No. 1 again

No. 1 again
JUBILANT: Singapore's Optimist Sailing Team celebrating after getting their trophies at the IODA Asian Optimist Championships.

Singapore cemented its place as one of Asia's top sailing nations after retaining the Overall Asian Championship at the IODA Asian Optimist Championships in Manama, Bahrain on Saturday.

Lu Junrui and Phua Shyn Ee emerged as the top Asian boy and girl sailors at the competition respectively.

Junrui, 14, bagged the gold in the boys' division after finishing in front of China's Wang Jie and Thailand's Yampinid Master Sulton while Shyn Ee, 15, overtook the Chinese duo of Yu Huijiao and Qiu Xiaoming to take top spot in the girls' division after starting the final day in fifth place.

Turkey's Rasim Yasar was named the winner of the overall fleet race, as Junrui won silver and Shyn Ee finished with a bronze, which means the title of best Asian boy and girl sailors went to both Singaporeans.

A day earlier, Singapore had occupied two of the top four places in the Team Racing event.

Singapore, along with Japan and Malaysia, fielded two teams and finished second and fourth among 16 teams.

The combined results from both the fleet and team racing events see the Republic emerge as the top team, retaining the Overall Asian Championship title won last year.

Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) general manager Chung Pei Ming credited the success to the sailors occupying half of the top-10 spots in the overall fleet race.

CREDITABLE

In addition to Jinrui and Shyn Ee, Koh Yi Nian (5th), Samuel Neo (6th), and Ryan Kwok (7th) also delivered creditable showings.

Issac Tang (12th), James Koh (17th), Marsha Shahrin (25th), Jodie Lai (30th), and Raynn Kwok (34th) complete the rest of Singapore's line-up, who were among more than 120 who competed in Bahrain.

"Emphasis should be put on how broad our base is," Chung said.

"The number of sailors we have in the top 10... bodes well for Singapore sailing's future."

The former national sailor added that trials for the Asian Games have not begun yet, but members of the Singapore contingent in Bahrain stand a chance of competing in Incheon, South Korea in September.

Sailing was one of three sports - the others being bowling and swimming ­- that accounted for Singapore's four golds at the 2010 Guangzhou Games.

INCHEON BOUND

It is also among the sports given the green light by the Singapore Natioanl Olympic Council on Friday to compete in Incheon.

Chung said the SSF would take its sailors' rankings after the National Championships in June, and make its selection for the Asian Games based on the results of a regatta at the end of June.

The Singapore team, their Peruvian coaches Fernando Alegre and Javier Figueroa, and team manager Soh Ling Ying, returned home late last night.

msazali@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 7 in The New Paper.

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