Brunei's golden girls, Lee Ying Shi (L) and Faustina Woo Wai Sii (R) with national coach Li Hui after winning their gold medals in the women's duilian event yesterday. BT/Jason Thomas
Wushu gold medal winners Faustina Woo Wai Sii (L) and Lee Ying Shi in action yesterday. BT/Jason Thomas
Brunei ended four years of heartbreak in the SEA Games women's duilian (duo sparring with broadsword and spear) event after finally winning gold yesterday.
Two-time runners-up to Singapore at the 2009 Laos SEA Games and 2011 Indonesia SEA Games - both by 0.01 point - the roles are now interestingly reversed at the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games, where Faustina Woo Wai Sii and Lee Ying Shi carded 9.67 to triumph over Singapore by, naturally, 0.01 points.
Singapore's Emily Sin, Zoe Mui and Fung Hui Xin won silver on 9.66 as the Philippines' Kariza Kris Chan and Natasha Enriquez took bronze on 9.65. Sin was the only remaining member of the 2011 three-member team while Chan and Enriquez both took part in 2011, and also won bronze.
Lee and Woo were heartily congratulated by His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council, who visited Team Brunei at the Athletes Village.
After talking to the contingent, touring their quarters and having lunch with them at the dining hall, HRH Prince Hj Sufri also represented Brunei at the flag-raising ceremony for all 11 participating countries.
Though it was just one gold medal, yesterday's achievement means Brunei have already bettered their haul at the 2011 SEA Games - where the national contingent returned with four silver and seven bronze medals and were the only team not to hear their national anthem, which delivered a welcome relief when it was finally played yesterday.
Despite losing by the most slimmest of margins the past two editions, thoughts of those silver medals were the last thing on Lee and Woo's minds at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium.
"We never thought about that. We were only thinking about gold. We had to win it," they gushed after receiving their medals.
"I was too excited - I couldn't control myself," said Woo, who shed a few tears after the last pair to compete, Myanmar's Aye Thit Sar Myint and Myat Thet Hsu Wei, finished with 9.55.
Admitting that the gold medal had been a long time coming, national coach Li Hui looked rightly justified for all the sweat, tears and blood he has asked - and received - from his star pupils.
"Winning this medal makes us all very happy and proud since we've prepared six years for this and won silver twice," said a beaming national coach Li Hui.
"But we never gave up and worked even harder in training.
"They performed very good and their speed, movement and jumps... I can say they were almost perfect," he noted.
Pride was also a theme Lee touched on when asked how she felt about winning Brunei's first medal at this year's Games.
"I'm proud we made the country proud and secondly ourselves," grinned the 19-year-old.
It hadn't been smooth sailing leading up to the Games for the duo though, with injury worries curtaining Woo's training progamme amidst questions about whether she would even travel to Myanmar or not.
She hadn't competed with Lee in their pet event - they won gold in the same discipline at the 8th Asian Wushu Championships last year - since injuring her knee in April. And though she said it still hurt, it was worth the pain.
"I didn't think about the injury - I just thought about gold," said the 21-year-old Woo.
"It did hurt but I was...," she paused, before turning to her partner to ask her to translate a word in Mandarin.