should I say it?"
Sixteen-year-old Nadine nodded, and Sze En replied, after taking a deep breath: "I want to win the individual all-around gold medal and retain our team gold."
About 30 minutes later, Sze En's dreams were achieved as the results of the women's artistic gymnastics competition were finalised, delivering Singapore's first two gold medals at the ASG.
The Singapore team comprising Sze En, Nadine, Mei Togawa, Kiera Lau and Colette Chan topped the team event with a final score of 189.65.
Sze En, Nadine and Colette also finished in the top three at the individual event, but the Republic was denied a clean sweep as only two representatives from each country could stand on the podium. Sze En (gold) and Nadine (silver) were given medals.
Speaking to The Sunday Times at Rajamangala University of Technology in Chiang Mai, where the gymnastics competition was held, Sze En said: "I finished second during my first ASG in 2013 and didn't get a medal at my second ASG the next year, because the top two were from Singapore.
"I feel so happy that my hard work paid off."
The Raffles Girls' School student is also relieved that her side recovered well from a shaky routine on the uneven bars. "We were all quite nervous for the bars, especially because we'd only trained for a day before the competition," she said. "But I'm glad we managed to focus on what we were supposed to do after that."
Fellow RGS schoolmate Kiera admitted to feeling nervous before the competition, but buoyed by her team's victory, the 14-year-old is determined to perform better at the apparatus finals today.
"My aim was to get more experience as this is my first major tournament, but I could've done better for the individual event," said Kiera, an ASG debutant.
"We did well for the team event today, so hopefully I will be more confident in my performance tomorrow."
Clinching the team silver and bronze respectively were Vietnam, who scored 176.8, and Thailand (171.4).
Thailand's Thidaporn Khanthara scored 45.95 to finish third in the individual event, behind Nadine (47.25) and Sze En (50.45).
Singapore's swimmers delivered three bronzes and one silver at the swimming event at Chiang Mai's 700th Anniversary Sports Complex. Team manager Mark Ng was pleased with his charges' performance.
"For swimming it always comes down to the finals because in the heats you may have done better, but in the finals everyone really wants the medals and the wins are always very close," said the 44-year-old.
"But medals are secondary. The two most important things to me are that they should qualify for the finals, and post new personal best times."