Turning initial woes into success

Singapore's Jonathan Lio on his way to third place in the only Laser 4.7 race on the final day of the Asian Open Laser Championships yesterday, to seal victory in the event.
Singapore's Jonathan Lio on his way to third place in the only Laser 4.7 race on the final day of the Asian Open Laser Championships yesterday, to seal victory in the event.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Jonathan goes off course in early races but coach's pep talk spurs him to Laser 4.7 title

He had sailed in the wrong direction during the earlier races of the inaugural Asian Open Laser Championships and dropped out of medal contention.

Singapore sailor Jonathan Lio almost gave up hope at excelling in the Laser 4.7 competition at the National Sailing Centre, but righted his course after a pep talk from his coach and constant reminders to himself that the regatta was not over yet.

It worked a treat, as the 16-year-old Raffles Institution student won the event, despite finishing third in the only race yesterday.

He entered the final day of racing yesterday at the top of the fleet with a nine-point lead over Abdulmalik Al Hinai, and sealed the victory with 33 points while the Omani had 38.

Jonathan told The Sunday Times how he forgot the course during the first race on the second day of the March 2-9 regatta, saying: "I was doing very well for those (earlier) races and then because of my forgetfulness and negligence in not checking the course, it caused me to drop (out of medal contention).

"I was super disappointed in myself, and it made me so determined and motivated that I finished first in every single race after that."

Recalling how he picked himself up after falling behind, Jonathan said: "(I told myself) we're not even halfway through, there are still three quarters of the regatta left.

"In a marathon, that would be the first few kilometres and there's still a long way, so it's still possible to catch up."

The memory of recovering from that hiccup was how Jonathan kept his composure yesterday, even as his heart was still beating fast from the nerves he had at the beginning of the day.

It is also a memory that has boosted his confidence for future regattas, as "it really showed me nothing is impossible, that no matter what happens during or before the competition, there's always a way to catch up".

Jonathan was the only Singaporean winner yesterday. The other races saw two-time Olympian Keerati Bualong win the Laser event, while his fellow Thais Kamolwan Chanyim and Arthit Mikhail Romanyk topped the Radial and Radial boys' fleets respectively.

Some 64 sailors from 15 countries participated in the regatta, previously called the Asia Pacific Laser Championship.

Two years ago, the International Laser Class Association decided that Asia was ready for its own regatta and that Oceania would hold its own, according to ILCA Asian Region chairman Aileen Loo.

She believes this new competition structure will benefit the growth of Laser sailing, saying: "There are new countries in Asia like Cambodia and Vietnam that are starting to develop (their sailing programmes) and there are also countries that are more developed, so we feel we can now concentrate on tailoring programmes to Asia."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 10, 2019, with the headline 'Turning initial woes into success'. Print Edition | Subscribe