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Wushu Student-Athletes Win 4 Gold At NSG

2021 National School Games: Wushu

The hovering pandemic has affected the way work, school and even sport competitions are conducted. To ensure the safety of young school athletes, competitors in the 2021 National School Wushu Championships performed their routines, not in front of live judges and audience, but in front of a video camera.

From 12 to 20 April 2021, wushu exponents from the A and B divisions put on a show of strength, control, speed and grace which was captured on camera. The footages were subsequently reviewed by a panel of judges who scored the performances upon watching the recordings.

Almost a month after their performance, Singapore Sports School student-athletes received positive news from the organisers. Altogether, they won 4 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze medals.

Zoe Tan Ziyi, a Year 5 student-athlete from the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, was Sports School’s top performer with 2 gold medals in the A Division Girls Broadsword and Changquan events.

After the NSG was cancelled last year, the annual inter-school competition resumed for 12 sports this year. Upon hearing that the wushu was given the green light to take place, the former Nanyang Girls’ High School student was “elated and grateful” as she saw a glimmer of hope in the recovery of the sport scene. So motivated was she by the opportunity to compete that she felt “as though I had pulled through the most difficult part of my athlete life.” During the circuit breaker in 2020, Zoe came up with a training plan for herself – which took place alone at a sheltered carpark – after discussing with national coaches areas she should work on.

The 2021 NSG was her second time performing over video since the pandemic. Her first virtual competition experience was at the 2020 International Virtual Wushu Championship organised by the Indonesian Wushu Grand Board in October 2020. Then, the competition was livestreamed on YouTube, and judging and scoring was done in real-time.

Zoe, a 2019 Asian Junior Wushu Championships double gold medallist, shared that the lack of atmosphere and audience cheering made the competition setting even more challenging: “I had to imagine the panel of judges in my head to get the competition feel, and push myself to do my best. I imagined the hall filled with many of my friends, family, team mates and supporters, cheering loudly for me.”

Another challenge for her was not being able to compete internationally for a whole year. “To us athletes, competition is like a checkpoint which allows us to gauge where we stand, how to improve and understand what we can do to better ourselves.”

“I am fortunate to have my coaches supporting me throughout. Singapore Sports School also allowed me to step up my training to prepare for the NSG and I was able to train on the School’s carpet during my free time. With the School’s support and coaches willing to spend more time on fine-tuning my routine, I managed to gain more confidence and overcome the worries in my mind.”

Another student-athlete who overcame challenges and exceeded expectations at the inter-school competition was Secondary 4 student-athlete Jolie Goh who bounced back from a severe ankle injury to win the B Division Girls Taijiquan gold and Taijijian bronze medals with less than two weeks of preparation before the NSG.

A poor landing resulted during a national training session in December 2020 resulted in a fractured growth plate and three torn ligaments in her ankle, ruling out all possibility of training for at least three months. Needless to say, the young wushu exponent doubted if she could return to competitive sport.

“I felt very disappointed and scared that I would not be able to continue the sport as it was my first major injury. I was unsure whether I would be able to return to training or even walk again,” said Jolie.

The fighter in her saw her returning to training in three months and, a month later, rejoined the national team sessions.

“To quicken the recovery process, I tried to stay positive and went regularly for physiotherapy and rehab sessions. Furthermore, the people around me such as my family, friends and coaches were very encouraging and constantly assured me that I would be able to pull through the injury. Since I was out of training for a long time, I would spend my time in the gym working on gaining my strength back after school. The recovery phase also provided me with opportunity for self-reflection which helped me come back stronger.”

Less than two weeks after resuming training with the national team, Jolie stood on the mat, ready to perform for the NSG. With the little training that she had, Jolie was pleasantly surprised when she learnt about a month later that she had won two medals, which included a gold, at the inter-school competition.

“I’m really grateful to those around me who constantly encouraged me to stay positive and focused even when recovery was tough. I also want to encourage those who are facing injuries or setbacks like I did to continue to focus on their goals, and make use of the support like physiotherapy that Singapore Sports School and National Youth Sports Institute provides us.”

The fourth gold was contributed by Kimberly Ong Li Ling (IBDP Year 6) in the A Division Girls Cudgel. She also won a silver medal in the Broadsword event. Her sister Kassandra Ong Xue Ling (Secondary 3) won two bronze medals in the B Division Girls Broadsword and Changquan events.

“With all the uncertainties brought about by the Covid restrictions, we did not have much time to prepare for competition. However, I think my teammates and I performed to the best of our abilities and I'm proud that we were able to help Singapore Sports School win an overall 4th placing in the Girls A Division,” said Zoe.

A Division
Girls Broadsword
1st – Zoe Tan Ziyi
2nd – Kimberly Ong Li Ling

Girls Changquan
1st – Zoe Tan Ziyi

Girls Cudgel
1st – Kimberly Ong Li Ling

B Division
Girls Broadsword
3rd – Kassandra Ong Xue Ling

Girls Changquan
3rd – Kassandra Ong Xue Ling

Girls Taijijian
3rd – Jolie Goh

Girls Taijiquan
1st – Jolie Goh

Boys Sword
7th – Cayden Seow Yu Bin

Boys Spear
13th – Cayden Seow Yu Bin