Three weeks ago, Kiria Tikanah Abdul Rahman was bitterly disappointed with herself while watching her national team-mate Esther Lai win Singapore's first-ever gold medal in the junior (Under-20) category at the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships.
Competing in the same women's epee event, the 16-year-old Raffles Institution (RI) Year Five student was knocked out in the round of 16, a demoralising defeat that left her in tears.
"I was so sad and disappointed that I fenced so badly," said Kiria of the setback in Thailand. "I lost belief in myself."
Yesterday, she shrugged off those insecurities, as she bagged the Schools National A Division girls' individual epee title.
The top seed beat Singapore Sports School's Michelle Lee 15-6 in the final at the OCBC Arena.
A relieved Kiria said that the key to her comeback was to keep her gameplan simple.
A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM
I was so sad and disappointed that I fenced so badly. I lost belief in myself.
KIRIA TIKANAH ABDUL RAHMAN, Singapore national junior fencer, on losing in the round of 16 at the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships three weeks ago.
This competition is like a rehearsal and training for me to regain my confidence.
KIRIA, on winning gold in the Schools National A Division title.
She said: "I had used compound attacks (at the Asian Championships) - a combination of disengages and parries - which was more complicated. That was how I lost points.
"So for this competition, my coach told me to use direct and simple attacks."
She also credits her coach at Blade Club Fencing Singapore, Henry Koh, for helping her dispel her negative thoughts and strengthening her resolve.
Said Koh: "I sat her down and got her to talk at length about her pre- and post-bout mental processes.
"We realised that she was... letting her emotions get the better of her. So on a bad day, she can be emotionally vulnerable."
With the win, Kiria felt that she had repaid the faith her school had placed in her. The Crescent Girls' School alumna entered RI this year through the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme.
More importantly, the win has restored her confidence before she leaves next Thursday for the World Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships in Bulgaria from April 1-10.
She said: "This competition is like a rehearsal and training for me to regain my confidence."
Koh added that he is targeting a top-eight finish at the World Championships for Kiria.
He said: "She's moving more freely, and she's got a mental process ready to be implemented at the World Championships."