SEA games 2015: Winner makes his Mark

SEA games 2015: Winner makes his Mark

They returned with one gold, three silvers and two bronzes from the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia but Singapore's wakeboarders and waterskiers could not show their flair in 2013 when the sport was not offered in Myanmar.

Given the opportunity to shine again this year, and in front of the home crowd, the wakeboard and waterski team did not disappoint, and by the third day of competition yesterday had bagged three golds and two bronzes - with Sasha Christian and Mark Leong standing out.

"The team is generally performing to the standard they expected themselves to," said Geoffrey Kee, team manager of the Singapore waterskiing team.

"It's difficult to build a strong team when the discipline is featured irregularly.

"It's been challenging for us due to the start-stop opportunities but we have a group of very dedicated riders."

Yesterday, Mark made waves when he clinched the men's slalom gold with three buoys on the 12m rope - a new national and Games record that stood for only one morning before he rewrote it in the afternoon when he rounded four buoys in the men's slalom overall preliminaries.

"I had my eyes on the record last night but my coach told me that records mean nothing in comparison to the competition position," said the delighted 17-year-old.

He had put his studies on hold for a year to train for the Games before enrolling in Catholic Junior College next year.

"Still, I was happy with the record, I hope it will stay for a long time and I will aim to improve on it."

While Mark had an easy run in the preliminaries, the slalom final was much more tense as Indonesian Hardinata Indra, the 2011 bronze medallist, cleared two buoys on the 13m rope.

However, the Singaporean replied by starting with simple warm-up passes with an 18m rope, before slowly decreasing the rope length and executing his record-breaking effort.

In the women's slalom, Christian, 22, easily rounded three buoys to clinch gold to make up for her disappointment in 2011 when she was second.

She said: "I really wanted it this morning. I was nervous - I don't think I've ever wanted it so badly in my life before."

On Friday, she had got off to a good start by winning gold in the women's wakeboard.

Kalya Kee also chipped in with a bronze yesterday after finishing third in the women's slalom with five buoys on the 14.25m rope, a huge improvement from her preliminary score of 4.5 buoys on the 18.25m rope.

Kalya, 19, had suffered a severe cut to her face after a crash during training just before the Games. That had left her with 13 stitches and the doctor advising her not to compete.

"Considering her injury and the amount of time she got to spend on training due to school commitments, she has performed very well. She's a fighter," said Geoffrey, who is also Kalya's father.

Her bronze is also an improvement on her fourth-place finish at the 2011 Games.

The team will be gunning for more medals today in the team wakeboard and overall events in the last day of the discipline at the 28th SEA Games.

This article was first published on June 14, 2015.
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