SIBU: Leila, Liina and Lily Luik from Estonia did not win any medal at the 2016 Olympic Games. But they made headlines as the first identical triplets to compete against each other when they ran the marathon in Rio de Janeiro.
Closer to home, in Sibu, there is also the story of three Yew siblings involved in one same sport.
Sydney, 17, Tiffany, 14 and Erica, 13, who all study at SMK Tiong Hin, are attached to Rejang Taekwondo Club (RTC).
They have not reached Olympic standards but the trio’s passion for taekwondo is second to none.
They are still young but, make no mistake, they are aiming to soar. “It’s nothing impossible and if the girls are willing to train hard and eye further glory, there is always a possibility that they can one day scale greater heights,” their mother Betty Chiong Liong Hie said.
Chiong still has two other younger daughters aged six and two.
“These two are still young and when they grow up, I will ensure that they will also take up taekwondo as their extra curricular activities and, indeed, I will feel proud to have my whole family involved in taekwondo.”
After all Chiong’s husband was a former state taekwondo exponent.
“We are a family of taekwondoists, a meaningful sport that we all share for its traditional merits and values,” she added.
The mother insists she is not demanding but, nevertheless, she is looking forward to see her girls returning with some achievements each time they take part in a local or national tournament.
Eldest daughter Sydney is the most outspoken and her love of her favourite sport remains undiminished.
“She rarely missed the training sessions and, one time when I was busy with my house chores, she pestered me to hurry up and bring her to the training centre. Such is her passion for the sport,” Chiong recalls.
Known for her effervescent nature, Sydney has been involved in taekwondo since she was nine.
“It was my father who first introduced the sport to me. My father is also an ardent taekwondoist during his school days and, from him, I managed to grab the thrill of taekwondo and, gradually, I fell in love with the sport,” Sydney said.
Her first big breakthrough came in last year’s Inter-Division Schools Championship held in Kuching when she clinched the gold in her event.
She went on to pick up a silver at the 2017 Chief Minister Borneo Cup International Invitational Taekwondo (CMBCIIT) Championship. This year she won another gold medal at the Sarawak Championship in the women’s open category.
Currently, she is training under coach Tie Tong Hung at Rejang Taekwondo Club (RTC) at Jalan Wong King Huo on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 to 9pm. She’s off to train from 8 to 10am on Saturday and Sunday.
Sydney aspires to represent Sarawak in the Malaysia Games (Sukma) one day.
Last year, she took part in the Sukma selection trial but she has yet to make the Sukma shadow team. It was a bitter disappointment but it has not deterred her from continuing to train hard.
“Only the best are shortlisted for Sukma and I believed that all those picked are better than me. Nevertheless, I will train hard and hope to one day represent the state in Sukma.”
Tiffany is three years younger and attributes her devotion to the sport to Sydney.
“At home, my elder sister often talks to me about taekwondo and, over time, I also became addicted to it,” she revealed.
A bit timid, always giggling when interviewed, Tiffany admits that taekwondo is a tough sport but says that is why she likes it.
“I like action sport as since young, I have always watched action movies and also like to play video games associated with violence.”
She picked up the sport when she was only seven and is probably the most outstanding of the three so far.
To date she has won gold medals at the 2017 CMBCIIT Championship and 2018 State Inter-School Championship.
But she failed to return with any medal at the 2017 National Youth Championship in Kuala Lumpur.
“I will continue to train hard at the RTC centre and, hopefully, I will one day hit the jackpot,” she stated.
Erica, youngest of the three, may well be the most talented.
She has collected the most titles compared to her two older sisters when they were her age.
Lively and bubbly, Erica chalked up almost all the titles when she took part in both the local or state championship.
“I have a strong feeling that Erica’s performance will supercede her sisters,” Betty believes.
Last year, Erica emerged champion in the CMBCIIT for the U-13 category.
Over 500 athletes from 19 countries took part in that tournament.
“It was a tough battle and I was fortunate to come back with the title,” she recalled.
She also won a gold at this year’s Inter Division Schools Championship held in Kuching.
‘I want to be better than my two elder sisters and the only way to beat their records is to train hard. I know that and that is why I am not going to give my training lessons any miss,” she said.
No one is happier to hear that than RTC chiecf coach Thomas Tang.
“They have build a name for themselves in the taekwondo fraternity and, given time, they should be able to scale greater heights,” he said.
“All the three sisters are hardworking but Tiffany has an added advantage to go far due to her age category that offered better chances of winning medals. Nevertheless, Tiffany still needs to work hard, polish her game and I believe she will stand out amomg her three sisters,” he added.
Earlier this year, RTC returned with 15 gold, 17 silver and 27 bronze medals at the Sarawak Taekwondo Championship held in Kuching, their best ever performance.
The three Yew sisters contributed two gold medals and one silver medal. Indeed, the trio are part of the vibrant scene at RTC where around 500 students from all communities- some as young as seven – are actively involved in the sport.
They come from secondary schools such as SMK Chung Cheng, SMK Lanang, SMK Kwong Hua, SMK Dalat, SMK Oya, SMK Tiong Hin and SM Wong Nai Siong and primary schools like SJK Chung Cheng, SJK Su Lai, SJK Thai Kwang, SJK Sacred Heart Chinese, SJK Chung Hua, SK St John, SK St Mary, SJK Dung Sang and SJK Chin Hua.
“We will continue to work hard to ensure that the sport will remain relevant in Sibu Division,” Tang said as he highlighted the club’s mission to attract young exponents who will benefit from character development and also secure an opportunity to bring glory to Sibu, Sarawak or the country in taekwondo.