C'Wealth Games: Contrasting fortunes lift the spirits of Chua and Wong

C'Wealth Games: Contrasting fortunes lift the spirits of Chua and Wong
Lewis Chua rewriting the clean-and-jerk mark with 182kg.

One will return home having broken the national record and the other with his spirit unbroken despite finishing last.

Singapore saw its first weightlifters at the Commonwealth Games in 24 years on Thursday, as Lewis Chua and Scott Wong took part in the above-105kg category.

Chua rewrote the Republic's clean-and-jerk mark, improving on the 180kg he heaved in March this year at the Singapore National Open to 182kg at Glasgow's Clyde Auditorium.

Together with his 133kg snatch attempt, the 22-year-old recorded a 315kg total to be placed 10th.

Wong, on the other hand, lifted 135kg in the snatch, but failed in his three 165kg clean-and-jerk attempts to end up in last place. The competition was won by Canada's George Kobaladze, who hoisted a Games record of 400kg.

Despite his last-placed finish, Wong earned applause from the audience as he continued to compete even though his abdominal muscles cramped up and he pulled a muscle in his lower back.

Showing The Straits Times his palms, peppered with blisters and calluses, the former national discus thrower still felt vindicated in his decision to switch sports.

He had traded in his discus for barbells 10 months ago after the Singapore Athletic Association could not fund his flights to compete at the SEA Games in Myanmar last year.

"Absolutely no regrets," the 23-year-old University of Manchester medical student insisted.

"I had spent so much effort and money training to represent my country, so it was disappointing that they could not pay for my travel. Small as the weightlifting federation is, it is still able to fund me. The organisation is really showing what it can do."

Wong, who would like to eventually specialise in sports medicine or orthopaedics after graduation, added: "I'm not going to hide it, I am in this sport to win. There is no point going to competitions that are of low standards. I want to tackle the big competitions and win. "At this Commonwealth Games, I've seen what the professional standards are and it really opened my eyes."

Although the sport is in next year's SEA Games on home soil, Wong is looking further ahead.

Slated to graduate in 2016, he wants to take a break from his studies next year to focus on weightlifting.

Currently, he trains with the Team Manchester Weightlifting Club and communicates with Singapore national coach Wu Chuanfu via WhatsApp messages and e-mailing him two to three videos daily to fine-tune his technique.

He said: "I have to look long term. I'm so new to the sport and I need more technique."

As for Chua, he said that having broken the national record, he wants more. "I'm just so happy that Singapore is back on the weightlifting scene at the Commonwealth Games after 24 years. We are not here for the fame. People wonder why do we put up with the pain of training, but this is our hobby," he said.

This article was first published on August 2, 2014.
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