Yu Mengyu stood on the lowest step of the podium after earning an Asian Games joint-bronze in women's singles table tennis, but she is leaving Jakarta with a higher level of confidence than when she arrived.
Despite losing 11-7, 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7 to Chinese world No. 5 Wang Manyu in yesterday's semi-final, Yu was pleased with her breakthrough at the Aug 18-Sept 2 Asiad after enduring two injury-plagued years.
Fighting back tears, she said: "I have gone through a lot since going under the knife (in November 2016) and this is the first time in the last two years that I have played an opponent of such high quality. So I'm very pleased to have been able to play the way I did here."
The world No. 47 said she was not nervous during the match, but felt "stifled" by the 19-year-old Wang, the eventual gold medallist.
"I found some solutions through my serves to win the fourth game, but she caught on to that in the fifth game and I was slow to adapt."
While she was not entirely satisfied with her semi-final performance, winning her first individual Asiad medal - and Singapore's only table tennis medal at these Games - has boosted her confidence for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"This is a good starting point as my standard has rebounded. We must seize the opportunity to enhance my strengths and patch up my weaknesses."
Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) president Ellen Lee acknowledged that, while she was disappointed that the sport could not bring home more than a bronze, she was pleased that Singapore's paddlers did their best.
The paddlers won three bronzes (women's singles, women's team and men's doubles) in 2014.
Lee added: "Looking at (the 2020 Olympics), more effort than the usual will have to (be put in) because it's two years to go.
"We've seen the performance of the Asian countries... it's going to be tough, but not impossible."