SEA Games 2017, Aug 19-30

SEA Games: In sync for second gold

Singapore's Miya Yong (left) and Debbie Soh performing their gold medal-winning duet technical routine.
Singapore's Miya Yong (left) and Debbie Soh performing their gold medal-winning duet technical routine.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Debbie's razor-thin loss in solo technical fuels drive to win duet with partner Miya

She had clinched Singapore's first gold medal at these SEA Games, but ingrained in Debbie Soh's memory was not just the glory of the gold but having to settle for silver.

The Singapore Sports School student had won the solo free routine on Thursday afternoon, but was denied a second gold in the solo technical by a mere 0.0133 that same evening.

But she used the sting of that loss to Malaysia, which coach Maryna Tsimashenka had blamed on unfair scoring, to roar back into the winners' circle yesterday.

Swimming to the groovy tunes of Spring Break by The McMash Clan featuring Kate Mullins, Debbie and partner Miya Yong scored 75.1791 points in the duet technical event to finish top among the eight teams.

Malaysian pair Lee Yhing Huey and Gan Hua Wei were second (74.3659), while Indonesia's Anisa Feritrianti and Claudia Megawati Suyanto took the bronze (68.9504).

"It was a blow to know that we lost out on Singapore's second gold medal for synchronised swimming by just (0.0133), but I took that as motivation to keep pushing forward," said Debbie, 19.

Said Miya, 17: "We're really happy to be able to win this gold medal for Singapore, and we'd like to thank our coaches and the Singapore Swimming Association for supporting us and helping us to win it."

At the previous Games in Singapore, Stephanie Chen and Crystal Yap were pipped to the gold by Lee and Katrina Ann Abdul Hadi in the same event.

Referring to that narrow loss in 2015 - Singapore scored 73.2905 while Malaysia's score was 73.5878 - Debbie said: "Being at these Games (and) finally being able to beat Malaysia in the duet event for the first time means a lot to us.

"Even though I got a silver (for the solo technical event) yesterday, getting gold for this puts us back on track in our quest to win more gold medals."

Miya, who won the bronze in both the solo free and solo technical, added: "I had Debbie to help me and encourage me so that we could do really well as a duet together."

"Really well" is an assessment Tsimashenka agreed with, saying: "They swam amazing today, from the coaches' side, this is the best one - no mistakes, no problems."

Silver medallists Lee and Gan, cheered on by about 100 home supporters as they performed their routine, admitted they were disappointed with their ranking but happy with their score.

Tearing up as she faced the media, Gan said: "(We have to) train harder. Train harder for the next event and we're looking forward to the next gold medal."

Lee added: "We were confident of getting high marks because we did very well as a pair, but sadly it's a subjective sport so we cannot control what the judges think and what (scores) they want to give us."

The medallists were presented with their medals by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who had arrived in the Malaysian capital the night before.

Praising Debbie and Miya's effort, he said: "It's a fantastic achievement on many grounds. This is the highest score that both of them have attained in all the various competitions that they've taken part in."

The pair will team up again for the duet free event tomorrow, before joining team-mates Gwyneth Goh, Hannah Chiang, Christine Mok, Shae-Lynn Tan, Ariel Sng, Rachel Thean and Vivien Tai for the team free routine in the evening.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'In sync for second gold'. Print Edition | Subscribe