YOG: History making sailors

Majulah Singapura was heard at the Olympics for the first time yesterday.

At the Jinniu Lake in Nanjing, China, 15-year-old sailors Bernie Chin and Samantha Yom carved their names into Singapore's sporting history by becoming the nation's first to clinch gold at the Youth Olympic Games.

The pair came up tops in the boys' and girls' Byte CII (one person dinghy) events, respectively. Bernie's triumph, out of a field of 30 competitors, was especially sweet.

The Raffles Institution student had a disastrous start to the competition when he was placed 21st in his first race, and did not even finish his second race, adding a whopping 31 points to his tally to end up 27th overall after Day 1 of the competition.

The sailor with the fewest overall points after 11 races wins the event.

But he bounced back in style with some superb sailing in his remaining races, storming into the lead after the seventh race. DISBELIEF

Races 8 to 10 of the boys' and girls' sailing competitions were cancelled due to light winds and Bernie's fifth-placed finish in the final leg of the regatta was enough for him to edge out his rivals.

Speaking to The New Paper just hours after his win yesterday, Bernie was still pinching himself. "I'm still in disbelief," he said.

"My aim before the competition was to try my best and get any medal and, after doing really badly on my first day, I was demoralised and unhappy.

"But my coach (Fernando Alegre) and teammates gave me a lot of support, telling me to forget the performance and to move on, and eventually I did well enough to win gold.

"They played a huge part in helping me to this win."

Raffles Girls' School student Samantha also enjoyed a come-from-behind win.

Despite racing consistently throughout the regatta, she entered the final leg four points adrift of Holland's Odile van Aanholt. In a dramatic climax, the Singaporean finished second in the final race to clinch gold as Odile ended up seventh.

Said Samantha: "I just told myself to focus on myself and give my all, and the results will fall in place.

"It feels unreal (to win gold).

"I'm really proud and happy to be here and making full use of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do my country proud."

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, speaking on the sidelines of the launch the Para Canoeing development programme at MacRitchie Reservoir yesterday, said: "The sailors have been sailing very hard.

"It (the two gold medals) is a reflection of commitment and efforts by the Singapore Sailing Federation into youth development... You saw it at the Youth Olympics when we first hosted it and they have continued to expand their programme and now it is bearing fruit." Singapore Sailing chief executive Tan Wearn Haw said: "There is still lots of work ahead, but it is clear that we have a group of hardworking athletes with good foundation coming through the ranks.

"We hope that with each successive generation, they will build on that foundation to make further breakthroughs at the Olympic and senior levels."

This article was first published on August 25, 2014.
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