SINGAPORE – When she joined the national team in 2022, Singapore wushu exponent Zeanne Law would be happy just to compete alongside top foreign athletes whom she looked up to.
But on Nov 18, she became the subject of admiration instead, as the 18-year-old topped a 17-strong field to win the women’s taijiquan world title at the Nov 16-20 World Wushu Championships in Texas, United States.
Law, who delivered the Republic’s fifth gold medal at the biennial meet, told The Straits Times described it as “a dream come true”, adding: “It is a surreal feeling to be standing on top of the podium at my first world championships.
“I never thought this moment would come by so quickly as I’m relatively young compared to my competitors.
“This success is based on the countless hours of dedicated training and constant fine-tuning of my techniques and strategies. The accumulated experience from this year’s SEA and Asian Games enabled me to have a better grasp of what to do and enhanced my confidence for these world championships.”
While it was challenging to adapt to the 14-hour time difference and lower temperatures, Law said having a well-planned regimen helped her stay focused and overcome those obstacles.
Vincent Ng was Singapore’s wushu world gold medallist when he won the men’s daoshu event in 1995. He was followed by women’s duilian trio Emily Sin, Tay Yu Juan and Tao Yi Jun in 2011, women’s taijiquan winner Ho Lin Ying in 2013 and men’s xinyingquan champion Tan Xiang Tian in 2015.
Law, who finished fifth out of 17 in the women’s taijijian on Nov 17, clinched her first major international title in dramatic fashion as it took the second of five tiebreaker criteria to separate her from Filipino runner-up Agatha Wong, 25, after both scored 9.776 points in the final at the Fort Worth Convention Centre.
The Singapore Sports School student was awarded the gold as she completed a move with a higher difficulty – a 450-degree turn compared with Wong’s 360-degree turn. Brunei’s Basmar Lachkar, 20, was third with 9.770, while Singapore’s Vera Tan, 25, placed eighth with 9.643.
Law said: “When I saw Agatha’s score, my heart dropped for a moment. Thankfully, my higher difficulty level helped me secure first place. It was a close contest and I was kept on the edge of my seat until the final positions were confirmed. It was definitely thrilling and nerve-racking.”
Taijiquan and taijijian, like daoshu and gunshu, fall under the taolu (set routine) umbrella in wushu, and athletes are awarded points on quality of movements, overall performance and degree of difficulty.
In the event of tied scores, a set of tiebreaker criteria will be applied.
These are: a higher degree-of-difficulty score, successfully completing the tougher move, successfully completing the tougher move more times, a higher score for overall performance, and a higher lowest-discarded overall performance score from those awarded by five judges.
If the athletes still remain inseparable, they will share the medal.
While Law savoured her narrow victory, teammate Tay Yu Xuan was left to rue the final tiebreaker criterion as he lost the men’s taijijian world title by just 0.04 to Chinese Taipei’s Chen Yu-wei on Nov 19.