There were just 14 schoolboys who competed at the Schools National gymnastics competition in March.
Five of them have now earned the bragging rights that they are the schoolboy champions of South-east Asia .
The quintet of Ryan Lee, Lincoln Forest Liqht Man, Zac Liew, Jibreel Khaleel Hussein and John Sim made history for Singapore yesterday by winning the Republic's first-ever boys' gymnastics team gold at the Asean Schools Games.
The hosts scored a total of 283.350 points, ahead of Thailand (268.816) and Malaysia (265.932), to clinch the title. Singapore Sports School's 17-year-old Lincoln (72.300) and St Joseph's Institution's Secondary 4 student Zac (71.850) finished one-two in the individual all-around competition.
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Even though the local boys' gymnastics scene has not been prolific over the past few years, they have proven that they are still a force to be reckoned with in the region.
SEA Games-bound Ryan, 18, said: "We proved that we can be a niche sport that Singapore can be proud of."
It was a perfect day for Singapore's gymnastics contingent as they swept all four gold medals on offer on the opening day of competition at the Bishan Sports Hall.
WE PUSHED ON
We proved that we can be a niche sport that Singapore can be proud of.
RYAN LEE, 18, who is in the national team going to Kuala Lumpur for next month's SEA Games.
The girls' team retained their team and individual all-around titles, as Josephine Mei Ng, Mei Togawa, Nydia Heng, Shayne Tan and Lim Sze combined for a total of 183.050 points, ahead of Thailand (163.450) and Indonesia (157.983).
Nanyang Girls' High student Mei scored 47.350 points to become the individual all-around champion, while Raffles Girls' School's Josephine won the silver with 46.650 points.
With the apparatus finals still to come today, the boys have already surpassed last year's tally, in which they finished with a team bronze and two individual bronzes.
The victory was especially sweet for Lincoln, who had never won an individual medal in two previous editions of the meet (in 2014 and 2016). In the 2016 edition in Chiang Mai, he finished fourth in the vault and fifth in the horizontal bar.
Up till yesterday, Singapore's only gold in the boys' competition came in the 2011 edition held on home soil, when Timothy Tay won the horizontal bar gold.
A beaming Lincoln, whose mother is from Indonesia, said: "After all the frustration of twice not being able to bring home an individual medal, I was really motivated to get something today.
"I think I performed a nine out of 10 today."
As for Zac, the individual silver showed that he has put his injury setbacks behind him. He had hurt his neck in 2015, and then fractured his back last year, and was out for six weeks in May after hurting his back again.
The 16-year-old, who won a floor exercise bronze last year, said: "I've shown myself that I have the potential to perform well because sometimes, I would doubt myself."
Ryan added: "It feels great to be part of this history-making team. We had almost no falls in the scores that counted towards the team scores, all of us were hitting our routines."