By Jeannette Xavier
It’s one of those triumphs that deserves to be savoured again and again. Yes, shuttler Fu Mingtian’s SEA Games gold in the women’s singles here in Jakarta is worthy of yet another look. We offer 10 reasons why.
One, the youngster made history. She became the first Singaporean to win gold in the women’s singles. Two, she ended our long wait for an individual moment of glory at this biennial competition. The last time we had a singles champion was way back in 1983 when Wong Shoon Keat won gold in the men’s event.
Like A Champion
Three, Mingtian fought like a champion – which she eventually became. Down 19-20 in the deciding third set, she refused to give up. Keeping her focus and staying calm, she stayed in the moment and eventually won 14-21, 21-12, 22-20. Four, with her fighting spirit, she beat not only her opponent, Indonesia's Firdasari Adryanti. She also triumphed over the 10,000 screaming home fans at the Istora Senayan Stadium.
Five, she showed she could stay the course throughout the whole tournament. For instance, it wasn’t just the final that was a thriller. She also had to fight for every point in the semi finals where she overcame Thailand’s Intanon Ratchanok 21-17, 19-21, 22-20. Six, the petite Singaporean proved she could bounce back in style. Earlier, in the team event where Singapore lost 0-3 to Thailand, she had in fact played against Intanon and lost narrowly (19-21, 21-9, 16-21). Coming back so soon to beat the very player that just defeated her days earlier was impressive.
Seven, Mingtian’s victory was rich consolation, given the exit of our gold medal hope in the women’s doubles. Yao Lei and Shinta Mulia Sari did make it to the semi finals but went down 18-21, 17-21 against Indonesia’s Melati Nadya and Marissa Vita. Eight, at only 21, the latest SEA Games women’s singles champion has a great future ahead if she can be properly groomed – alongside our many young players, including Derek Wong, who clinched bronze in the men’s singles.
Post-SEA Games 2011
Nine, Mingtian’s win could well break a myth about Singapore’s shuttlers. Over the years, they have had their fair share of big moments but they have also been labelled “chokers” who fail to soar when the chips are down. Post-SEA Games 2011, the psychological battle might well go our way. Ten, Mingtian’s win should be celebrated for what it ultimately is – a fantastic sports story about winning against all odds.