In a blink of an eye, 10 years has passed since the creation of the Singapore Sports School (SSP), it’s scary how time really flies. I attended the Singapore Sports School 10th anniversary yesterday and wow it brought back so many memories. As an SSP student you don’t actually feel the changes in the school because you’re living there every day. It’s just like how your parents would always see you as a child though you’ve already mature.
What really struck me most was one of the segments of the night: showing a video clip of the progress the Sports School has made from 2003 to 2013. Though the progression was slow and steady, the changes in the school were drastic. It goes to show that baby steps are the key to success in everything you do.
Watching the video brought back so many fruitful memories I had when I was a secondary student; the times where I was forced to be independent, the tough training sessions, the unforgettable times spent with my friends, the rules I’ve broken (I didn’t get caught haha), the teachers and coaches that taught me the right path of life, and many many more. All I thought to myself when I was watching that video was, “don’t cry… Not now please, I still have an award to receive.” The only reason for me holding my tears back was to not look bad in the camera later. To be able to see how much I’ve mature over the years in just a 3-4minute video was really amazing.
For those who are wondering what award I was receiving, it was the Sports School’s Outstanding Sports Achievement Award, a prestigious award that only a few students could get, an award that I’ve been aiming for for a long time:
Well, I’ve finally earned it and words can’t express how happy I am to be able to receive this award.
Staff and Students
Of course, SSP wouldn’t have been complete without the staff and students who played a part in making the school the best place to be in.
These are some of the staff that made my Sports School journey the best I could ever ask for:
Mrs Deborah Tan (Principal):
Though I’ve already graduated when Mrs Tan came to SSP, she always cared for each and every Alumnus. Asking us how our day went, dropping by the pool and gym to see how we were doing, and offering help if we needed it. She made me feel like I was still part of the SSP family.
Dr Irwin Seet:
He managed to convince my parents to join the Singapore Sports School when I was still a kid as he knew that joining SSP was the right choice for sportsmen.
Mr Raymond Mak:
He was the dean of our cohort. Like a fatherly figure, he always made sure that I could keep up with my studies without jeopardizing my swimming. He knew that I had a lot of passion for swimming therefore he always encouraged me to train hard. Like what Mr Mak says, “I believe that there isn’t an age limit for studies, but there is an age limit for sports, so chase your sporting dreams now and never live in regret.” To date, he still comes down to support me during my swimming competitions. He was more than just a teacher to me.
Most of my swimming successes came from him. Through the 7 years that I’ve been training under him I’ve made it to the finals in the 2010 Asian Games, 2009 Asian Youth Games, 2010 Youth Olympic Games, 2009 2011 and 2013 SEA Games. I’ve also won my first SEA Games Gold medal under him, couldn’t have asked for a better coach in the Sports School. Though I no longer train with the Sports School, I’ll never forget how Coach Fang trained me up to where I am today. He is already like a father to me as I’ve spent at least 5 hours training a day for 7 years.
He’s been in the Sports School ever since it begun, time really flies. He’s always made sure that I was being pushed to my limit every time I’m in the gym. Words of motivation and encouragement always pushed me to go the extra mile during training. He doesn’t look as strong as he usually is with such formal wear, but to be honest I think his shirt would rip if I were to ask him to flex haha!
I had a couple of boxing sessions over the weekends under Jason during my preparation for the SEA Games. Jason offered boxing lessons to me during the weekends though it was out of his working schedule. I didn’t want to trouble him at first but he said, “Pang, all of these sessions won’t matter as long as you bring home the Gold for Singapore. And I’ll be happy to be a part of it.”
The boarding staff that always believes in second chances. I used to be a very playful kid during my secondary school days, doing really childish things in boarding school, refusing to tidy my bed up and mop my floor as I thought it was a waste of time. Mr Ramond was really patient. Instead of punishing me, he always explained the rationale behind why things are done which made me understand clearer on why certain things are done in boarding school. I’ve mature a lot under him.
Students who have made a huge impact in my life:
Being my senior, I’ve always looked up on him, back in the SSP days I strived to become like him. He was the best swimmer in SSP during the days and not only that; he was a great motivator to the team. I remembered back in the day our coach gave us a set of 100x100m swims, which added up to a total of 10km. Instead of bruiting over the fact that it was a boring set (it still is), Ben told us that it wasn’t impossible to complete. And while we were doing the set, though everyone was tired, he would try to sing a long just to lighten up the mood a bit (Do take note that he himself is struggling too). After we were done with the set Ben just lied down by the poolside and I could tell that he had 0 energy left. I could honestly say I wouldn’t have completed 100 without his motivation.
Though Ben and I were competitors in the same discipline, Individual Medley, we were still great friends. It’s actually really hard for swimmers with the same stroke discipline to stay as great friends, but we were able to see beyond the sport and treasure our friendship.
Ben soon retired from swimming as he gained more interest in Music and Acting. To me, anyone would be successful as long as you put your heart into it, and he is a living example. Though he left the sport and branched out to a new area, he is still successful.
Ben is currently the lead singer in The Sam Willows (http://thesamwillows.com/) and is also the lead actor in Ah Boys to Men, the Musical. His determination is something that we all can learn from.
To date, our friendship is still going strong, and I’ll always look up to him.
4 Aces (Ching Hwang, Eing, Enqi and me):
I believe that though swimming is an individual sport, friendship and teamwork is still the key factor to success in swimming. The group that I stuck close to in SSP were the 4 Aces: Ching Hwang, Eing, Enqi and I. We would always encourage one another during training and constantly remind ourselves that hard work will always pay off. Ching Hwang and I were also able to see beyond competition and give priority to friendship. To us, swimming is just a milestone in our life, but friendships last forever. Like what Ching Hwang always say about competition: May the best man win. Working as a team we’ve all managed to achieve the goals we set ourselves up for. Ching Hwang won a Gold medal in the 2013 Asian Youth Games and a couple of medals in the 2013 SEA Games, Eing won a couple of medals in the 2013 Asian Youth Games and 2013 SEA Games, and Enqi won a silver medal in the 2013 Asian Youth Games. But ultimately to us, medals aside, we treasure our friendship more than anything else, and that is what sport should be all about.
Overall, it was an enjoyable ride, and if I could rewind time, I wouldn’t have chosen another path. I thank my parents for supporting me into this path when I was a kid. SSP has thought me many values and skills which I am currently applying now in my daily life. In the Sports School, it’s not always about having good grades and good sporting achievements; yes, that is important, but what I find most important is that Sports School has also taught me how to be a better person and how to live life to the fullest through their Character Development Program (CDP) lessons every Friday. I can still remember how much I hated those CDP lessons as it interrupted with my nap time before training, but looking back I thank the Sports School for having this program. All in all, Sports School has groomed me to who I have become today and I am grateful for everything.
I still remember there were photos of other successful sportsmen when I came in during secondary one. I thought to myself, “One day, I want to be amongst one of these great sportsmen. I’ll get there, watch me.” Well having a goal is important, but believing that you will achieve it one day is more important, and I always believed in myself. And true enough, 9 years later, here I am, finally being able to stand beside myself and say “I’ve done it!”. The journey to this day has definitely been a really tough one, but every second of hard work and determination was worth it. Really honored to be one of the few featured athletes in the Singapore Sports School!
A message to all current my SSP students
Don’t be afraid to dream big, no matter how hard or far-fetched your goal may be, nothing is impossible. Take me as an example, my friends would have definitely laughed at me if I were to tell them that I wanted to be one of the best athletes, but I always believed in myself and constantly motivated myself to go the extra mile, to train hard and reach my goals. Just remember, every achievement starts from believing in yourself, believing that you’re the best and nothing will get in your way. As long as you put your heart into it and work for it, you’ll get there one day. Don’t give up!
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