FOR most wushu exponents, the first outing in Sukma is a learning experience.
But 21-year-old Loh Jack Chang (pic) started as the favourite in men's taijiquan and he lived up to expectations by delivering the gold for Sarawak with a masterful performance at the SM Teknik Kuala Terengganu yesterday.
The late bloomer from Miri was deemed not good enough to make the Sarawak squad for the Kedah Games two years ago.
Jack Chang, however, shot to fame by capturing the silver medal at the Asian Championships in Macau last month.
“It is surprising that I had won a medal at the Asian level but yet to compete in Sukma.
“I only improved recently because I used to be a changquan exponent in my teenage years,” said Jack Chang.
“My coaches told me to switch to taijiquan two years ago because my style is more suited to the slower paced discipline.
“I was drafted into the national squad in late 2006 and my fortunes have improved since.”
Jack Chang scored 9.63 yesterday to finish ahead of Malacca's Go Boon Siong (9.37) and Negri Sembilan's Chan Wai Lit (9.24).
He had a swollen knee sustained in training for the Games but still managed to give a gold medal-winning performance.
“I needed to use an ice pack before and after my performance.
“ It was painful, especially when I stomped the floor but I learned to bear the pain and carry on.
“The injury prevented me from being at my best but I was confident that my routine would still be good enough to beat the rest of the field here,” said Jack Chang.
His effort took Sarawak's tally of gold medals in wushu to six after two days of competitions.
The other Sarawak gold medallists are Wee Jung Jieh (changquan) and Lau Hui Wei (nanquan, gunshu) in the men's events and Ho Jong Xian (daoshu, gunshu) in the women's section.