Asean Para Games: Dominant Yap wins it for her mum

Yap Qian Yin clinched nine of the 10 Hansa 2.3 races for a huge nine-point winning margin. Jovin Tan and Anthony Teo, 71, won the Hansa 303.
Yap Qian Yin clinched nine of the 10 Hansa 2.3 races for a huge nine-point winning margin. Jovin Tan and Anthony Teo, 71, won the Hansa 303. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Shifting herself in her wheelchair just before receiving her medal, Yap Qian Yin took a deep breath, then pursed her lips tight. Perhaps, if she kept her breath from escaping, the emotions she was feeling inside would be contained as well.

The moment was clearly an emotional one for the 25-year-old sailor, whose strong showing over three days of races saw her crowned champion in the Asean Para Games (APG) women's Hansa 2.3 event.

It was vindication, for few had believed that the bold decision to go solo would reap rewards for Yap, who had competed in double-handed boats all along.

But it was mostly pride.

This time, for the first time since she started sailing in 2011, mum was watching.

Mum saw how skilful, how independent and how capable her daughter was.

"At the start, there were a lot of doubts. It was a really big step forward," Yap recalled yesterday of her decision to sail solo. "Should I? Did I make the right choice? People were criticising, saying (I) might not be ready, (I) might not win gold."

Not only did she finish tops, she also did it in dominant fashion, winning nine out of 10 races for a huge nine-point lead over her closest competitor.

She was the youngest among the four entered for the event, and at Class 3, is also the least functional.

The Philippines' Cherrie Samonte Pinpin and Clytie Orencio Bernardo claimed the silver and bronze respectively.

Said Yap, whose gold was Singapore's 50th medal of these Games: "Proving (my critics) wrong is also proving myself as well."

But rather than sail to prove to her naysayers what she was capable of, it was really her mother whom Yap was putting on a show for.

Slightly emotional as she spoke of how much her mother's presence at the regatta meant, she said it was neither her superb showing nor the gold medal around her neck that was her greatest takeaway.

She said: "It's not results. It's seeing my family, and my mum especially, coming down to support me."

In all, Singapore bagged two of the three golds on offer, with veteran Jovin Tan's partnership with debutant Anthony Teo - Singapore's oldest athlete at 71 - paying dividends in the double-handed Hansa 303.

Malaysia's Nurul Amilin Balawi and Mustafah Junell took the silver while Singapore's Glen Tan and Desiree Lim settled for the bronze.

Jovin had partnered Lim in the Para World Sailing Championships in Melbourne just last week where they qualified for the Rio Paralympics. Both returned to Singapore just days before the APG began.

Going into yesterday's races, Jovin and Teo held a one-point lead over the Malaysians while Glen and Lim were a further point behind.

Having mentally prepared himself for two intensive back-to-back regattas, Jovin said it was the unfamiliarity of the Marina Bay waters that actually posed a greater challenge.

"We had limited chances to train here and we're not familiar with the waters. The conditions are very tricky - the wind comes and goes and it's very unpredictable," he said.

Indeed, a day after the races went on without a hitch, the sailors endured a wait of more than six hours before the first race of the day successfully commenced at about 4.30pm.

The women's Hansa 2.3 and Hansa 303 events managed to get in two races yesterday.

But the lone men's Hansa 2.3 race that was scheduled was abandoned owing to a lack of wind.

Singapore's Aaron Per picked up a bronze in the event to take the Republic's tally to two golds and two bronzes, the top-performing nation at the sailing competition. Malaysia took the other gold.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline Asean Para Games: Dominant Yap wins it for her mum. Subscribe