On Sunday (Aug 21), 27-year-old Singaporean Luo Yiwei picked up the first-ever Southeast Asian (SEA) Games cycling medal for Singapore.
Luo Yiwei won silver in the women’s omnium event, scoring 161 points, only three points behind this year’s winner Jutatip Maneephan of Thailand.
Before shifting to road cycling in late 2016, Luo was competing in triathlon since 2013. She switched to track racing in early 2017 and SEA Games 2017 was only her second time racing the omnium.
To prepare for the games, the banking professional took extended unpaid leave from work in May and headed to the US to train on a velodrome facility, which isn’t available in Singapore.
Luo Yiwei, who also raced the road events at the Games, states:
“I was quite skeptical as to whether I could even win a medal at all.“
“But I had nothing to lose… I was fit enough, the field was quite tired, and I could sense that people were just waiting, so I took my chance and went for a breakaway.“
“It felt incredible when I found out I had won the silver.“
“Winning Singapore’s first-ever track cycling medal at a major games puts a weight on my shoulders, but there are all these track cyclists who have been training hard and going overseas just to get time on a velodrome, and we’re hoping that our results here will help to create awareness that we can have a velodrome in Singapore.“
She also praised her teammate and multiple Sea Games medalist Dinah Chan and thanked her for the superb help in shielding opponents in the final part of the endurance event, where riders accumulate points over four races in one day:
“Years ago, I saw her in the papers, and it’s really nice to have her as a teammate now. She was a pillar of support, guiding me throughout the race, so I couldn’t have done it without her.“
Chan, a former gold medalist from 2013 and three-time bronze medalist, finished sixth out of seven in her first attempt at track cycling and had nothing but praise for the younger teammate:
“I came into this honestly not expecting anything. Yiwei is like a younger sister to me, and I’m very happy she won, and I played a part in it.“
“I’m just very happy that last time (sic), I wanted to inspire other people and Yiwei’s telling me she saw me in the newspapers and thought she wanted to be like me.“
“So now, I’m ready to hand over to other people.“
This story was first published by Straits Times.
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