Constance Lien eyes more after winning SEA Games gold on debut
Sportsgirl of the Year adds SEA Games title to world championship win, but eyes another world title
She was named the Sportsgirl of the Year in May after winning a silver medal on her Asian Games debut last year.
But jiu-jitsu exponent Constance Lien, 20, is bent on making this year another one to remember as well.
Seven months ago, she became a world champion after clinching the World International Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Championships' blue belt featherweight (U-58.5kg) title. She was then promoted to purple belt.
Yesterday, she capped a splendid season by clinching the SEA Games gold in the women's Under-62kg class, after defeating Vietnam's Nguyen Ngoc Tu by submission, following a dominant performance on the mats at the LausGroup Event Center in New Clark City.
In the process, she completed her objectives for the year.
It was not how she imagined it while growing up. The former swimmer had hoped for a SEA Games medal from the pool but, since her switch to jiu-jitsu three years ago, Lien's trajectory to glory has shown no signs of slowing down.
"Constance has grown so much since she started training jiu-jitsu with me at Evolve MMA, " said her coach Teco Shinzato, who is also the national jiu-jitsu coach.
"I've said it before, I truly believe she has the potential to be a black- belt world champion some day.
"She has a lot to be proud of and I believe she will lead the charge and take jiu-jitsu to new levels for women in the sport in Asia. She is one of the best athletes I have ever had the opportunity to teach..."
Lien showed her mettle yesterday after defeating Thailand's Orapa Senatham, 27, in the quarter-finals and the Philippines' Apryl Eppinger, 34, in the semi-finals.
In the final, she had the measure of her 29-year-old opponent and, using a bow-and-arrow choke, she ended the contest with Nguyen, also a purple-belt holder.
"The final was rather smooth. I could have done a lot better, but I'm just really blessed that everything worked out," said Lien, who pointed to the sky before kneeling after her win.
Team manager May Ooi said: "It was a very, very dominant performance, very controlled.
"She was taking (her) time to to submit her opponent... because she was in a dominant position... she was being cautious."
Lien is not resting on laurels just yet. The Temasek Polytechnic graduate, who is on a gap year, has her sights trained on another world title.
"I'm looking at the worlds next year as a purple belt."
Besides Lien's gold, Singapore bagged two more bronzes yesterday through Kwan Yan Wei (men's U-77kg) and Fiona Toh (women's U-55kg), bringing the sport's medal tally to seven (two golds, one silver, four bronzes).
"We did very, very well... I was hoping for three golds from nine medals," said Ooi, 42. "We came back with two golds and seven medals in total."
Lien was also pleased and "proud" of the overall performance by the squad in a sport making its debut at the Games.
"Whatever we achieved the past two days, it's only possible because of the entire team and the people working behind the scenes," said Lien.
"We're definitely going in the right direction."