YOG champs crowned joint ST Star of the Month winners

YOG champs crowned joint ST Star of the Month winners

They had already created history by becoming the first Singaporeans to win Youth Olympic golds.

Yesterday, sailors Bernie Chin and Samantha Yom scored another unprecedented feat - as the first joint winners of The Straits Times Star of the Month award.

The award had previously been given out to honour the most outstanding sporting achievement of the month.

But after the 15-year-olds struck gold in their respective Byte CII events at the Nanjing Games last month, even rules needed to be bent a little.

Said ST sports editor Marc Lim, who heads a committee which picked the winners: "It was impossible to choose between two outstanding sailors who both delivered at the highest level.

"So we decided that it was only right that both Bernie and Samantha should be rewarded. We felt that in writing history, we too would do the same, and crown joint champions for the first time."

The duo were lauded for the Nanjing feats at a lunch reception yesterday, which was hosted by the award's sponsors 100Plus.

The F&N isotonic drink has been backing both the ST Star of the Month and the ST Athlete of the Year since 2008.

Said Raffles Institution student Bernie of his win: "It was always a dream to win a medal for Singapore, let alone gold, so it felt really great. I couldn't have done it without the support of my parents, school teachers, coaches and the Singapore Sailing Federation.

Added Samantha, a Secondary Three student at Raffles Girls' School: "It feels really great to have won something so meaningful at the YOG but this award should go to the people around Bernie and I who helped make our success a reality over the years.

"Bernie and I may be the ones with the medals around our necks but it's people like our parents, for their support and dedication, coaches and the Singapore Sailing Federation who should get an award like this."

While the duo were keen to downplay their historic achievements, there is no denying that the teens deserve their newfound star status.

Both had to overcome daunting obstacles en route to gold. Bernie was reduced to tears after a disastrous start placed him bottom of the 30-strong fleet after the opening two races of the individual men's competition.

But he recovered well to score 38 points in the seven-race regatta - enough to see off Portuguese silver medallist Rodolfo Pires (47 points) and Hungary's Jonatan Vadnai (50), who took bronze.

Meanwhile, Samantha kept her competitive focus to outsail her opponents even after her competition was delayed for three straight days owing to a lack of wind at the venue.

SingaporeSailing president Dr Benedict Tan called the duo "an inspiration to the national squad".

"The two won not only the race, but also the respect of their opponents, which is something we're delighted to see," he said.

"They put in a lot of hard work in training - which also helped mould their personalities - and are rightful role models for the sailing community."


This article was first published on Sept 13, 2014.
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