Dealing with the pressure of expectations


With just 24 days to go to the start of SEA Games, pressure’s definitely building up across all the sportsmen who are taking part in the coming games. Even though this is my 4th SEA Games, I’m honestly starting to feel the pressure building up as it’s home ground and also Singapore’s Jubilee year. However, don’t get me wrong, pressure’s good to push me to give my best during the games, but too much pressure isn’t a good thing.

I personally handle the pressure in a positive way to spur me on during race day, and you can do it too! In any case I hope my way of dealing with the pressure of expectations would help you deal with yours too.


1) Control the controllable


When facing the media, questions like “Who is your biggest competitor?”, “What do you want to achieve out of these games?”, “How many Gold medals are you aiming for?” are unavoidable and will always put you on the spot. However, as long as we are able to take their questions in a positive way, it wouldn’t affect us.

Always remember, your biggest competitor is yourself and as long as you do your best, you will have no regrets. Results are something that nobody has control of, so instead of focusing on the end result, we should focus on enjoying the process – like executing our race strategy well and taking good care of ourselves before race day, because these are things that we are in control of. We do not have control of how our competitors do on race day so that is something that we should ignore. If we focus too much on our competitors, we would tend to add unnecessary pressure on ourselves which may be detrimental to our own performances, so stop doing that.

To ensure that you are controlling the controllables, set goals that are specific to yourself, like timings that you wish to achieve instead of who you want to win in the race. In that way, you will stay true to your race plan and not panic when you see a competitor ahead of you.

With that said, as long as we focus on the process, we would be able to let go of ourselves and do well.


2) Enjoy the process


Honestly, after being in 3 SEA Games, I can say the best memory wasn’t about standing on the podium and receiving my medal. Yes, I was happy that I won a medal, but that wasn’t the most memorable thing that happened. What was most memorable for me was the endless conversations and encouragements I had with my roommates during the competition. We either had heart to heart talks or mega trash talks before our races and those are the reasons why we are so closely bonded today. When a team is bonded closely together, it doesn’t feel like an individual effort anymore. That is because you know that when you’re behind the starting blocks, you have your teammates who will be cheering you on through your whole race, and trust me it’s a totally different feeling knowing that you got your teammates behind your back.

As the saying goes, there is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’, so as long as we can create a strong team identity, we will forget about our own stresses and have a really strong team.

Medals will rust, but friendships would last a lifetime.


3) All the hard work has been done


There is honestly nothing extra that we can do now that would change our performances drastically. All the work has been done months leading up to it, so it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the games. Since you have been working hard for months, it’s time to trust yourself and let your body take over during your race. My best races have been done when I didn’t care much about it, I just let my body be in control instead of my mind, and let go of everything that’s holding me back and race my heart out.


A phrase I constantly remind myself is to “Let go, and let God.” As long as you prepared to the best of your ability, leave the rest up to God, because if you already done your best, God will do the rest.


4) Ultimately, everyone wants the best for you


As we all can expect the stadiums would be pretty much filled up when the games begin, and this time around it will be filled with fellow Singaporeans who will be cheering you on during your race. It does feel good to be cheered on, but there will definitely be added pressure to perform as they would want to see you win.

But with that said, don’t let their cheers affect you in a negative way, take it in a positive way. Just know that our supporters just want the best for us, and even if we fail to deliver, I’m sure that they will always be there for us anyway.

Also, sports is always a shared effort, so do remember that you are not the only one that is nervous. Your parents and coaches will be equally as nervous too! But always keep in mind that they’re like that simply because they care a lot and want the best for you, so we should take their care and concern in a positive way instead of pressuring ourselves to do well. If they’re stressing you out a little, it only shows that they care a lot about you.

Ultimately, everyone just wants us to be happy so we should!

Winning is beyond our control and if the expectation to win is high, our disappointment would be higher if we fail to win. No matter what, we have to set realistic expectations of the games and enjoy the whole process of it!


With all that said, I’m just going to enjoy the whole process, give it my all for this coming SEA Games and I’m sure that all of my hard work will pay off.

I wish all athletes who are taking part in the coming SEA Games the best of luck! 24 more days, let’s make it a memorable one. 🙂


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