Fairy-tale ride for Janine

 Fairy-tale ride for Janine
WELL DONE: Janine Khoo (top and inset) getting a hug from team manager Monique Heah after winning the gold.

NAYPYIDAW - From a smashed cheekbone to breaking a 30-year gold drought at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

Little wonder family, friends and the coaches of Janine Khoo were overcome with emotion after the 16-year-old won the show jumping gold here yesterday at the Wunna Theikdi Equestrian Field.

Indonesia's Jendry Palendeng, riding atop Gunderman, would have forced a jump-off for gold with a similarly clean second round, but knocked down the final fence to spark whoops of joy and celebration in the Singapore camp before the waterworks.

Thailand's Jaruporn Limpichati, who rode Just a Snip, beat Jendry to the silver in a jump-off.

Tears flowed in the Singapore camp, after Janine put in a masterful display on Australian stallion CP Safari to clear all 10 fences in round one, and then eight fences in round two without a single fault.

"Oh, stop crying," said Janine, happy and a little embarrassed.

Speaking to The New Paper before the Games, the teenager had revealed the full extent of the injury after she was thrown face-first into the frame of a fence at the National Equestrian Centre more than two months ago, 10 days before her O-level examinations.

It required reconstructive surgery, the insertion of four titanium plates and a wire mesh and 21 stitches to restore the right side of her face.

The doctors did such a remarkable job that there were no obvious signs of damage to her face.

"It's something I'd rather forget," she told TNP, after her win yesterday.

"It was a really painful experience but even then I was determined to complete my O levels and compete at the SEA Games.

"I also had two clean runs in the team event, so I knew I had a shot. But winning gold is still more than I expected and it took a while for the feeling to sink in.

"My horse was both brave and careful and we just fed off each other's energy to clear all the fences."

Ironically, Peter Abisheganaden, who was the last Singaporean to win SEA Games gold in an individual equestrian event back in 1983, was the course designer at Naypyidaw.

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