THE FIRST thing Singapore sailor Jodie Lai did after being informed that she had won an Asian Games gold medal in the women's Optimist was not to jump hysterically in glee or embark on a hug-marathon.
Instead, the 13-year-old, who was making her Asiad debut, went around her boat to comfort team-mate Raynn Kwok, who was quietly cleaning his boat alone after originally finishing fourth overall and narrowly missing out on a medal in the men's Optimist.
Such camaraderie and unity perfectly captured the spirit that Singapore's sailors displayed yesterday on a sunny afternoon at the Wangsan Sailing Marina.
There were hugs, yells and applause, but amid the celebrating, no one neglected their team-mates, hanging around by the bay and helping each other drag their heavy boats up a 50m ramp from the sea.
Said Jodie, who clinched Singapore's first-ever Optimist gold at the Asiad: "I was trying to encourage Raynn, but I think he tried his best and he won't feel that upset because at least he gave his best."
And while Raynn, 12, was visibly down after his race, he eventually joined Jodie as a medallist, after a successful protest against the race 11 results of Thailand's Suthon Yampinid and Malaysia's Dhiauddin Rozaini.
Both sailors had collided with him during the race when he had the right of way. They were disqualified from race 11, and Raynn finished second overall from 12 races, one point ahead of Yampinid. Said the St Hilda's Primary School pupil: "This is the happiest I've been in my life.
"I'm happy to have a medal to show for my efforts, and for missing school."
His late silver meant the sailors wrapped up the fleet racing component with two golds, two silvers, and two bronzes.
Joining Jodie as gold medallists are the 420 pair of Kimberly Lim and Savannah Siew.
The pair were inseparable after getting on shore, and understandably so. After all, yesterday was their last time racing together.
Each will move on to a different fleet - Lim to the 49er FX, and Siew to the 470 class.
Said Lim: "It's a really good feeling to end off on such a high. We just stuck to our routine, doing what we do best, and that really helped us in this event. This is our last event together... we can't really describe how we feel right now.
"This meant so much."
Added Siew: "We've worked for a really long time together. We just know how each other works. It's an amazing day, and we're very happy it ended well.
The women's 29er pair, sisters Priscilla and Cecilia Low, also clinched a silver, while Colin Cheng (men's Laser) and the men's 420 pair of Jonathan Yeo and Loh Jia Yi contributed two bronzes.
Singapore Sailing Federation president Ben Tan was elated by his sailors' showing in Incheon.
He said: "A lot of effort went into (developing the sailors), from the psychology of sailors, their mental toughness, to how they draw their training cycles and our selection processes. So of course I'm happy with (the result)."
There could yet be another gold medal for the 17-strong sailing team when the J80 match racing semi-finals take place today.
The J80 crew of Andrew Paul Chan, Russell Kan, Christopher Lim, Justin Wong, and Maximilian Soh are tipped for a gold, having won 15 of their 16 round-robin matches.
In all, Singapore have four gold, six silvers, and 11 bronzes at the end of yesterday, exceeding their medal count at the last Asiad (four golds, seven silvers, six bronzes).
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