In sports, some sportspersons have to endure very long waits for achieving their goal. If that goal is a gold medal at a multi-discipline, multi-national event, the wait could often be longer than a decade. For some it could even be as long as two decades. But you would have hardly heard of a person winning a gold after waiting more than two decades.
But now, an aquatic sports competitor has achieved the hard-to-believe feat of winning a gold medal at South East Asian (SEA) Games nearly four decades after making her debut in this biennial event. This athlete is Christina Tham from Singapore. She made her first SEA Games appearance as far back as 1981.
Now, in 2019, she has won gold at the event, albeit in a different sport, but a gold nevertheless. The 50-year old captured the top prize in underwater hockey, as a member of the Singapore team. What's even more special is the fact that she didn't just win one gold but two. The other also came in the same sport but a different code. Her first gold came in 6x6 version and the second in 4x4.
At her first SEA Games, Tham was competing as a swimmer, specializing in breaststroke, and was just 12 years old. She earned success straightaway and won silver in the 4X100 meters medley race. In 1983, she gained another silver, in her second SEA Games, this time as an individual competitor.
But then, she faded away and there were no further appearances by Tham in SEA Games as a swimmer. In 2005, she saw an advertisement related to underwater hockey and decided to pursue this sport. After having initial difficulties in making the transition, she succeeded in excelling in it and qualified for the national side.
After having represented Singapore in the World Championships of the sport, she was ready for the SEA Games. In her third appearance at this event, her 38-year wait for gold ended. When it rains, it pours, so not just one but two golds came her way.
"It feels incredible, awesome, unbelievable. I don't know if anyone else has done or is doing what I'm doing," an elated Tham said after her team's victory.