REPORTING FROM INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA
“I’m very happy.”
“I’m very, very happy.”
After her individual time trial at the Asian Games on Saturday afternoon, Dinah Chan was clearly overjoyed, to put it mildly.
While the Singaporean cyclist didn’t medal in the gruelling 28km race on the roads of Incheon, South Korea, she jokingly told reporters after that she’d met her “KPI of a top six finish”.
But Chan was being rather modest.
She placed fourth out of 10 competitors in a time of 39:54.17mins, nearly a minute behind bronze medalist Jamie Wong of Hong Kong and just seven seconds ahead of Thailand’s Chanpeng Nontasin, the only other Southeast Asian in the race. South Korea’s Na Ahreum won gold in 37:54.43mins.
“In the time trial, it’s you against yourself, you must give more than 100 per cent,” said Chan, 28. “The winds were very strong but I just kept smashing the gears.”
And it was a hugely commendable effort from the Singaporean, whose gold medal last year in the 30km individual time trial at the SEA Games was the country’s first cycling win in 16 years.
Here in her first race since the historic victory, she improved on her seventh-place finish at the last Asian Games in 2010, but noted that the difference was the switch to full-time training since June 2013.
“I had no idea if my training was on the right track,” Chan admitted. “But now I can see that over the past eight months I’ve improved. It’s still not good enough for top three, but I’m on the way there.”
If anything, her result proves that full-time training works, said the Physical Education teacher at Broadrick Secondary, who is on indefinite no-pay leave.
Chan has been able to clock over 30 hours of riding weekly, and receives financial support from Sport Singapore’s year-long ‘The Final Push’ programme, which pumps extra funds into carded athletes on top of their annual grants, in view of the 2015 SEA Games being held in Singapore itself.
“Next year’s SEA Games is the most important,” she asserted, before counting down the nine months to the start of the regional meet in June next year.
Chan still has one more road race on Monday. After that, it's time to prepare for the SEA Games as well as her big dream of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.
For now, she will revel in both the pain and joy of a race not soon forgotten.
“It hurts so badly after each time,” said a grimacing Chan before adding, seconds later, "But I’m happy – full-stop.”
SEE ALL OF SINGAPORE'S MEDALISTS AT THE 2014 ASIAN GAMES HERE: