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Balancing The Art Of Wushu And Academic Excellence

Student Feature: Zeanne Law Zhi Ning – EW Barker Scholar and SEA Games Participant

On top of being a debutante in the sport of Wushu during the recent SEA Games in Hanoi, student-athlete Zeanne Law Zi Ning (IBDP, Year 5) was also a proud recipient of the EW Baker Scholarship by Temasek Foundation this year. The prestigious scholarship is awarded to talented and committed students with remarkable character to continue their pursuit of sports excellence. The Maha Bodhi School alumna joined Singapore Sports School this year after completing her secondary studies at Chung Cheng High School (Main). We catch up with Zeanne on life as a student-athlete.

At what age did you start practising Wushu, and what inspired you to pursue the sport professionally?

Z: I was introduced to Wushu when I was 9 years old and decided to participate in it as my CCA in primary school. I was selected to be part of the national youth team at 13 after graduating from primary school and my coach suggested that I should practise Wushu professionally.

How often do you train?

Z: I train 6 days a week. Some days I train in between lessons as it is hard to squeeze in time to train. Different athletes prepare differently when the road to competition heats up.

How do you prepare yourself for competition?

Z: As competition dates draw closer, training intensity definitely increases. I make sure to stretch and ice my knees after each training session so I don’t overwork my body. I regulate my sleep pattern and ensure that I’m eating appropriately to support my rigorous training.

In your opinion, what are some important values to have as a sportsperson?

Z: Being responsible and resilient have been my core values. It is a student-athlete’s responsibility to plan our schedules clearly such that our training will not be affected. As a student-athlete, I should be accountable for my actions such as being punctual for training and minimising distractions so I can train wholeheartedly. Being a sportsperson is not just about winning, it is more about having resilience and courage to tackle setbacks even when the road ahead may seem uncertain.

Can you also share with us how you stay motivated when working on your sport?

Z: When I experience difficulties during training, I will tell myself to keep trying. I believe that bad days are temporary and I regard downfalls as opportunities to reflect and bounce back even higher. When I think about the people who have helped me along the way, I become more certain of achieving my goals.

Why did you join Sports School?

Z: I wanted to be in a school where I feel supported in my sporting and educational pursuits. Sports School made me feel welcomed and comfortable because they understand the struggles student-athletes face and provides us with facilities that can enhance our sporting and education experience. After 'O' levels, I was worried that it would be difficult to actively participate in my sport with the traditional curriculum of mainstream schools, so I turned to Sports School. With Sports School’s flexible curriculum, I can spend more time on Wushu while studying at a manageable pace.

Share with us some challenges you faced when balancing training and studies, and how you strike a balance between the two.

Z: Juggling training and class schedules is part of being a student-athlete and I never really had a problem with it until last year, when I had to sit for my ‘O’ Levels examination. I recall being overwhelmed with stress due to the many trials, competitions, assignments and examinations I had. I knew that I had to prioritise my studies but I also desired to compete. So, I did not wish to sacrifice either one of them. To strike a balance, I established clear schedules and allocated sufficient time for revision and practice. When necessary, I would seek help from my teachers and coaches to ensure that I am keeping up with my peers.

The student-athlete friendly environment and flexible curriculum in Sports School also eased some pressure on me. Even so, it is still important to manage my time wisely and focus on my priorities.

You were recently awarded the E W Baker Scholarship by Temasek Foundation. How has that helped you?

Z: The scholarship helped to put off the financial stress of training and studying simultaneously. It gives me the opportunity to pursue my sporting interest and achieve greater heights.

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