Here’s to the aspiring Olympians that didn’t make it

This post goes out to all the athletes who fall under the same category as me – the ones who spent countless hours working their hearts out to qualify for the Olympic Games, but ended up missing the games.

You guys have also dedicated your lives for the sport, and did your very best to be an Olympian, so please do not see any less of yourselves. Keep your head up and DON’T GIVE UP!!! Because Tokyo 2020 is just around the corner. 🙂

Having made the B qualification mark for the Olympics, I ended up failing to qualify for the Olympic Games due to the 900 swimmer limit that the IOC has, and I’m sure that many of you swimmers faced the same issue as well.

I’m honestly pretty sad that I’ve failed to make it to the 2016 Olympics, but there is no excuse for not making the Olympics besides not being better than I wanted myself to be.

I actually contemplated on retirement a little – I missed the most prestigious competition that any swimmer can ever aim for, and in 4 years time, I may be too old for Tokyo.

However, I managed to shrug those negative thoughts away from me, which is why I want to share this post with you today. If you are having the same thoughts, please read on and don’t give up just yet.

Watching this years Olympics really reignited the burning fire I had inside of me, and I’m glad to say that right now I’m back up on my feet and training hard towards the next Olympic Games!

In particular, 2 swimmers have inspired me and kept this dream alive – Anthony Ervin and Michael Phelps.

anthony ervin.jpg

In the Men’s 50m Freestyle, the favorites going in were Florent Manaudou and Nathan Adrian. Ervin retired from the sport for about 8 years before his passion for the sport came back again, and had some pretty bad swims which lead to many doubters. I remember watching the race and my friend and I wanted Ervin to win, because we knew his story, and he’s been through a lot of tough times – from attempting suicide from overdosing tranquilizers to riding at dangerously high speeds on motorcycles when high on cocaine. Realizing he failed to kill himself, he felt like God had reborn-ed him, in a way. Age was also a factor when it came to this competition – Most swimmers in the finals were at their mid 20s while Ervin was 35, so he was definitely not the favorite coming into this race.

Ervin ended up winning the race with a 21.40 seconds, just 0.01s ahead of the favorite Florent Manadou. And you can roughly picture how much my friend and I were screaming with excitement seeing a “1” sign beside Anthony Ervin’s name.

michael phelps.jpg

“It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”

I always thought that Phelps was living the life with 22 Olympic Medal tally (28 after this year’s Olympics). Many of us didn’t know that he almost ended his life! He had no self-esteem and self worth which almost made him end his life. But he bounced back to win another 5 Gold medals and 1 Silver medal in this Olympic Games. How awesome is that?

Honestly, who would have thought both of them would return to the sport at this age in their career? They both had something in common – the burning passion and drive for swimming, and the unfinished goals which they want to achieve in the sport. If either of them had retired earlier, we wouldn’t have experienced such an amazing feat at this Olympic Games.

For them to overcome such great obstacles just proves that nothing can stop you from achieving your goals – all you have to do is to believe in yourself. If they overcame the greatest obstacles in their lives, then we can too!

Overall, their experiences have made me believe that as long as we set our mind up towards our goal and chase them wholeheartedly, age is merely just a number. There’s really nothing that can stop us from achieving our goals, except the person in the mirror. So cut the negativity, and start believing!

13925591_10153606489807191_190237448791992291_o

I’ve got my eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and I’ve already started training for it. There’s so much more motivation now as I know that deep down, my Olympic dream is still alive.

Think about it, 4 more years of hard training is merely 5% of my entire life time (that’s if I survive up to 80, of course), so it will definitely pay off when I look back at my swimming career, knowing that I’ve made it to the biggest milestone of swimming.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the constant support through my swimming journey. Those really encouraging messages you’ve sent, knowing that I’m upset that I failed to make the Olympics this time around; that really spurred me on to continue pursuing my dreams. I may not have the time to reply all each and everyone of you, but please know that I’ve seen all of them and I’m really grateful for all your unwavering support! I sincerely hope that you too will be able to achieve what you set yourself out for one day, and if you do, let me know as well. 🙂

In 4 years time, I will only be 28 years old, which is 3 years younger than Phelps’s current age and 7 years younger than Ervin’s current age, so there is really no excuse for me to retire just yet.

For those who are aspiring athletes who didn’t make it to Rio this time around, do continue your quest for the Olympic dream and don’t give up! The dream is never over unless we stop trying.

And if you ever think of giving up, just remember why you started your sporting career in the first place.

All in all, I hope this post inspires the aspiring Olympians to not give up and continue chasing that Olympic dream with me. We’re in this together, so onward Tokyo 2020!

Hopefully when I look back at this post at year 2020, I can gladly say that I’ve made it. 🙂

 

Follow me on my social media channels:

Instagram: @swimpsj

Facebook: Pang Sheng Jun


Contact:
 swimpsj@gmail.com

 

Share this article:

This is how news should be reported

I got inspired to write this post today when my mum came across an Instagram post, which I believe was from a Hong Kong reporter, who’s currently also writing about the Rio Olympic Games on his Instagram page. Without further ado, this is his post:

 IMG_1014IMG_1015

I believe that many of you are like me, and you’re not sure what he’s saying. My mum translated the article for me and I strongly feel that this is an article we all can learn from, so here’s the translation: 

(Inspired by Ye Shi Wen to write this)

There are many respectable heroes in the battle field, especially when races are running and medals are continuously won. but do you know that there is a lot to learn besides winning and losing?

For these past few days, I’ve been following the performances of the Hong Kong team, China team, and even some of the world’s greatest swimmers. However, nothing beats the experience I had just awhile ago.  

4 years ago, Ye shi wen was a double Olympic champion in the 2012 London Olympic Games with the World Record in the 400m Individual Medley and Olympic Record in the 200m Individual Medley. But as we all know, good things don’t last. There were some complications with her which lead to a decline in her times. The former champion experienced a plateau in her performance while she saw everyone overtaking her. If you’re a swimmer yourself, I’m sure that you’ll be able to feel the pain that she’s feeling. I’m not 100% certain about this, but I’m sure that many of you would have given up if you were facing the same problem as her. But she fought on, and earn her spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

Sadly, things didn’t go her way in the 2016 Rio Olympics, she tried her best, only to finish 17 seconds off her personal best time, which placed her 27th in her 400m Individual Medley. 

Next up was her 200m Individual Medley. I was lucky to be able to grab her for an interview after her 200m Individual Medley race yesterday after she placed 4th overall after her semi final swim, and she was really friendly when I interviewed her. She said that she physically and mentally did the best preparation she could, and placing 4th going into the final really boosted her overall morale after her upset in the 400m Individual Medley swim. She mentioned that there were many strong competitors in the field. Everyone is hungry for a medal, which makes it a really competitive field, so she will just do her best. I wished her luck and we concluded the interview. 

I watched her race from the mixed zone the following day, rooting for her to win a medal. However, she had a really slow start in the Butterfly, and at that point in time, I knew the race was over. I saw the scoreboard and her time was 4 seconds slower than her semi final time, and I was pretty shocked. 

I waited for her at the media zone, hoping that she will accept another interview with me. I wasn’t very hopeful as I’ve observed Ning Zetao and Sun Yang ignoring an interview with the media after their bad races. But to my surprise, she walked up to me with calmness and composure. She told me that her goggles filled up with water when she dived into race. At that point in time I wanted to scream my lungs out as I was really sad for her. But Ye Shi Wen said that it’s her fault, and she bears full responsibility for it and completed the race anyway. 

Swimming is such a brutal sport – The many hours spent training your heart out, overcoming various obstacles just for that very moment, to only end up with a bad race. That has really left me speechless. 

It’s always nice to celebrate when you win, but can you accept failure when you lose? She was really gracious with her defeat, and I have my utmost respect for her.

Even though you are no longer the world champion, but in my heart, you are already a champion.

Forgive me for my bad writing, even though you may not understand this, but I do, and I hope you do too.

Kudos to you Dickson Yu, your article has indeed inspired me as well. I think we can all learn from Dickson’s character, and the way he writes. He must have probably huddled with all other reporters in hope to churn out a good report as well; and he certainly did. He was able to turn a negative experience into a positive article, and that to me is what differentiates a successful reporter from a mediocre one. 

Incredible. 

4x200m.jpg

I think we should all be focusing on the positives – Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen just made SINGAPORE HISTORY by making Semi Finals at the Olympic Games, and this is already huge progress for Singapore Swimming. No male swimmer has ever made it to the Semi Finals at the Olympic Games, and now we have TWO swimmers who achieved that feat, so there is already a lot to celebrate!!!

Congratulations guys! Thanks for flying our flag high at the international stage, we are all already proud of you both. 

Another point I would like to address – Athletes who are visibly upset may find it hard to consolidate their thoughts for an interview, which is why they prefer not to be interviewed immediately after an upsetting race, as they need some time to cool down before being in the right shape of mind again.

Imagine training countless hours just for that race, only to know that you’ve messed it up the most important race of your life by just a bit, and if you didn’t mess up, you would have qualified for the finals. How awful is that feeling?

Dickson also mentioned that successful swimmers like Ning Zetao and Sun Yang also rejected their interview request after their bad races, so I guess even the most successful swimmers find it hard to handle a bad race as well.

Come on, we’re all human after all, and we have emotions as well. 

It’s really commendable that Dickson understands how an athlete feels after a bad race, which is why he didn’t expect Ye Shi Wen to be so calm and composed after her race, because he was expecting her to reject his interview too. 

His focus was not to blame Ye Shi Wen if she didn’t want an interview with him after her 200m Individual Medley race, and he just wanted the best for her.

He must have followed athletes for a very long time to understand the pain and sadness an athlete may potentially feel after a bad race, which is why he was even surprised that Ye Shi Wen accepted the interview graciously. 

Gosh, mad props to you Dickson. 

11406335_10155751264665294_7253671208614135328_o.jpg

As the Olympics are not over, I’m sure that we can learn from Dickson’s positive attitude together and unite as one Team Singapore and maintain our positive spirit for the remaining days of the Olympic Games. Come on guys, it happens once every 4 years, so there’s no time to be negative about it. 

At times like these, these athletes need our support the most, so the last thing we need now is negative publicity for them.

Lets all unite as ONE TEAM SINGAPORE, and cheer on the remaining swimming race that Singapore has, which is the 100m Butterfly for Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen today at 1:16am. 

GOOD LUCK JOSEPH AND ZHENG WEN! WE ARE ALL BEHIND YOU 🙂

 

Follow me on my social media channels:

Instagram: @swimpsj

Facebook: Pang Sheng Jun


Contact:
 swimpsj@gmail.com

 

 

Share this article:

Why having live telecast of the Olympics matter to us

 

Joseph Schooling - Copy.jpg

Photo Credit: Peter Soon

August 8, 2015 – Joseph Schooling just made history by winning Singapore’s first ever podium finish at the World Swimming Championships.

I clearly remembered how happy everyone was when we saw his name appearing on the scoreboard, and to top it off, it happened a day before SG50. Each and every Singaporean felt a sense of national pride as they experienced history together as Joseph was collecting his World Championships medal, and it was definitely a heart-warming moment for all of us.

I recalled the amount of anxiety we all had before Joseph’s race. As none of us qualified for the finals, Joseph was our only hope to fly our flag high during the World Championships. When the commentator called his name, we all screamed our lungs out as though we were the ones who were swimming the race, and you could see Joseph turning over to acknowledge our cheering efforts. Trust me, we were all pretty damn nervous for him as the level of competition in the World Championships are equivalent to the Olympics, and many of the big guns were in the same 100m Butterfly race.

first 50m.png

The race started and Joseph headed into the first 50m with a leading time of 23.53 seconds. At this point in time, there was even more adrenaline pumping through our veins as we knew that history was about to be made, all he needed to do was to just hang on for another 50m, and that would give him a Gold medal. Our cheers started getting louder as the race progressed as we really wanted him to hang on. The feeling was just surreal, seeing Singapore in the lead for the first time at a world stage.

second 50m.png

At the last 25m of the race, Chad Le Clos (South Africa) and Laslo Cseh (Hungary) started inching up on him, and at that point in time, the whole stadium became so loud due to the excitement, and you couldn’t even hear yourself when you were screaming. We couldn’t even tell who was leading at the last 10m of the race as everyone was just so bunched up together at the final moments of the race. I remember just screaming and shouting my heart out to support Joseph and hope that he brings home a medal for us.

finish.png

The race was over, and when we looked up, we saw a Singapore flag lighting up on Lane 1 on the live television screen. The feeling of excitement was so indescribable, knowing that we were able to experience history live as Joseph brought back home a medal for Singapore on a world stage. There was a surge of excitement, happiness, and relief at the same time, knowing that Singapore history was made, and we were all able to experience it together. It was such a memorable moment for each and every one of us and I’m sure that people at home felt the same feeling when they managed to catch Joseph’s race live on television.

Failing to qualify for the Olympics this year, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to watch Joseph swim live at the Rio Olympic pool. However, I would love to see history being made again when I watch him swim from home. It’s different when you’re watching repeated telecast, because you already know that the outcome is going to be. I don’t want to know the results beforehand before being able to watch him swim. Because that takes away the excitement factor in sport, the feeling of uncertainty during his race, whether he’ll be able to hold on and bring home the gold medal.

I like to live in the moment, and feel the huge surge of adrenaline rush again when I watch him race his 100m Butterfly, and celebrate together with him when history is made again. I’m pretty sure that everyone feels the same way as well.

Broadcasting the Olympic Games will definitely unite all Singaporeans together through sport and promote an active lifestyle in Singapore in the long run, as people are going to remember the great moments from the Olympic Games, reminisce, and talk about it in the many years to come.

Having repeated telecast is like someone spoiling a good movie for you by telling you how the movie is going to end, and it is definitely not a pleasant feeling as your whole movie experience will be spoilt, knowing how the movie will pan out.

However, I’m sure that with the advancement of technology, there will potentially be different online streams that broadcasts the Rio Olympics live. So if we really want to, we should still be able to watch the Olympics live. If there’s a will, there will be a way. 🙂

Coming from a swimmer’s perspective, it definitely feels better racing knowing that you have your country behind you all the way during your race. Because besides achieving your own goals, you’ll be doing it for the country as well.

So let’s all unite, and get behind our athletes as they do their best in the Olympics! I’m sure that it will spur them on to greater performances.

joseph schooling pang sheng jun.jpg

“This is my home, where I grew up and where everything started. My friends and family are going to be there and I’m really excited to be racing in a home atmosphere for once.” An excerpt from Joseph Schoolings interview during the 2015 SEA Games.

All the best to you in your quest for the Olympics Joseph! The country is behind you, do us proud!

And to all the other athletes competing in Olympics, we’re all behind you! 

 

Follow me on my social media channels:

Instagram: @swimpsj

Facebook: Pang Sheng Jun


Contact:
 swimpsj@gmail.com

 

 

Share this article:

Sorry mum and dad, I didn’t make it to the Olympics

AUG Swimming Day3 Finals - 2016-07-14_Andy Chua -DSC_4436.jpg

… Aaaaaaaaand it’s official, I have failed to make it to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. I can honestly say that I am indeed disappointed having failed to qualify for the most prestigious event of swimming, but hey, the worst has already happen, so everything will just get better from here!

Swimming’s a pretty brutal sport – even if you’ve hit the qualifying time for the Rio Olympics, it doesn’t mean that you’ll get to go to the Olympics. For those that are unsure, let me explain it to you.

So according to FINA rules, they have set a maximum limit of swimmers at 900, meaning that once the 900 swimmer quota is met, the rest of the swimmers will not stand a chance to swim in the Rio Olympics. On paper, 900 swimmers may seem like a lot, but in reality, it is actually really really little, and I’ll break it down for you.

There are a total of 4 different pathways to qualify for the Olympics, prioritized in this order:

  1. Athletes who have made the A Qualification time for the Olympics and also the Top 2 in their respective countries
  2. Athletes who have qualified in the Top 16 places in relays
  3. To promote universality, countries without any qualified athletes may enter a maximum of 2 athletes – 1 male 1 female, also known as wild cards
  4. Athletes who have made the B Qualification time for the Olympics

As you can see, most of us swimmers fall into the 4. category, whereby we made the B qualification times for the Olympics. Back in 2008 they didn’t have a max limit of 900 swimmers, which means any athlete which hits the B qualification time would be part of the Olympics. But my guess is that due to swimming’s competitive nature, many swimmers in the world made the B qualification time, which is why they limit the swimmers to 900 swimmers only, which also means that qualifying for the Olympics just became waaaaaaaaaay harder.

Excuse my math, but if I were to calculate it really vaguely, power houses like USA, Japan, Australia, France, etc would have about 26 male and female athletes who have met the A qualifying times for the Olympics, so that’s about a 4-500 spots gone. Relays would add up to roughly another 50-100 spots. For universality/wild cards spots, there are 196 countries in the world, so if you were to take out the powerhouses, there would be about 150 countries left who will be aiming for universality/wild card spots, which takes up to another 300 spots with 1 male and 1 female taking each spot. After deducting swimmers who have met one of the first 3 pathways to the Olympics, swimmers who made the B qualification marks will be left with about… 50 spots.

Since there are 26 events in both male and female events, only the top B qualifier would qualify for the Olympics, which makes it really really tough. So unfortunately, all of us were not the top B qualifier based on rankings of B qualifiers.

Pretty brutal, ain’t it?

All the years of training you put into qualifying for the Olympics all seem like a waste, and all you can do is to go back to training another 4 years and hopefully being able to qualify for the next Olympics with the A Qualifying time.

Thoughts of unfairness have crossed my mind quite a bit. Like why do they have the stupid 900 limit rule? Why wasn’t I born earlier so that I would have made the 2008 Olympics?

But you know what, I came to realize that thoughts like these are irrelevant. Honestly, what’s the point of brooding over something that I can’t change the outcome on? I should just move on, and learn to control what I can control in life, which is to train harder to make the A qualifying time in the next Olympics, and that is exactly what I’m doing right now.

You know, I think the biggest relief I had was that before I left for Florida for my training camp, I had a heart to heart talk with my parents, and they said that they were already really proud of what I achieved in my swimming career, regardless of whether I make it to the Olympics or not, and that just gave me a sense of inner peace deep down in my heart.

I’ve always wanted to do my parents proud, and one of my dream was to be able to stand on the podium in a major competition and see the smile on my parent’s faces in the spectator stands when I collect my medal. I was able to do it during SEA Games last year, and best part was that it was done in home soil, which made everything even sweeter.

So for them to assure me with that, really make me change my whole perception of swimming, and that shifted my focus onto swimming because I love swimming, without having the emotional stress which I constantly placed on myself in the past.

Thanks for still believing in me though I’ve failed to make the Olympics this time around, Mum and Dad. But there’s always the next one 🙂

P.S. So for parents, know that we swimmers are really stressful even when we don’t show it, so a simple gesture of letting your kids know that you’re proud of them can go a long way 😉

My swimming career has never been a smooth sail as well, but I’m thankful because failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics is merely just a minor setback for me. It doesn’t take much to move on and keep my mind focused on the next upcoming competition. Besides, I enjoy the adrenaline rush of every competition; nothing beats the chills you get when you get a huge surge of adrenaline rush before every race. And constantly beating my personal best times just further proves that my hard work has paid off.

AUG Swimming Day3 Finals - 2016-07-14_Andy Chua -DSC_4344.jpg

So with that said, what’s next for me? Well, in all honestly, my passion for swimming has grown a lot stronger through the years, and if you’ve read my article on TODAY just last week, I ain’t going anywhere away from the pool just yet! I’m in the best shape of my life and I’ve swam personal best times untapered, so things will only get better from here.

For now, I’m just going to enjoy swimming because I’m in love with this sport, and I’m sure that things will play out well naturally.

I have great mentors, coaches and teammates who are supporting me all the way so I’m really excited towards my next phase of training, a minor setback won’t stop me from working hard. To those who still have strong faith in me after this setback, here’s a BIG THANK YOU to you. You know who you are, and I am eternally grateful. 🙂

Overall, I feel that the biggest takeaway I get from swimming is not so much about the medals that I’ve won, or the achievements that I’ve had. What’s most important is about the relationships that I’ve made and the people that I’ve inspired over the years of my swimming career by overcoming my setbacks.

Swimming has strengthen my mental state as an individual through the constant setbacks being thrown at me and how I managed to overcome each and everyone of them, and that is something you can’t learn in school.

AUG Swimming Day3 Finals - 2016-07-14_Andy Chua -DSC_4440

Medals will rust, but relationships forged in the swimming scene will last a lifetime. Also, seeing how much I’ve inspired people to pursue what they’re passionate in after reading about my swimming career experiences also made me realize that winning isn’t always everything, there are many other reasons to be happy when you’re doing what you love.

Yes, swimming is brutal indeed, a mistake you make in your race would mean costing you that qualification mark or the medal you desire. But ultimately, if you focus on the journey and love the sport as a whole, you’ll have an unforgettable journey filled with wonderful memories to be remembered after you retire.

 

Follow me on my social media channels:

Instagram: @swimpsj

Facebook: Pang Sheng Jun


Contact:
 swimpsj@gmail.com

 

Share this article: