She has had a right toe injury for three months now, which worsened to the point that it is developing into a bone spur.
After completing her changquan routine yesterday at the Ganghwa Dolmens Gymnasium, Singapore wushu exponent Tan Yan Ni even had to limp off the mat and ice her foot for five minutes to reduce the pain.
But it was worth it - the 17-year-old scored an unexpected Asian Games bronze in the event, the sport's first since Goh Qiu Bin claimed third place in the men's taijiquan in Doha in 2006.
"I really didn't know how to react when I heard the news, I wasn't really confident when I finished my routine - I was aiming for a top-eight finish," Yan Ni told The New Paper over the phone yesterday.
"But I thought I could finish fourth after looking at the amount of mistakes some of the rest of the people were making, and that the Vietnamese girl (Hoang Thi Phuong Giang) would take the bronze; she's the SEA (South-east Asia) Games champion after all."
Before Yan Ni, Liew Yin Yin was the last woman to win a medal at the Asiad - she clinched a taijiquan bronze in Busan in 2002.
SEA Games silver-medallist Yan Ni, who turns 18 next month, scored 9.63 points yesterday, including a perfect 2.0 score in her jumps, just 0.01 point ahead of the Vietnamese.
China's Kan Wencong took gold with 9.75 points in South Korea, while Hong Kong's Geng Xiaoling clinched the silver with 9.66.
The Republic Polytechnic student added: "I was particularly pleased with my jump because I had to land on my toes. I hurt my toe again when I practised my moves about an hour before the competition and couldn't move at all for five minutes."
"Furthermore, a lot of little things will cost point deductions - like if your legs are not straightened - so I was very conscious about all these things as I did my routine."
A good night's rest also helped a lot - while Yan Ni suffered a sleepless night before claiming her SEA Games silver in Myanmar last year, she was better-rested and calmer before yesterday's competition.
She said: "I share a room with Valerie (Wee) and I am the type who cannot sleep without music and lights; she's the complete opposite of me though.
"So last night she let me have the room to myself while she slept somewhere else; I am not sure where she slept, I think perhaps the nurse's room?" added the 1.58m-tall athlete, who falls asleep to dance tunes by Calvin Harris and Avicii.
"I was super nervous - to the point that I would just tremble - just two or three days ago, but I completed the routine in my head about 10 times last night before I went to bed.
"So I was much calmer before my competition today; I didn't tremble at all. And now that we're done with the Asian Games, I can finally rest my toe and let it recover."
This article was first published on Sept 24, 2014.
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