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Rubbing Shoulders With World’s Best Youth Skaters

Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games
2020 World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships

By Trevor Tan Xuxuan
Ice Skating, IBDP Year 6

When I heard that I would be representing Singapore in her first-ever showing at the Winter Youth Olympic Games, I was extremely excited. I received the news in December 2019 midway through a training session. The Philippines 2019 Southeast Asian Games had just concluded and it was training as usual for me in South Korea, to prepare for the 2020 ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships at the end of January.

It was a huge privilege being one of three Singaporeans at the 3rd WYOG in Lausanne from 9 to 22 January 2020. The Games exposed me to some of the world’s best youth speed skaters. Getting to know other athletes who go through a similar lifestyle as me was an eye-opener for me as they shared about their intense training regime.

In the rink, it was one more occasion to pit my skills against my age-group counterparts, and also discover more areas for improvement. I had multiple opportunities to overtake my opponents during my races, but due to lack of race experience, I didn’t recognise those windows and ended up missing them.

On top of learning different racing strategies through racing with these top youth skaters, the high level of competition was also allowed me to practice and refine my mental preparation routine so as to cope better with pre-race anxiety. These lessons which I gathered at the WYOG helped me in my campaign at the World Junior Championships in Bormio, Italy, from 31 January to 2 February.

It was heartwarming to have the support of so many Singaporeans while I competed in Lausanne; some even flew all the way to the city in Switzerland to root for us. Being able to make my SEA Games and WYOG debuts, and compete at the World Junior Championships within just two months has spurred me on in the pursuit of my Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games dream.

Being on Singapore Sports School’s Extended International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme which allows me four years to complete the standard two-year post-secondary programme, I’m able to focus on chasing my Olympic dream without worrying about my studies. With the support of the school, I took one year Leave of Absence to train full-time in South Korea in 2019. Going from two ice sessions a week, I was able to get two ice sessions daily, in addition to ground training. More technical training meant that I could develop more ice “feel” which improved my skating technique, as well as grow stronger physically and mentally. The Korea stint certainly helped me prepare for the SEA Games and other competitions in 2019, and put me in good stead for selection for the WYOG.