Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Cherry Fruit?

 Hanapiah encouraged me to return to 
hurdling after 9 years hiatus from sports

"Ta-Dadada, Ta-Dadada, Ta-Dadada," my track & field coach, Mohamad Hanapiah Nasir, then the top regional decathlete and now an International Association of Athletics Federations lecturer, boomed across the track as I rhythmically sprinted through the hurdles.

After nine years hiatus from sports, I returned to athletics in 2004. In the early stages of my return to hurdling, I trained at the Maybank Training Centre at Bangi, Selangor. During the months that I was back in Singapore, I would make overseas call to my coach (S$500 phone bill each month) and explain to him how I feel during the training session-floating lead leg, heel-landing, off-rhythm-so that he could prescribe the appropriate drills, plyometrics and give proper technical advise to help me improve. 

Such self-coaching, I had to heighten my awareness of every bit of my body movement to achieve the best hurdling technique, even if it requires finding alternative training methods to enhance my progress, from visualisation, recovery to focussing on what I was good at (as opposed to strengthening my weakness). Many times, my mom was my second pair of eyes to help spot mistakes, which she became pretty good at. :D

My mom all decked out for athletics action at the Serangoon Stadium

As a child athlete, we tend to rely alot on our coaches. As a four-year-old happy-go-lucky young gymnast, I listened to my coaches through a 'top-down' approach-listen and do. As the years past, my strength improved, so did my proprioception (internal sense) and kinesthetic (external sense) awareness. Maturity came earlier than expected, and I knew how and what I wanted to achieve. I was in control of my mind, body and soul-in 2005, Singapore's 30-year 100m hurdles record was broken at the 16th Asian Athletics Championships in South Korea.

Chasing after my goal, the National Record

To fulfil our dreams, we know we are bound to face obstacles and challenges. But we also know, even in our daily lives, we can find alternative ways to manage situations, seal project deals and communicate with an opposing voice to find a common ground. 

Same applies to teaching. All students are different in their preference for music, level of motivation and responses to lessons. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to all students. We need to discover what makes the student tick and stay engaged-some respond better through imagination and tactility, while others do better to visuals and audio stimuli. We continue to discover, and realise the full potential of the student.

Cherry fruit in my cycling messenger bag

One of my students has just returned from a conference in China. She brought back and shared with me the inherent goodness of a pack of cherries-miniature wonders, they have been credited with an array of health advantages, from fighting off cancers and gout arthritis pain, to the regulation of heart rate and blood pressure. Old wive's tale? Sometimes, old wives do know best-cherries are certainly better alternatives than fast food.

Alternatif (sic) ways, they exist for us to find and create goodness in every challenges we face.


  1. 在您的体育运动生涯中,为人母者我以为自己只是个保姆、司机,原来您刷新您还没出世时百米跨栏记录,我还能临门一脚!现在回想起来、真是不可思议!事实是靠您自己的毅力、坚持不懈、努力的成果!未来您要走的路还很长,继续加把劲往前冲!加油吧!您一定做得到的!

  2. Mom, you are the best! Your selfless sacrifices for me to stretch my potential will be remembered forever. Thank you.