SEA Games: 30-year wait for archery gold ends

Chan Jing Ru laughed when she recalled the reason she joined the archery club in Temasek Polytechnic six years ago.

"I didn't want to run," she said. "I wanted a sport where I could just stand there and play. I was so wrong. They made me run and run."

Running built the endurance required for her to shoot as many arrows as required during competition.

And the 23-year-old needed every bit of her stamina as she clinched a rare archery gold for Singapore in the women's recurve individual competition on Monday.

It was the first time since Tan Pek Hoon won two golds in 1983 - when Singapore hosted the event - that archery has landed a gold in the biennial Games.

And it all boiled down to the final batch of three arrows in Chan's 15-shot final against Indonesia's Titik Kusumawardarni at the Wunna Theikdi Archery Field.

Whoever scored the highest would win the gold.

Shooting first, Chan was near perfect, hitting 10, nine and 10.

Titik was perfect in her first two shots but could hit only seven in her final shot.

Almost instantly, Chan turned around and hugged her coach, overcome with joy.

"I was just so, so happy," she said. "I didn't even dare to think about gold after I qualified for the final on Monday. I was just focused on taking the next shot all the time."

That quality served her well during the initial stages of her final, as her third shot went awry, giving her only four points.

"I brushed it off pretty quickly," the NUS life sciences undergraduate said.

"In this type of high-pressure situations, I've learnt to push myself to not think about bad shots, move on and focus on the next shot." That mental trait did not come to her automatically.

Lim Chee Wee, honorary secretary of the Archery Association of Singapore, said that her national-team training was tailored to build her mental strength as she already was fit from her initial training at Temasek Polytechnic.

"We are a small association so we've learnt to be efficient during training," the 41-year-old said.

"Every archer's training is customised. So while Jing Ru trains more on her mental and tactical aspects, others may have more strength training to build up fitness.

"It's great that our efficiency has paid off."

That mental trait of being able to move on to the next objective is now ingrained in Chan, so much so that she ended the interview quickly.

"Training for team event," she said, before abruptly hanging up.

Again, that move paid off.

Teaming up with Tan Si Lie in the mixed team recurve competition, they collected a silver medal Monday afternoon, scraping past Indonesia 133-132 in the semi-final but losing 136-142 to Vietnam in the final.

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