Fu Mingtian, cousin of Chinese national diver Fu Mingxia, made Singapore history yesterday at the SEA Games.
She became the first Singaporean to not only reach the women's badminton singles finals, she also won it with a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Firdasari of Indonesia, who obviously had home court advantage.
Yet it wasn't the simple story of winning gold that captured alot of Singaporean hearts.
It was the grueling match itself where she stretched herself to the limit, and refusal to succumb to defeat that made this historic moment so sweet. Even against the vociferous and hostile crowd in the stadium and some impressive play by her opponent, she still held her own.
The final game was the most nail-biting. Both sides exchanged point for point from 12-12 all the way to 19-19. And then Firdasari won the next point making it 20-19 match point in her favour. I thought it was over, but Fu Mingtian refused to give in and took the next 3 points to win instead.
A very sweet victory indeed.
And even though she obviously cannot sing our national anthem (yet), I felt very proud of her having helped Singapore earn another gold medal in this fashion. In fact while Majulah Singapura was playing amidst the ugly booing from the hostile Indonesian crowd, she was seen moved to tears too.
I am in awe.
Many PRC FTs that we love to convert under our national sports program often have this nonchalant, it's-purely-business air about them where they took up citizenship purely for the material aspect of improving their lives through the sports they play.
Yet there are some who treasure the opportunity and embrace our country as their new home and identity. And from their efforts representing our nation, they endear themselves into Singaporean hearts.
I would put Fu Mingtian up there among them.