Archery: Loh sisters back in the act, and on target

Contessa Loh (in orange) of the Flaming Arrows Archery Club and Ang Hwee Ying, 23, of Telok Blangah Archery Club facing off in the final of the Compound Women's category.
Contessa Loh (in orange) of the Flaming Arrows Archery Club and Ang Hwee Ying, 23, of Telok Blangah Archery Club facing off in the final of the Compound Women's category.ST PHOTOS: JASMINE CHOONG
From left: The bemedalled Loh sisters Carissa, Contessa and Vanessa, are hoping to compete in next year's SEA Games in the Philippines.
From left: The bemedalled Loh sisters Carissa, Contessa and Vanessa, are hoping to compete in next year's SEA Games in the Philippines.ST PHOTOS: JASMINE CHOONG

It was the first time in three years that they were competing as a trio at the Singapore Archery Open.

But the Loh sisters - Vanessa, Contessa and Carissa - showed no signs of ring-rust, picking up where they left off with all of them winning medals at the national meet, which was set this year against the backdrop of lush greenery that surrounds the Bukit Gombak Stadium.

The eldest of the three sisters, 25-year-old Vanessa, won the recurve women's individual gold, and the bronze in the women's team category. She also won a medal for topping the qualification round of the recurve women's individual competition.

Contessa, 24, won gold in the women's individual and team categories, as well as a silver in the compound mixed team. She also topped the qualification round of the compound women's individual competition.

Carissa, 22, won the gold medal in the women's team compound category alongside Contessa.

The trio have a younger sister, 18-year-old Gelissa, who was a champion archer at the schools level but she has since stopped competing.

"It feels great, really nice, to be able to compete together on the shooting line again, supporting one another," said Contessa.

All three sisters - who were introduced to the sport by their father, who felt archery was a natural equivalent to shooting, which had been one of his hobbies - have won medals at the Singapore Open since 2011, and represented the Republic on the international stage.

But, until recently, only Contessa - who competed at August's Asian Games in Jakarta - was active.

Carissa and Vanessa both took breaks from 2015, for two and three years respectively, to focus on their tertiary studies.

Carissa returned to competitive archery last year while Vanessa was inspired to return to action after watching Contessa go close to winning a medal at the Asian Games. She and Alan Lee lost 155-152 to an Iranian pair in the compound mixed-team bronze-medal match.

"Between sisters, we don't really tell each other, 'You are my inspiration', but I'm sure she knows!" said Vanessa, with a chuckle.

"Before watching her at the Asian Games, returning wasn't really at the forefront of my thinking but watching Tessa go so close to winning a medal really inspired us."

Contessa was thrilled at the prospect of competing alongside her siblings at the international level again. All three are in the fray for a spot at next year's SEA Games in the Philippines.

"Every time we go out on the field wearing the national flag, all of us are filled with pride, and it's a bonus to be able to do it with your sisters," she said.

The Lohs were among some 140 archers who took part in the three-day Singapore Open, which ended yesterday and included a smattering of Malaysians and Indonesians.

This year also saw Under-21 and U-17 divisions for the first time.

"We saw over 100 participants in the youth categories," said Archery Association of Singapore general manager Paul Wong, who said the youngest local competitor was under the age of 12.

"It's very promising that we have an active community of young archers, some of whom will go on to become national athletes."

The SE Archery Club emerged overall winners at the Singapore Open, with the Flaming Arrows Archery Club - whom the Loh sisters represent - second. NTU Archery club finished third while Telok Blangah Archery club were fourth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2018, with the headline 'Loh sisters back in the act, and on target'. Print Edition | Subscribe