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Wushu: Singapore's Yong Yi Xiang heads to China for training

The target is a gold medal at the SEA Games next year and for that, 20-year-old wushu athlete Yong Yi Xiang will be spending the next 12 months training full-time alongside some of the best Chinese exponents in Shandong, China.

SINGAPORE: The target is a gold medal at the SEA Games next year and for that, 20-year-old wushu athlete Yong Yi Xiang will be spending the next 12 months training full-time alongside some of the best Chinese exponents in Shandong, China.

Yong, a former world junior champion who picked up a bronze medal at the Myanmar SEA Games last December in duilian (unarmed), is headed to the Shandong Province Wushu Academy where he will train and spar with members of the Chinese national team.

His trip there is the result of the ties between the Singapore Wushu Federation (SWF) and their Chinese counterparts, though, on Yong's part, he has had make some hard decisions, including putting his tertiary studies on hold.

"Yi Xiang has earned a place at the National University of Singapore (NUS) to do engineering but thought he is still young and can afford to take time off from his studies to pursue his sporting interest," said Ken Chan, a member of the SWF management committee. "We appreciate the sacrifices he is making but in sports and the pursuit of glory, sometimes sacrifices have to be made."

Also heading to China is 24-year old Valerie Wee, who won the women's duilian gold at the Myanmar Games. Wee will be based in Fujian for a year where she is likely to train alongside the current world taijichuan champion, Zhuang Ying Ying.

"The two are our best gold-medal hopes and training with the Chinese athletes will help them tremendously," said Chan. "We will give the best possible support to our athletes in their chase for medals at next year's SEA Games at home, and will also send other athletes to join Yi Xiang and Valerie for short training stints.

Singapore are hoping to improve on their one gold, two silver and two bronze medal haul from Myanmar and eyeing a greater share of the 20 gold medals at stake next June.

"As hosts this time, we are expected and are confident of doing better. After all, there is the home ground advantage and the support of the fans," said Chan. "I won't say how many gold medals we will win but we will have to do better than we did in Myanmar."

For the SWF, sending two athletes for full-time training in China for the next year is not all about dollars and cents.

"Sure, it will cost us money (to put the two of them there), and Fujian and Shandong are not exactly cheap cities," added Chan. "And there are also the monthly expenses we have to pay the two of them for training full-time, and for visits by their parents. But at the end of the day, we also appreciate their willingness to travel to China to train full-time.

"Valerie is a graduate of Australia's Curtin University and she has decided to put her working career on hold. Yi Xiang is due to start his varsity education but decided to postpone it. How many people are willing to do that?" Chan asked.

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