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15 December 2006, 09:13 am
Singapore Blitz Medals
Team Singapore celebrate
Team Singapore celebrate

Asian Games 2006
Doha, Qatar

Singapore dominated the sailing on Doha Bay, winning five golds, three silver and two bronze medals from the 14-class regatta based at the Doha Sailing Club. This is Singapore's best performance at an Asian Games. The forecast light winds prevailed for the majority of the competition and Singapore delivered on their reputation as experienced light wind sailors.
They remained consistent and conservative, taking few risks, with the team medallists consistently placing in the top three places in their classes.

Singapore came into the Asian Games with confidence. But they exceeded even their own expectations winning gold in the men's and women's 420 classes, the men's Laser Standard, open Laser 4.7 and match racing.

Singapore have only won 16 medals in total since 1970, but with a super slick training model and international coaches (predominantly Australians) they have emerged as Asian leaders, ending China and Korea's dominance.

China were the next most successful after Singapore, winning four golds, one silver and one bronze medal, taking their medal tally to six behind Singapore with ten medals overall.

China and HKG shared the gold and silver medals in all three Mistral classes. The two NOCs have dominated these categories throughout Asian Games history with 50 percent of all gold and silver medals shared between them.

In the boy's Optimist class China's fourth gold medal came from 15-year old NI Wei who finished with a 19-point lead over Navee THAMSOONTORN of Thailand. Sean LEE's second place finish in race 12, along with his solid performance in the previous races, secured him and Singapore the bronze medal.

The Singapore team has now won the bronze medal in this under-16 class over three consecutive Asian Games, emphasising their focus on youth development.

In the women's Optimist class, 15 year-old Rufina TAN took gold, becoming Malaysia's first female Asian Games sailing gold medallist.

Haruka KOMIYA of Japan claimed the silver medal, pushing ahead of bronze medallist Benjamas POONPAT of Thailand by just one point. KOMIYA's silver is Japan's ninth Asian Games sailing medal in women's classes. .

Laser Radial World Champion Dominates

In the open Laser Radial, after a difficult and very competitive regatta, Laser world champion XU Lijia of China became the first female to win a medal in this class.

Seng Leong KOH of Singapore and India's Rajesh CHOUDHARY were on equal points at the conclusion of sailing after 12 races, but KOH won on count back. KOH won the final race, giving him more firsts overall than CHOUDHARY and allowing him to jump from fourth overall to second place, taking the silver. CHOUDHARY won his second consecutive bronze medal in this class, having won his first at the Asian Games Busan 2002.

In the men's Laser Standard class Singapore's Maximilian SOH stormed home with the gold medal. The battle for silver was very close between Yoichi IIJIMA and KIM Hokon of Korea who fought each other for the whole race.

IIJIMA placed third in the final race to win the silver medal. Defending Asian Games gold medallist KIM finished fifth to take the bronze and was visibly frustrated with his performance.

In the Laser 4.7 class, Colin CHENG took gold for Singapore with a 10-point lead after consistent sailing throughout the regatta, concluding with top three finishes in 10 out of 12 races. Waleed AL SHARSHANI took silver, the first Qatari to win a medal in sailing at the Asian Games.

Malaysia's Nurul Elia ANUAR, the only female in this class, took bronze, becoming the first female in Asian Games history to win a medal in this open class.

In the Hobie 16 class, debuting at the Asian Games this year, Thai brothers DAMRONGSAK and Sakda VONGTIM took the gold medal, emerging from a tightly packed fleet. The brothers won gold at the Asian Championships in Doha in March 2006 and the Southeast Asian games in December 2005, and their experience served them well.

PARK Kyutea and SUNG Changi or Korea had crossed over from the 470 class into the Hobie 16 as they thought their chance for gold was better, but their lack of experience cost them. Singapore's Melcolm HUANG and Pei Quan CHUNG came over from the 420 class and took the bronze just two points behind Korea.

In the men's 470, two-time defending gold medallists Kim DAEYOUNG and Jung SUNGAHN took Korea's only gold by a staggering 18 point margin, becoming the first and second sailors to achieve consecutive golds three years running at the Asian Games. Yuan Zhen XU and Terence KOH, two more Singaporeans, took the silver, Kan YAMADA and Kenichi NAKAMURA the bronze for Japan.

In the women's 470 class Japan duo Ai KONDO and Naoko KAMATA took gold and smashed the competition bagging wins in every race, except one. Japan's previous gold medal in this class was 16 years ago at Beijing 1990, making it the second gold for the star duo in Asian Games history.

Liying TOH and Elizabeth TAN, yet more medal winning Singaporeans, and Yu CHUNYAN amd Wen YIMEI took silver and bronze respectively, separated by just one point.

The men's 420 was close throughout the competition with the Singapore crew of Justin LIU and Shermon CHENG taking their first Asian Games gold medals. Shingen FURUYA and Shibuki IITSUKA took silver for Japan while Nay La KYAW and Min MIN of Malaysia cruised into the bronze position, eight points behind Japan.

Singapore duo Sarah TAN and Tze Ting LIM dominated the women's 420 bringing home 11 firsts out of 12 races. Their gold medal was certain after race 10 as they had established a significant lead.

Yumi TAKAHASHI and Kae TSUGAYA took Japan's second silver in the women's classes, finishing 12 points behind the Singaporeans. Wu Sander WAI and April AUNG Myanmar put up a good fight, but finished with a bronze medal by three points.

Match racing debuted at the Asian Games in 2006 with most sailors coming across from various double handed classes. Competition was close throughout, with boats consistently finishing within seconds of each other.

Team India, the Asian champions and experienced favourites looked strong in all the preliminary rounds. But Singapore's youthful and light five-man crew prevailed.

In a tense finale, Singapore beat India after India was penalised for infringing a right of way rule just before the finish line. Korea and Thailand battled it out for the bronze with Korea cruising to an easy victory.

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