For Yong Yi Xiang, wushu is about putting up a performance, with any trophy or medal being a bonus.
Nevertheless, he and his Singapore team-mates' accomplished performances saw them secure a huge and unexpected bonus at the Singapore Expo Hall 2 yesterday.
They achieved their target of three SEA Games gold medals, and also added a silver and a bronze for good measure - all on the first day of competition.
They swept three out of the four medal events - Vera Tan in the women's compulsory taijiquan, Yong in the men's changquan, and the men's duilian trio of Jesse Colin Adalia, Lee Zhe Xuan and Lim Si Wei in the weapons event.
And the women's weapons duilian duo of Zoe Mui and Emily Sin narrowly failed to complete a clean sweep, with their score of 9.68 edged out by the 9.69 gold-winning score by Myanmar's Myint Aye Thit Sar and Phyo Myat Thet Su Wai.
The results far outstripped those of the 2013 Myanmar Games, where the Republic's exponents garnered one gold, two silvers and two bronzes. Their haul also meant that they finished the day as Singapore's top performing sport, ahead of swimming's two golds.
No doubt, the loud home support spurred these wushu exponents to sterling performances in their various routines.
Yong improved on his 11th place in the 2013 Games to edge out Indonesia's Aldy Lukman (9.69) and Vietnam's Tran Xuan Hiep (9.68) with a score of 9.70.
The 21-year-old said: "The atmosphere was very uplifting and encouraging and it gave me the mental support to do my best on the carpet.
"Also, I felt a sense of clarity that I never felt before during training, and I was in control of myself.
"My opponents are my strongest rivals in South-east Asia and I have always been behind them, so I feel like I am in a dream."
Earlier, Vera and Ho Lin Ying started the ball rolling in the women's compulsory taijiquan event, scoring 9.69 and 9.64 respectively to win gold and bronze respectively. Malaysia's Chan Lu Yi (9.65) took the silver.
Said 17-year-old Vera: "I was hoping for gold... and I performed up to expectations today. I will continue to focus and prepare well for my remaining events."
In the evening, the men's weapons duilian trio continued where the individual events left off in the evening, scoring 9.72 to beat the Philippine (9.70) and Bruneian (9.68) teams.
Said Jesse: "We missed out on bronze by just 0.01 at the last SEA Games so we were more motivated to do better this time round.
"We wanted to use this opportunity to prove ourselves."
The wushu team are now unexpectedly in the running to emulate the achievements of the Class of 1993, which garnered seven SEA Games golds on home ground.
Witnessing yesterday's performances was Vincent Ng, one of those champions.
He said: "The athletes in this batch are maturing in terms of their technique, and they still have a lot of competitions to prepare for after this, so I hope they will continue improving."
For team manager Eng Ngiuk Lian, yesterday's achievement represented a breakthrough for the sport. But while the medal target has been reached, she refused to set a new one.
She said: "I am sure they can compete in the remaining events with less pressure, and yet at the same time be inspired by the results on the first day."
This article was first published on June 7, 2015.
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