From left: Chan Lu Yi, Aggie Cheah and Audrey Chan delivered a surprise gold medal in the duilian barehands event. - S. S KANESAN / The Star
SINGAPORE: Loh Jack Chang (pic, below) was close to quitting wushu after last year’s Incheon Asian Games.
Luckily, he didn’t.
The 28-year-old Sarawakian hit the jackpot as he got back on the podium after a lapse of almost two years – since winning bronze at the 2013 World Championships in Kuala Lumpur.
Jack Chang, who clinched silver in the men’s taijijian on Sunday, delivered the first of Malaysia’s two wushu gold medals at the SEA Games in the taijiquan compulsory.
His triumph – and that of Aggie Cheah, Chan Lu Yi and Audrey Chan in the women’s duilian barehands – came on the very last day of the three-day competition.
Despite having to perform under pressure, Jack Chang emerged triumphant with a classy display, chalking up 9.71 points to top the nine-man contest ahead of Singapore’s Samuel Tan (9.69) and Julius Yoga Kurniawan (9.67) of Indonesia.
The smile he flashed to the camera right after he was done with his routine said it all.
Barely an hour before that, he had competed in the taijiquan – but he could only finish sixth.
“The pressure is certainly there, the whole team was counting on me and I didn’t want to let myself down too. I just stayed calm and did what I had to do,” said Jack Chang, who won his first SEA Games gold in the 2009 Laos Games.
“This victory means a lot to me as I actually thought of quitting after last year’s Asian Games.
“I’ve not been able to get back to my very best due to a nagging right knee injury. I’ve had the problem since 2010.
“I’m in my late 20s, and taiji is the most demanding of all the wushu disciplines despite being known for its graceful moves.
“I only stayed on because there’s still no one ready to take over. The win today proves I did the right thing,” added the two-time world meet runner-up.
His win certainly inspired Aggie, Lu Yi and Audrey to an unexpected gold in the women’s duilian barehands contest – a duel demonstration that Malaysia’s not traditionally strong in.
The trio entertained the crowd at the Expo Hall 2 with an action-packed duel to amass the highest score of 9.65 points, defeating Myanmar (9.58) and Laos (9.57).
Malaysia also had two two bronzes, through Ng Shin Yii (women’s taijijian) and Phoon Eyin (women’s qiangshu).
Malaysia have not failed to return with at least two gold medals since the 2007 Korat Games.
The Star Online