Sea Games 2019

Tseng fights on with suspected fracture for kurash silver

Joel Tseng (in green top) was outfought by eventual gold medallist Vu Ngoc Son of Vietnam. The Singaporean took the kurash under-73kg silver with two wins and two losses in the five-man round-robin competition.
Joel Tseng (in green top) was outfought by eventual gold medallist Vu Ngoc Son of Vietnam. The Singaporean took the kurash under-73kg silver with two wins and two losses in the five-man round-robin competition.PHOTO: SNOC

Kurash fighter Joel Tseng landed hard on the mat yesterday and felt a sharp pain as Lloyd Catipon of the Philippines fell on top of him.

While the right-hander held on to take the men's under-73kg bout 3-0, a check by a Team Singapore physiotherapist revealed a suspected fracture in his right collarbone.

With two bouts left in the five-man round-robin contest, he was ready to throw in the towel.

But the taped-up Tseng dug deep and fought on, beating Thailand's Natee Chokchiewchan 3-0 before being routed 10-0 by Ryan Ramadhan of Indonesia.

The 24-year old Tseng's grit and determination were rewarded at the Laus Group Events Centre in San Fernando City. His two wins and two losses earned the Republic a first medal in kurash, a silver, at the SEA Games.

Kurash is one of nine debutant sports in the Philippines alongside beach handball, breaking (dancesport), e-sports, jiu-jitsu, sambo, skateboarding, surfing and underwater hockey.

"The adrenaline kicked in during my second bout and I couldn't feel it but the pain kicked in after that," he said after the victory ceremony.

Tseng, who will have an X-ray in Clark, said: "It was very hard for me to raise my right arm and I lost a 'weapon'.

"I thought of stopping but I was okay after taping the injury but it was pretty bad after the third round."

Tseng, who is pursuing a banking and finance degree at the Singapore Institute of Management, is a former judoka who competed at the SEA Games in Myanmar in 2013.

He switched to kurash a year ago after being introduced to it by his friends. It is a traditional folk wrestling sport with roots in Central Asia and its objective is to throw opponents on the ground on their back by grabbing the towel around their waist.

"I'm very happy to win a silver. I was hoping to get the gold but, after meeting the Vietnamese, he deserves it," said the Singaporean, who lost 10-0 to eventual champion Vu Ngoc Son.

"I hope this medal will help us promote the sport and we can get better exposure and more athletes."

Agreeing, Singapore's kurash team manager Elisha Sabai pointed out there are about 10 fighters back home. And he hopes there will be Singaporeans who can qualify for the 2022 Asian Games in China, with the sport having made its Asiad debut last year.

He added: "Hopefully we can continue at the next SEA Games and grow the sport as there is potential in it - we sent two athletes here and got one medal."

Singapore's other kurash representative, Tay Wei Huah, finished fifth in the men's U-66kg class after losing all four bouts yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2019, with the headline 'Tseng fights on with suspected fracture for kurash silver'. Print Edition | Subscribe