SEA Games: Luo Yiwei wins first female track cycling medal for Singapore
Luo Yiwei picked up Singapore's first female track cycling medal at the SEA Games on Sunday (Aug 27). (Photo: Justin Ong)
KUALA LUMPUR: Luo Yiwei picked up Singapore's first-ever Southeast Asian (SEA) Games women's track cycling medal - a silver - at the 2017 edition on Sunday (Aug 27). The 27-year-old finished second in the women's omnium event with 161 points - three points behind gold medalist Jutatip Maneephan of Thailand.
Luo started out with triathlon in 2013 before narrowing down to road cycling late in 2016. The shift to the track came just earlier this year and the Games was only her second time racing the omnium.
The banking professional also took extended unpaid leave in May to prepare for the Games, heading to the US to train on a velodrome facility, which Singapore does not have.
Singapore has won its first ever #SEAGames track cycling medal with Luo Yiwei grabbing silver in the women's omnium event pic.twitter.com/meMNTEs4pX— justin (@JustinOngCNA) August 27, 2017
"I was quite sceptical as to whether I could even win a medal at all," said Luo, who also raced the road events at the Games last week. "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."
She added: "Winning Singapore's first-ever (women's) 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 lauded teammate and multiple Games medallist Dinah Chan for her "superb help" in shielding opponents during the final leg of the endurance event which sees riders accumulate points over four races in a single day.
"Years ago, I saw her in the papers and it's really nice to have her as a teammate now," said Luo. "She was a pillar of support, guiding me throughout the race, so I couldn't have done it without her."
Dinah Chan (left) and Loui Yiwei (right) pose with the Singapore national flag after the SEA Games women's omnium event on Sunday (Aug 27). (Photo: Justin Ong)
Chan finished sixth out of seven in what was her first crack at track cycling. On the roads, the 31-year-old has a gold medal from 2013 and three bronzes from 2015, 2011 and 2009.
"I came into this honestly not expecting anything," said Chan. "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," she told reporters in a separate, later interview from Luo's.
"So now, I'm ready to hand over to other people."