Taekwondo exponents Sim and Kang get a big kick out of fans

Home support spurs them to clinch taekwondo golds, ending 16-year wait

OVER four short minutes each, with every stance, every kick and every punch in the individual poomsae events, Singapore's Chelsea Sim and Kang Rui Jie chipped away 16 years of anguish to triumph in taekwondo since S. Sinnathurai won in the men's kyorugi flyweight event in 1999.

World champion Rinna Babanto, was blown away by 19-year-old Sim, whose confident moves in the women's event earned her 8.000 points to push her Filipino rival (7.480) to silver.

Just as impressive was 20-year-old Kang's poised display in the men's event that earned him 8.135 to stand top of the podium, ahead of Indonesia's Maulana Haidir with 7.635.

Little wonder that Singapore Taekwondo Federation president Milan Kwee is looking forward to a bright future for the sport, saying: "We are quite fortunate to have these two exceptional kids.

"They have sacrificed a lot and have been disciplined to train so hard and get the gold despite having to juggle their studies at the same time. We hope this win will help us build a pipeline of talent for the future."

National coach and four-time SEA Games gold medallist Wong Liang Ming added: "It's a great achievement for us, it's been a long wait.

"I told them today the stage is theirs and to blow the competition away."

To make the day even more special, Sim and Kang paired up to score 7.720 to share a bronze with Thailand after the mixed pair poomsae final, behind Vietnam (7.885) and Malaysia (7.785).

Also, kyorugi exponents Ng Ming Wei (men's 54kg) and Chew Xin Wei (women's 46kg) are assured of bronzes. In the semi-finals, Ng lost to Indonesian Reinaldy Atmanegara 7-21 while Chew was beaten by Filipino Irene Therese Bermejo 29-5.

Sim, a Singapore Management University undergraduate, was quick to credit her support system for her win, saying: "It was a very humbling experience when I heard the national anthem.

"All this success is attributed to help from my family, friends, coaches, the federation and all who supported me."

Kang, who is studying aerospace electronics at Temasek Polytechnic, said: "The support from the home crowd made the difference, it really pushed us on."

It remains to be seen if the team can emulate their best SEA Games showing in 1993 - five golds, four silvers and four bronzes - but coach Wong is already delighted with yesterday's haul.

She said: "I was hoping for one gold but two is a bonus.

"Rui Jie was exceptionally good today; he was very focused, his patterns were very stable, his forms are almost perfect."


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