SEA Games: Singapore captures first gold in Philippines thanks to wushu's Yong Yi Xiang

Yong Yi Xiang finished first in the men's changquan event with a score of 9.70. PHOTO: SNOC / KONG CHONG YEW

SINGAPORE - Yong Yi Xiang's biggest critic is himself, and after a disappointing outing at October's World Wushu Championships in Shanghai, he returned to Singapore frustrated and filled with self-doubt.

It was a low period in his sporting career, he admitted on Sunday (Dec 1), but also made him determined to bounce back.

The road to recovery begun at the World Trade Centre in Manila as he clinched the men's changquan title with 9.70 points, ahead of Malaysian Wong Weng Son (9.68) and Vietnam's Tran Xuan Hiep (9.60). Yong's compatriot and defending champion Jowen Lim came in sixth with 9.53 points.

There was a nervous 10-minute wait for Yong after his 100-second routine. He was eighth in the 10-man field to perform.

Only after Malaysia's Yeap Wai Kin and Indonesian Edgar Xavier Marvelo had completed their routines was Yong, who captured gold in this event at the 2015 Games in Singapore, confirmed as champion again.

Yong, who was inspired to pick up wushu after watching films staring martial arts stars Jackie Chan and Jet Li, said: "When I received my score, I was in shock and disbelief.

"There was definitely some anxiety (while waiting) but I'm just glad that I managed to performed to my normal training standard, which was something I wasn't able to do at my previous competition."

That his victory was also Singapore's first gold at this year's Games in the Philippines made the day even sweeter for Yong.

He said: "It took a while to wrap my head around it.

"It is a great honour; it's every athlete's dream to fly our country's flag high at these competitions."

Team manager and former wushu world champion Vincent Ng paid tribute to Yong's work ethic and said: "He is very hard working athlete and expects a lot from himself.

"After the disappointment in Shanghai, he was mentally well-adjusted today and didn't have a lot of pressure.

"It'll definitely give him more confidence in the rest of the events."

Getting over the world meet, where Yong finished 23rd of 88th competitors, required a lot of support from those closest to him.

"People around me encouraged me, they placed no blame on me at all and I really found the strength to bounce back," he said.

Yong will compete in the daoshu and gunshu categories on Monday and the duilian final on Tuesday.

He said: "This gold medal has given me my confidence back.

"I'm now focusing on what I have to do to keep myself on track physically and mentally and work it into competition."

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