By Tom Degun in Singapore
August 16 - Daryl Tan Jia Jun has become an instant hero in Singapore as he secured the host’s first medal at the inagurual Summer Youth Olympic Games with an unexpected bronze in taekwondo.
The 17-year old lost to the eventual winner and world junior champion Kaveh Rezaei of Iran 12-0 in the boy’s 55kg event but took the bronze as there are no play-offs for the third place.
World junior champion Rezaei went on to win gold medal with a 4-2 victory over Nursultan Mamayev of Kazakhstan but Tan had guaranteed himself and his nation at least a bronze in the 12-strong competition after winning his quarterfinal bout against Myanmar’s Naing Dwe Shein Shein with a 6-5 quarter-final victory.
After writing himself into Singapore’s sporting history with his unexpected success, Tan admitted he was outclassed by Rezaei but happy to win delighted to win his country's first ever Youth Olympic medal.
Tan said: "This is the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced.
"I feel I should have tried harder.
"But at least I have a medal for Singapore."
Teo Ser Luck, the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Community Youth and Sports and Transport, said: "This is a great moment for Singapore and an even greater moment for Daryl Tan.
"We salute his achievement in getting Singapore our first medal in YOG.
“He has shown that anything is possible, even for our small country.
"Our investment in youth development is starting to bear fruit and we hope Daryl will be an example to all our other athletes.
"We didn’t expect to win a taekwondo medal but it truly is a wonderful surprise."
Tan added that he is optimistic about flying the Singapore flag at the upcoming 2011 South East Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia, but says the London 2012 Olympic Games is his ultimate goal.
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