SINGAPORE — Whether it is winning the first gold, or winning multiple golds over multiple editions, the elation of coming out tops in their chosen sports is the same for all victorious athletes.
Jiu-jitsu athlete Noah Lim, 17, created history on Monday (9 December) when he clinched Singapore’s first-ever SEA Games gold medal in the sport, which is making its debut in Philippines.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s reigning world billiards champion Peter Gilchrist, 34 years Noah’s senior, stamped his dominance in the region by clinching his sixth straight English billiards gold at the Games.
Together with the Republic’s swimmers sweeping five golds in the final day of the swimming competition, they have pushed Singapore to their second-best away showing with 50 golds so far. The best-ever away record was 57 golds in 2017.
Winning via submission
At the LausGroup Event Center in New Clark City, Noah defeated Thailand’s Kuntong Suwijak via submission in the men’s 62kg final to clinch gold in jiu-jitsu, a Japanese martial art which is frequently used in mixed martial arts competitions.
Earlier in the afternoon, the Singaporean had beaten Malaysia’s Soo Yan Wei in the elimination round, then the Philippines’ Dee Gian Taylor in the semi-finals – both by submissions – to earn his spot in the final.
His elder brother, Paul, clinched a bronze medal in the men’s 69kg division, beating Indonesia’s Mastur Imam 6-0 in the bronze-medal match. Both Noah and Paul train with Evolve Mixed Martial Arts Academy.
“My brother and I have been training really hard for this competition, constantly drilling and studying techniques with our training partners at Evolve MMA under (coach) Teco Shinzato,” Noah told Yahoo News Singapore.
“I’m so grateful for this opportunity and even though I submitted all my opponents, I feel like I could have secured tighter positions and will strive to improve towards the next challenge.
I would also like to thank my brother Paul. He is the one who inspired me to start training in the first place and he's my best training partner. He's super talented and lost a very close match but I know he will win in future. He's one of the best athletes I know and I'm excited for his future.”
Meanwhile, Benjamin Chia lost to the Philippines' Dean Michael Roxas and had to settle for the silver medal in the men’s 85kg category, while Teh May Yong clinched a bronze in the women's 49kg category against Indonesia's Nura Amalia.
Not stopping 51-year-old Gilchrist
At the Manila Hotel, 51-year-old Gilchrist lived up to his current world No. 1 ranking with a 3-0 win in the best-of-five, 100-up final against Myanmar’s Nay Thway for his sixth consecutive gold in English billiards.
Since his first gold in 2009, he has faced Nay in the 2013 final and the 2017 semi-final, and won in both previous occasions.
The SEA Games gold caps a terrific year for the Middlesbrough-born Gilchrist, who received his Singapore citizenship in 2006 under the Foreign Talent Scheme. He had also won the World Billiards Championship in October for his sixth world title, adding to previous triumphs in 1994, 2001, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Swimmers match best-ever gold-medal haul
In the evening, the Singapore swimmers finished their SEA Games campaign with a total of 23 golds, matching their best-ever showing in the 2015 Games on home soil.
And they continue to unearth first-time winners, with Gan Ching Wee and Jonathan Tan celebrating their first individual gold medals with superb performances.
Gan, just 16 years old, raced in the gruelling women’s 800m freestyle and faced Vietnam’s swim star Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, who had already won five golds at the Games.
Yet, the Singaporean swimmer stormed to a convincing win, clocking 8min 41.48sec to clinch gold over Nguyen (8:47.65) and Thailand’s Kamonchanok Kwanmuang (8:50.23).
In the next final, it was Quah Zheng Wen’s turn to shine, as he easily clinched the men’s 200m butterfly gold – his fifth gold at the Games – in 1:56.61. Thailand’s Navaphat Wongcharoen was second on 2:00.31, while the bronze went to another Singaporean, Ong Jun Yi (2:00.53).
There was a Singapore one-two finish in the men’s 50m freestyle, as 17-year-old Jonathan Tan just managed to edged out Teong Tzen Wei for the first individual SEA Games gold in his career. He clocked a Games record 22.25sec to edge out Teong (22.40) and Philippines’ Luke Michael Gebbie (22.62).
Next, it was the Quah sisters’ turn to shine in the women’s 100m butterfly race. Elder sister Ting Wen eventually emerged winner, just managing to pip Jing Wen with a time of 59.62sec over her younger sister’s 59.73. Jasmine Alkhaldi of the Philppines was third (1:00.39).
The final race of the swimming competition was the men’s 4x100m medley relay, and Singapore comfortably retained the gold medal. The team of Quah Zheng Wen, Joseph Schooling, Lionel Khoo and Darren Chua clocked 3:38.63 to beat Indonesia (3:43.27) and Vietnam (3:44.36).
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