NANJING - Gymnastics team officials spent last night on the edge of their seats, following the fortunes of the third and last group of gymnasts to complete their routines in the women's artistic gymnastics qualification rounds.
But Singapore's Nadine Joy Nathan, instead of having her eyes glued to the television screen, was simply having her dinner.
The 15-year-old posted a total score of 49.325 across four apparatus, a result which put her 14th overall in a field of 42 gymnasts and enabled her to qualify for the prestigious women's all-around final. Only the top 18 progress past the qualifiers.
"In terms of score, this was the best I've achieved in competition so far," she told The Straits Times, adding that her previous best was around 47. "I just did what my coaches said to do - to give my all and don't hold back. Even if I fall while doing so, it wouldn't matter."
Her attitude was in stark contrast to the intimidation the Raffles Girls' School student felt while watching her fellow competitors train. She said: "I wasn't expecting to make the final. At the training ground, I saw the others could do a lot of things that I couldn't, so I told myself to just take this as a learning experience for future competitions."
Regardless of the result of tomorrow's final, Singapore Gymnastics vice-president Lee Hong Chuang is looking to Nadine - she is due to turn senior next year - as the pillar of the national women's team in the near future.
He said: "To be able to get into the top 18 at a competition like this speaks volumes of her potential. She's definitely ready for the senior stage."
Nadine's score of 12.375 in the floor exercise also placed her 11th, just three spots away from making the apparatus final. Her exploits came in front of Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
Apart from the United States, gymnastics powerhouses such as Romania, China and Russia have all sent athletes to the Games.
In badminton, Singapore's Liang Xiaoyu was left to rue a loss that could haunt her bid to reach the group stages.
The 17-year-old, a seeded player, was beaten 15-21, 16-21 by South Korean Kim Ga Eun. Each group has four players, with only the top player progressing.
Clearly disappointed, she later said: "The problem wasn't technical. It was mental. I wanted the win too badly, and that got in the way of me doing what I'm usually capable of. I made too many mistakes and I didn't defend well enough against an opponent who came out very aggressive."
Xiaoyu had played the same opponent twice before, beating her once and losing once. Added the Singaporean, who plays Turkey's Aliye Demirbag today in a must-win encounter: "This loss has no doubt affected me, but there's nothing I can do besides moving on to the next match and go out to win it."
This article was published on Aug 19 in The Straits Times.
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