Training abroad to get a firmer grip on rivals

SINGAPORE- With its biggest-ever contingent of 10 judokas heading to Naypyidaw, judo will be hoping to at least improve on its lone bronze-medal showing at the last SEA Games.

While the Singaporeans will face tough competition from Vietnam, Indonesia and hosts Myanmar, they are optimistic of putting up a good account of themselves when the judo competition begins on Dec 18.

They still have the lone medallist from the last Games - Ang Xuan Yi - in their line-up. She is competing in her fourth edition of the event.

This year, the SIM undergraduate was sent to South Korea's Yong In University for two training stints lasting three and 21/2 months respectively.

"Technique-wise, the Koreans are know for their explosiveness," said Ang, 24, who will be taking part in the Under-57kg category.

"So what I learnt in Korea was how they managed to do it. I did a lot of speed training and sprints just to build up the explosiveness."

With such ample preparation, it is no wonder she is heading for the Games calm and confident.

"In the past, I put too much pressure and stress on myself," she said.

"This time round, I'm taking a different approach - I want to go into the Games with a calmer mindset."

While Ang headed to South Korea together with men's team-mate Joel Tseng, four others went to Mongolia's national judo training centre to learn new tactics.

Said Gabriel Yang, one of the quartet: "The traditional style is to grip your opponent with both hands but stay away from him.

"In Mongolia, we were learning how to bring our opponents closer and finish them off faster."

Two Mongolian judokas also came to Singapore last month to continue to act as sparring partners for the Games-bound athletes.

Singapore will also be participating in the Nage-No-Kata and Ju-No-Kata competitions.

These require judokas to perform various techniques and be judged on how well they execute them.

It will be the first time the Republic will take part in the Nage-No-Kata event, and the two judokas - Soh Keng Chuan and Benny Tan - spent two weeks in the Kodokan, judo's headquarters in Tokyo.

"That's where the textbook of judo was written," said Tan.

"We found out a lot of intricacies which we couldn't spot even with video feedback.

"It was a humbling experience for us but, crucially, it also gave us a lot of good pointers on how to do well in competition."

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