By Jeannette Xavier
Picture By Peh Siong San
The target set was five medals, including one gold. But Team Singapore's athletes, led by swimmer Quah Ting Wen and bowler New Hui Fen, went many times better, winning nine golds, six silvers and 15 bronzes to finish third overall in the Asian Youth Games in terms of total medals won, just behind China and South Korea.
To chef de mission and national shooter Lee Wung Yew, the performances of our young athletes aged between 14 and 17 was "most heartening". Many, he said, displayed a level of maturity beyond their years.
Fighters All The Way
And they were fighters all the way. Like how Ting Wen came from behind to clinch the girls' 200m free title. Like how Hui Fen, overcoming a slow start, kept her cool to deliver under pressure in the girls' singles event. Like how shooter Abel Lim showed great focus to overtake a South Korean opponent at the very last minute to clinch bronze.
Others displayed the kind of will power we celebrate. The male bowlers (pic), full of promise but without a gold as the bowling competition came to a close, ended with a bang when Basil Low took the boys' masters title with a comprehensive win over South Korea's Choi Kyung-Hwan. Sailor Darren Choy, following a dream start in the Byte CII event for boys with three wins in three races after Day 1, maintained his form all the way to win the gold with ease.
Even some losses yielded inspiring moments. Chief among them was when paddler Isabelle Li gave everything she had in a seven-game thriller in the girls' singles quarter-finals - only to lose to North Korea's Kim Song I. Swimmer Amanda Lim had to play second fiddle to team mate Ting Wen twice - in the 50m free and 100m free. Yet this fast-improving youngster, whose times are respectable even on a world stage, showed much poise and grace.