Life lessons that I have learnt as an athlete

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan

People will question you every time you have a bad race, it is inevitable. No matter how hard it is, you just have to swallow your pride and say, “that guy performed better than me.

… But that isn’t the end of the world, you just lost a race, that’s all. Just remember that even the best athletes have their downfalls. That is the beauty of sport, it builds character. Even when you fall, you can always bounce back again on the next race. Same goes in life; If we ever face a setback in our career, we just have to get back up, try and try again until we succeed. Always remember that with every new day comes a second chance in life, so seize the opportunity and work hard towards your goal.

I know it’s easier said than done, but if you deal every setback with the right mindset, it won’t be hard to get back up on your feet again!

Even when the Sun goes down, you still have the stars to guide you.


So what if you fail? That’s just part and parcel of sport – You win some, you lose some, but that does not define who you are. We are defined by how we live our lives, and that is what matters most. It ain’t always about swimming, ain’t about the gold medals, it’s about shaping us in a direction which helps us grow, so that when retire from the sport, we can still be depended upon in the community.

A setback will only toughen us up, so don’t be afraid to fail. 

Sport builds character – Getting up before sunrise to train while others are still sleeping, sacrificing social life for that extra lap or rep in the gym, these are all sacrifices an athlete has to make in life in order to succeed, which in turn strengthens our character and trains our discipline which we can apply in our future careers.

Imagine yourself waking at 5am everyday now and after you retire from the sport, you only have to wake up at 7am to get ready for work, that’s an additional 2 hours of sleep time! How awesome is that?


To be honest, the biggest takeaway from sport is the unforgettable friendships forged among teammates. It’s not about how many medals I’ve won; those are just secondary incentives. Because 10 years down the road, people aren’t going to remember me for the medals that I’ve won, but they’ll remember me for who I am as a person, and that is what matters most.

Friendships, they last a lifetime.

pang sheng jun teo zhen ren

My greatest training mate may be my biggest rival in the competition, but that does not change the brotherhood that we have. Yes, we may be rivals in the pool, but competition aside, we will always be friends for life no matter what happens.

Sport teaches us sportsmanship, and we’ll still be happy for each other’s success no matter what the results may be.


In sport, the most impressionable lessons are the ones when something bad happens to you, or when something really challenging confronts you, you continue to push forward and fight against all odds. Because in a race, it’s not about who’s the stronger or faster competitor, it’s about who has the bigger heart, and who has the stronger will to win.

So don’t ever be afraid to face your fears and beat them. You’ll be amazed by what your body can do!


Character, Friendship, Sportsmanship – These are the key traits that sport has taught me, and I am happy that I chose to pursue my career in sports.


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