Story by Chan Hui Mui/Red Sports. Pictures by Vanessa Lim/Red Sports

yog boys under 55kg taekwando

Myanmar’s Shein Naing takes a shot at Singapore’s Daryl Tan. Daryl won the match 6-5 to advance to the semi-finals, and assure Singapore of their first Youth Olympic Games medal. (Photo 1 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)

International Convention Centre, Monday, August 16, 2010 — Daryl Tan claimed the first ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG) medal for Singapore despite falling 12-0 to Iran’s world champion Kaveh Rezaei in the semi-final of the Men Under-55 kilogram category of the Taekwondo competition.

Daryl took home the bronze medal after defeating Myanmese Naing Dwe Shein Shein 6-5 to qualify for the semi-finals. There is no play-off for the bronze.

Daryl was aggressive and focused on kicks to the head. This proved to be a successful plan which was integral to his quarter-final victory.

Daryl started the match with a kick into Shien’s head to take a 3-0 lead. Both then exchanged several kicks. However, Shein had better accuracy and earned himself two points.

Daryl continued his kicking strategy which eventually paid dividends when he wrapped up the match 6-5.

Despite being the clear underdog in the semi-final, Daryl placed no pressure on himself. “The only pressure that I felt was to give my best,” said Daryl.

The semi-final was dominated by Rezaei who once again proved his worth as the world champion. He was also focused on head kicks and that earned him all 12 of his points from four head kicks. Even though Daryl attempted several attacks, quick reactions from Rezaei squashed Daryl’s tries and the Iranian wrapped up the match 12-0.

“This is an unexpected medal. Although I may seem very calm, deep down, I feel like screaming WOW!” said an excited Daryl after winning the first medal for Singapore in the Youth Olympic Games.

“Iranians are very strong. They do nothing but eat, sleep and taekwondo. We only hoped for top four before the start of YOG and he has done it,” said Singapore’s coach Wong Liang Ming.

Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, was present and he was proud of Daryl’s achievements.

“He’s a wonderful athlete. He put up an impressive fight, showing never-give-up spirit and self-belief. I’m happy about it and I hope to see more of such young athletes coming up,” he said.

On the other hand, Daryl’s compatriot Nur Zakirah Zakaria was defeated by Canadian Melanie Phan 15-6, and teared after the game.

“Zakirah was hopeful for a medal. Losing on home ground, she is devastated,” said coach Wong.


The start of the match saw Canada’s Melanie sending two kicks into Zakirah’s torso before the latter retaliated with a kick at Melanie’s head to lead 3-2. However, this was the furthest Zakirah would go.

Melanie got more aggressive, initiating more moves and earned the next nine points before Zakirah picked up three straight points when she sent another kick to Melanie’s head. But the Canadian picked up the pace, giving Zakirah no respite in taking the match 15-6.

Zakirah was in tears after the match and not in a state for an interview. Her coach shared her views on the match.

“Phan is one of the quarter-finalists in the World Junior Championship. She trains very hard. She’s a full-time athlete. Our strategy was to deceive her to make the move first before we counter-attack. Zakirah followed the strategy in the beginning of the match. However, she lost her focus as the match progressed, committing several mistakes,” said Wong.

“She has done her best. She was recovering from a knee injury. Initially, we were worried for her but she trained hard to make it for Youth Olympic Games.”

Singapore’s next Taekwondo representatives are Nurul Sahfinas and Christopher Lee. Nurul has received a bye into the women’s 44-55 kg quarter-finals which is on Tuesday, August 17th, at 3.22pm, while Christopher will be taking on Korean Kim Jin Hak in the Men’s 63-73kg quarter-finals at 3.45pm a day later.

yog boys under 55kg taekwando

Daryl Tan (red) scoring a point for a kick to the chest. (Photo 2 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)

yog boys under 55kg taekwando

Daryl Tan trying to put more points on the board. (Photo 3 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)

yog boys under 55kg taekwando

Singapore’s Daryl Tan takes a kick from Iran’s Rezaei Kaveh during the semi-final. (Photo 4 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)

yog boys under 55kg taekwando

Iran’s Rezaei Kaveh scores another 3 points from a kick to the opponent’s head. (Photo 5 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)

yog boys under 55kg taekwando

The match ends with Razaei winning 12-0, but Daryl still gets the bronze medal. (Photo 6 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)

yog girls under 49kg taekwando

Both Melanie Phan (blue) and Zakirah Zakaria (red) raise their legs, attempting a kick each. (Photo 7 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)

yog girls under 49kg taekwando

Melanie trying to score a point against Zakirah. She eventually won the game 15-6. (Photo 8 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)