Story by Koh Yizhe/Red Sports. Photos by Marvin Lowe/Red Sports
Valerie Lim was in last place after two events, but she amazingly came back to finish 18th. (Photo 1 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
Singapore Sports School, Saturday, August 21, 2010 – Singapore’s Valerie Lim made quite a comeback in the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Modern Pentathlon when she overtook six competitors in the final running and shooting leg to finish 18th overall in a field of 24 pentathletes.
Modern Pentathlon combines the disciplines of fencing, swimming, running and shooting. The fifth discipline of equestrian is not included at youth level. The Singapore Modern Pentathlon Association (SIMPA) was only formed one and a half years ago and Valerie has only been training since last August.
It looked like Valerie Lim would end her many months of hard training in last place as she failed to meet expectations in the fencing and swimming leg of the competition. However, she did her personal best of 13:20.91 in the run and shoot to take 18th place.
“I came into the combined (the running and shooting leg) event very calm,” said a relieved Valerie after the race. “Honestly, I just wanted to be able to finish it quickly. The swimming leg had really upset me because I had done better times before and I expected better. I just wanted to finish it (the race).”
The day did not start very well for Valerie as she finished last in the Epee one-touch fencing leg with each competitor facing each other once. The 17-year-old only managed five victories and 18 defeats as she finished with just 560 points, nearly 100 points behind Ela Sedilekova of Slovakia and Belarus’s Marharyta Maseikava who were tied for 22nd. Although fencing was her weakest leg, she expected to do better.
The day only got worse in the 200m freestyle swimming leg for Valerie. She came into the tournament possessing the 10th fastest time in the past 12 months, clocking a time 2:22.13 minutes. In her heat, however, she only managed a time of 2:26.23 minutes. That gave her a 15th place finish in the swimming leg but at this point, she was still rooted to the bottom of the overall standings.
Valerie had 1608 points heading into the final leg, the combined running and shooting event, 36 points behind Ela Sedilekova in 23rd.
When asked how she felt before the tournament, she said, “I was scared. Very scared. Very very scared. Before the swim I was scared as well. My fencing and swimming leg were not up to expectations.”
Despite her disappointment, she came back strongly in the final leg. Athletes have to go through three rounds of running 1000 metres and shoot five targets in one and a half minutes. In her second and third rounds, Valerie overtook three opponents in each round, with her shooting helping her to overtake her more experienced competitors.
She eventually finished in 18th place out of 24 competitors.
“While I was shooting, I just told myself to remain calm,” explained Valerie. “Just keep calm, go slow and shoot. Slow and shoot. Then during the run, I just thought to myself, ‘Pace, pace, pace. Just finish it. Go go go go.’”
“The highlight of the whole day was just finishing the race and crossing the finish line,” added the Republic Polytechnic student.
“She did extremely well and honestly, what more can I ask for?” said Dennis Leong, who is her fencing coach. “These are world class athletes and so beating them in Singapore is a good result. Valerie only had serious training for a year and when compared with athletes who have been training since they were eight or nine years old, it is indeed a big challenge.”
“She was pretty upset that she didn’t do as expected in the first two events, but she was professional to sort it out herself to go forward from that. She caught up with six athletes and she definitely met expectations during the final leg.”
“Valerie made history today by being the first Modern Pentathlete representing Singapore!” said Mr Teo Ser Luck, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.
“She has done really well and come from behind to get a good position. It really exceeded my expectations. She and the association have truly displayed the spirit of the Olympic games and great fighting spirit. For me, it is very most fulfilling moment as this is a new sport and they’ve beaten more traditional pentathlon countries.”
Valerie flashes a smile at her supporters in the crowd. (Photo 2 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
Valerie in action during the fencing round where she managed only five victories. (Photo 3 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
Valerie, a swimmer by training, did not perform up to expectations in the swim leg. (Photo 4 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
Valerie was disappointed after her fencing and swimming legs … (Photo 5 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
… but was a happier girl after the whole event was over. Valerie gets a pat on the head from members of the Pentathlon team. Coach Dennis was extremely proud of his charge’s performance. Valerie overtook six other competitors to finish 18th overall. (Photo 6 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
Valerie pulling down her blindfold as she readies herself to shoot. (Photo 7 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)
Valerie takes aim using the laser gun. Valerie excelled in the shooting segment, enabling her to move up the ladder. (Photo 8 © Marvin Lowe/Red Sports)