SEA games 2015: Best in Asia and South-East Asia

SEA games 2015: Best in Asia and South-East Asia
PROUD MOMENT: Jodie Lai receiving the gold medal and SEA Games mascot from president of the Singapore Sailing Federation, Ben Tan.

The feeling did not quite sink in for 14-year-old sailor Jodie Lai.

Her win in the female Optimist event at the National Sailing Centre yesterday puts her as Singapore's youngest gold medallist at the 28th SEA Games.

She was at a loss for words when asked about her achievement.

After a long pause, she said: "It's a happy feeling."

Entering yesterday's double points final race with a two-point lead over closest rival Nabila Natasha Mohamad Nazri of Malaysia, Jodie was clearly in the driver's seat.

With third-placed Klahan Kamonchanok of Thailand in the lead and Myanmar's Thae Yu Khaing too far to pose a threat, all Jodie had to do was to sail her own race and keep an eye on Nabila. In the end, she finished second, ahead of Nabila, with Klahan winning the race.

Jodie won the gold with 13 points, followed by Klahan (15) and Nabila (17).

"I wanted to finish ahead of Nabila just to be sure of my gold and, as we approached the finish line, I kept looking back to make sure she was not going to overtake me," said Jodie, a Secondary 2 student at Raffles Girls' School.

"That was when I was most nervous in the race."

Coming off the back of her Asian Games win in Incheon, South Korea, last year, Jodie described yesterday's victory on home waters as a "great honour".

It could have been double joy for Singapore, but Daniel Toh narrowly missed out on the male Optimist gold and had to settle for bronze.

Just two points separated him, Malaysia's Muhammad Fauzi Kaman Shah and Thailand's Suthon Yampinid before the final race.

Fauzi overtook Daniel on the down-wind straight to the finish and a penalty incurred for illegal kinetics demoted the Singaporean to third place, adding to his misery.

But Singapore coach Javier Figueroa Mantero backs the 13-year-old to bounce back at the Optimist World Championships in Poland in August.

"It was a very tough fight today, and Fauzi is one of the best sailors in the world in his age group. He deserved the win," said Mantero.

"It's important that Daniel learns how to deal with the pressure. He will face even stronger competitors in Poland, so today's race is good training for him."


This article was first published on June 14, 2015.
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