By Patrick Johnston
The wind at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre was calm but the nerves of Singapore sailor Ryan Lo were certainly not as he faced an anxious wait before joining team mate Maximilian Maeder as an Asian Games gold medallist on Wednesday (Sep 27).
The men’s formula kite and ILCA 7s golds were Singapore’s first at the Hangzhou Games, with fellow sailor Victoria Chan also claiming bronze in the women’s ILCA 6s to cap a fantastic day for the country.
Maeder (kite) and Lo (ILCA 7s) had arrived for the final day of competition ahead of their respective fields but the wind didn’t, with organisers delaying the action in the hope of enough breeze before eventually cancelling the finals and declaring the Singaporeans champions.
Sailor Ryan Lo raises his arm in celebration while standing on top of the podium after winning the Asian Games ILCA 7s gold medal at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre. (Photo: Sport Singapore/Jeremy Lee)
“It means a lot, Asian Games gold, a first for me, and I also qualified the country for the Olympics. I couldn’t be happier at this moment,” said Lo, 26, who also won gold at the SEA Games earlier this year.
“It was very nerve-wracking having to wait this long for a race. The whole morning I was just following the tracking and seeing the wind conditions and trying to mentally prep myself for the race. I was going with the mindset that I was going to race until the last minute when they said there was to be no more racing and then I could finally relax a little bit.”
Singapore’s Ryan Lo (centre boat) sails against Pakistan and South Korea opponents in the open race stage of the Asian Games ILCA 7s at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre. (Photo: Sport Singapore/Jeremy Lee)
Lo won two of the 11 open races ahead of Wednesday’s final to hold a healthy lead in the open standings. His gold medal will go alongside his two Asiad bronzes but, ever the competitor, he was already looking ahead to the Paris Olympics next year.
“Really special to get an (Olympic) quota spot, but this is only the beginning. The sailing in the ILCA 7s is really tough, there are many good sailors so I just need to keep working and keep trying to improve and we will see where I am at in July next year, if I (personally) qualify.”
Kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder punches his fist in delight while holding the Singapore flag after winning the Asian Games men’s formula kite gold medal at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre. (Photo: Sport Singapore/Jeremy Lee)
Teenager Maeder had won all 16 races in the open section and the reigning world champion was red-hot favourite to seal gold on his Asiad debut before the seven-man final was eventually cancelled.
“I was excited to definitely compete and have one last race but the conditions are what they are and I’m no less happy, that is for sure,” the 17-year-old said of the final.
“I’m so happy to be able to compete here at the Asian Games for the first time, what an experience. I was really supported by the team and really felt the team spirit and that played a big part in the result here. What a regatta. Great team spirit and great pride in my nation.”
Victoria Chan had won two of her 11 races in the open section as she claimed bronze after her final was also cancelled because of the weather conditions.
"I wanted another race because I was actually only one point away from second, but this is what sailing is about," she said.
“It’s been a good showing for the whole Singapore team. We have a really good team spirit and support each other."
Singapore’s Victoria Chan holds the flag in celebration after claiming bronze in the Asian Games women’s ILCA 6s at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre. (Photo: Sport Singapore/Jeremy Lee)
Sailing has been Singapore’s most successful sport in the history of the Asian Games, with the latest victories taking the sport’s tally to 16 gold since the first Asiad in 1951.
Maeder hoped the sailing team’s efforts of two gold, two silver and three bronze in Hangzhou would inspire a nation.
“I hope that it raises the profile of being an athlete in Singapore, more than anything else. So if I can inspire, not just kiters, but athletes in general, that would be such a dream come true for me.”
Singapore’s sailing team, coaches, and technical support staff celebrate on the podium after the Asian Games medal ceremonies at the Ningbo Xiangshan Sailing Centre. (Photo: Sport Singapore/Jeremy Lee)
The 19th Asian Games are held in Hangzhou, China from 23 September to 8 October 2023. For the latest Team Singapore coverage and news, follow Team Singapore on their social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok) or visit the official Team Singapore website.