BREAKTHROUGH : He moves out of the shadows to win gold in 20km walk
Lo Choon Sieng en route to winning gold in the 20km walk at the Jakabaring Sports Complex in Palembang yesterday. - Picture by HASAN ISMAIL
LO Choon Sieng has been living in the shadow of Teoh Boon Lim for too long and was intent on breaking free and establish himself as the best race walker in the country.
Choon Sieng, 26, on his arrival in Palembang, had announced that he wanted to take over from Boon Lim and emulate the feats of his mentor V. Subramaniam in the Sea Games. Subramaniam won six Sea Games gold medals in men's 20km and 10km walks and is known for his style of leading from the front to outwit his rivals.
Choon Sieng used the same tactic for the first time in a major event yesterday and led from the start to secure the gold medal in the men's 20km walk in one hour 32:34s to beat his Indonesian rival Hendro (1:33:23) by almost a minute. Vietnam's Nguyen Thanh Ngung (1:35:23) was third.
It was also sad to see Boon Lim, 35, struggle to finish fourth (1:37:05) but it was evident that Choon Sieng has managed to make the breakthrough he has been waiting for for six years under the guidance of Subramaniam.
"It is the competition with Boon Lim that drove me to do better but I also wanted to win the Sea Games gold badly after being disqualified in Laos. I had set my mind then that I had to pip Boon Lim for gold as he is the man to beat," said Choon Sieng yesterday.
"I have struggled for six years but I remained patient as I knew my time would come. Now I want to chase more Sea Games gold and emulate what my coach (Subramaniam) has done. He is a legend and there are so many of his feats that I want to achieve.
"This is the first time I led from the start and I was confident. My coach uses the tactic effectively but I will not able to do that all the time as there is risk.
"Now that I have managed my major breakthrough, I want to go all out and qualify for the Olympics. I have three months to achieve that in the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan in March.
"I need to improve my personal best by more than three minutes to achieve the feat but featuring in the Olympics in my next aim."
Choon Sieng's personal best is 1:27:36s and the Olympic qualifying time is 1:24:30s but he is confident of making the cut for the London Olympics and earn the chance to rub shoulders with the world's best and take his performance to another level.
Subramaniam also said that Choon Sieng's discipline and determination make him the walker who is set to continue Malaysia's domination in the Sea Games' walk events.