There is a lot to be learned about a person through the way he plays his sports. This is especially true in any form of martial arts that demands a great deal of focus and discipline. On Friday, I travelled all the way to Singapore EXPO Hall 2 to watch the segment of SEA Games I am most excited about: Taekwondo.
The morning started out with the poomsae competitions. For those of you who are not familiar with taekwondo, poomsae refers to a prearranged sequence of non-combative techniques often taught in training for conditioning purposes. The competitive form requires the athletes to perform the set of moves with points awarded for accuracy and power of the form, down to its smallest detail. Even without knowledge of taekwondo, one can sigh at the sheer beauty of every move, perfectly executed, or hiss in tension when an athlete struggles to keep his balance for each particularly demanding form.
The most exciting portion comes in the afternoon – the “kyorugi” or sparring matches, and that’s when the personality of each athlete shows through. I particularly enjoyed the match between Indonesian athlete Aghniny Haque and Thai athlete Khamsribusa Wilasinee. Despite being shorter than her opponent (in a sport where the reach of your legs, and by extension your kicks, is actually pretty important), Aghniny more than made up for it with her fighting spirit. Even if Aghniny did not win her match, I am more than just a little in love with the fire in her and of course, her beautifully executed kicks.
Kudos also needs to be given to Cambodian fighter NY Sovannroth, who fought Singapore fighter Ng Ming Wei in the quarter fighters. It can’t be easy fighting an opponent who has most of the crowd’s support behind him (the perks of home ground advantage). When both fighters have only a few seconds to score that last point needed to win the match, it takes great strength to not buckle under the pressure of the expectation of the crowd and keep fighting. Even if my support is with my fellow countryman, Ming Wei, who emerged the winner in that round, I can’t help but have the utmost respect for the other athletes in this competition.
Another hidden pleasure from the SEA games is when you recognize the choice of fanfare each country and team chooses. I positively felt chills running down my spine when I heard the Game of Thrones main theme being played over the speakers (no, even if it’s a techno remix, it doesn’t make it any more reassuring) while mentally promising myself that if The Rains of Castamere starts playing, I’m getting the hell out of there.
The taekwondo competitions will continue into the weekend until Sunday 14 June, at Singapore EXPO Hall 2.
By Tessie Tan
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