Asian Games 2018: Jakarta & Palembang, Aug 18-Sept 2

Wrong tune but Chen still on song

China's Chen Yile, who won the gold medal in the women's individual all-around competition yesterday, feels there is still room for improvement.
China's Chen Yile, who won the gold medal in the women's individual all-around competition yesterday, feels there is still room for improvement.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA • It is one of the worst nightmares any gymnast can face before their routine - having the wrong tune blare through the speakers - but when you are a 16-year-old prodigy, nothing fazes you.

China's Chen Yile overcame a musical mix-up in the gymnastics hall at the Asian Games yesterday to bag the gold medal in the women's all-around competition, with team-mate Luo Huan securing second spot.

Chen was due to begin her floor exercise when a song - not the one she had chosen - began filling the arena in Jakarta.

The teenager, who won the Gymnastics World Cup in Melbourne earlier this year and is the reigning Chinese National Games' all-around champion, was forced to wait for several minutes as officials scrambled to correct their mistake.

She remained calm and collected on the edge of the mat, and she promptly finished first in two out of the four routines - balanced beam and floor exercise - for a winning score of 55.950 points.

"It was fine actually, I prepared for this. It's an international competition so anything can happen. You can't change it, so you have to adapt yourself for it," she said.

The Chinese youngster added that while she was "excited to get gold", there was still room for improvement and vowed to turn in an even better performance in the team events.

"I can do better today. I have to work ever harder to compete for the World (Artistic Gymnastics) Championships later this year. That's the real game, with all the best athletes around the world," she said.

Compatriot Luo grabbed silver with 54.550 points while North Korean Kim Su Jong took home the bronze with 53.600 points.

Elsewhere in Palembang, a large blaze broke out right next to the Games site yesterday as firefighters scrambled to prevent clouds of smoke from affecting the competition events.

Helicopters scooped up water to douse the flames in fields bordering the sports complex while dozens of firefighters on the ground also helped to extinguish the blaze, as athletes competed close by in shooting and beach volleyball.

The fire, however, did not faze another 16-year-old, with Indian shooter Saurabh Chaudhary proving that age is no impediment to success after securing the first major title of his career in the 10m air pistol competition yesterday.

His 240.7 - a Games record - put him ahead of Japan's Tomoyuki Matsuda, who scored 239.7, and fellow Indian Abhishek Verma's 219.3.

It was India's first shooting gold medal of the Games and Chaudhary's achievement prompted Indian cricket great Virender Sehwag to tweet: "What were you doing when you were 16?"


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2018, with the headline 'Wrong tune but Chen still on song'. Print Edition | Subscribe