THE STRAITS TIMES | B16 SPORT THURSDAY | OCTOBER 23 2014 | By CHUA SlANG YEE
Year-old pairing of Tan and Yap win keelboat event for S’pore’s first gold
On a chilly and windy afternoon, out on the Yellow Sea at the Wangsan Sailing Marina in Incheon, South Korea, a slice of Singapore sporting history was created.
Sailors Jovin Tan and Yap Qian Yin may have teamed up less than a year ago, but that did not stop them from delivering Singapore’s first gold medal at the ongoing Asian Para Games yesterday.
It is Singapore’s first gold at the quadrennial meet since its inception in 2010. Said Tan, 28: “We’re happy because our hard work has paid off. “The medal should also go to the coaches, volunteers, our employers, and Changi Sailing Club, which has been very supportive of us using the venue as our training ground.”
Said Yap, 24: “I’d also like to thank the people who were here to watch us. It’s a very special thing for us.”
The sailors’ triumph meant Singapore ended the day with one gold and one silver, after swimmer Theresa Goh finished second in the 50m freestyle SS. Tan and Yap were unstoppable in the two-person keelboat event (dinghy 303), winning seven of nine races to finish top of the eight-team event with nine points.
Japan’s Shinya Yamamoto and Mari Kitagawa were a distant second with 23 points, while Malaysia’s Nurul Amilin Balawi and Mustafah Junell were third with 26 points.
Another Singapore pair, Aaron Per and Ng Xiu Zhen, were fourth with 29 points.
Tan, a three-time Paralympian, first teamed up with Yap last November.
Their partnership bore fruit in February, when they won in the Oceanbridge Sail Auckland event in the 303 double-handed category.
They also won August’s Royal Yachting Association Multiclass Regatta in Britain before heeding for Incheon.
On their partnership, Tan said: “She really worked very hard throughout this four days of racing. The wind can be gusty as times, the weather was cold, and I’m sure she has a lot of things running in her mind.
“Being a sailor who has been competing for quite a number of years, it’s good in a way that I can calm her down, take things slowly.”
Singapore has one gold, one silver and four bronzes at the Games, which is an improvement on their haul of four bronzes in the inaugural Guangzhou edition in 2010.
Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sam Tan, who is in lncheon, said: “This is really a glorious day for Singapore.Our sailing team has done Singapore proud. They won seven out of nine races, and are undisputed champions.
“This is by far the best performance (from Singapore’s para-athletes). I would like to thank our athletes for going and putting on a gutsy performance, and do Singapore proud.”