HANOI – Before Contessa Loh pulled out for Thursday’s (May 19) women’s compound archery individual final, she knew she had two opponents to beat, home favorite Le Phuong Thao and partisan support .
As the crowd of 200 chanted “Vietnam, Co Len!” (Go Vietnam),” the only thing ringing in Loh’s head was the advice – “It’s not the noise that bothers you, you will bother the noise” – from Sport Singapore physiotherapist Lynn Bong.
Loh did just that, nearly silencing the National Sports Training Center in Hanoi as she beat Thao 144-140 while ending Singapore’s nine-year wait for a gold medal. at the SEA Games in this sport.
Her teammate Madeleine Ong joined Loh on the podium after beating another Vietnamese, Nguyen Thi Hai Chau, 146-140 in the bronze medal play-off.
Loh, 27, had come away empty-handed in her previous three Games – she had completed a heartbreaking fourth three years ago – and was determined to end that run.
She said: “I always had problems in the final arena where I let all the noise distract me.
“It (Bong’s advice) put me in perspective that I’m the one in control and it helped me get the noise out.”
The last national archer to triumph at the biennial Games was Chan Jing Ru in the recurve women’s individual event at the 2013 edition in Myanmar.
The Republic went blank at the 2019 Games in the Philippines and clinched a silver medal in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.
Prior to Chan, Sam Tan was the country’s only other champion in archery at the SEA Games. She won the women’s 70m individual and the overall women’s title in 1983 on home soil.
One factor in his success, Loh said, was access to better training facilities.
Before the Archery Association of Singapore moved to a dedicated location in February last year, Loh and her teammates spent more than a year training on clay surfaces on tennis courts in Bedok.
The new premises are located in the former secondary school in the town of Bedok and are twice as large as the previous site and can accommodate 16 target boards instead of 12.
Loh said: “It helped give some stability to my training schedule. It also gave us plenty of time to practice and helped us simulate the competition environment.
She hopes her breakthrough will raise the profile of the sport and encourage the next generation.
Loh, who is also an archery coach, said: “One of the main problems I see when I go to primary schools to coach is that a lot of them don’t believe that they can actually compete.
“They feel inferior to other countries or only see it as a hobby (activity).
“If this (win) inspires at least one kid to think they can do it, then for me it’s a job well done.”
Her bow and arrow may have calmed a crowded field on Thursday, but she hopes her gold medal will cause more noise at home.