By Lee Min Kok, Team Singapore Student Reporter, NUS
Wrestlers Melvynna Tumbunan, Mohamad Sulaiman, Gabriel Yang and Aloysius Chua are thinking only of their immediate task in Laos but the fact is they are making a bit of history as Singapore's first representatives ever in wrestling (pictured).
Under the tutelage of national coach and two-time Olympic champion Sergey Beloglazov, these four unfamiliar faces, who were originally in judo, have been training five times a week to prepare for the SEA Games. With only about ten months of serious wrestling training under their belt, the quartet is well aware of the difficult task ahead of them, especially since they will be competing against seasoned wrestlers.
Steep Learning Curve
They know only too well where they stand, having tasted first hand the standards at the Asia level. For example, Melvynna and Sulaiman took part in the Asian Wrestling Championships held in Pattaya, Thailand, in May, where they faced rivals from traditional powerhouses such as Japan, Iran and Kazakhstan. They were duly given a lesson in the sport by their more established opponents.
But far from letting setbacks deter them, the four wrestlers trained harder and are now ready for the challenge ahead in Vientiane. There have been encouraging signs that their hard work is paying off. For example, at the Philippines IFUGAO Wrestling Invitation held in June, Gabriel clinched the gold medal in the Male Senior Under-96kg Freestyle Category. Coming off a gruelling training camp in Osaka, Japan, morale is high among the foursome as they aim to clinch at least a medal in Laos. With an air of unpredictability surrounding this new sport, our wrestlers will certainly look to impress as they make their SEA Games debut.