Twin towers of strength

Gladys' edge of glory

By Mabel Lee

Gladys Low, Wushu Champion
School of Biological Sciences

This kungfu princess has a firm stance.

"I love wushu," declares Gladys Low, a first-year Biological Sciences student. "It's an all-around form of exercise that offers many health benefits."

Whether she's slicing thin air with a double-edged sword, or attending a lecture on the functions of human cells, Gladys never forgets one thing.

"Health – it's very important," she says. "In my classes in NTU, I learn about how the body works, and this knowledge inspires me to improve my fitness."

She stresses: "Wushu is a great way to do this. It trains your physical strength, agility, flexibility, hand-eye coordination and stamina all at once."

Having cut her teeth on wushu at the tender age of nine, Gladys has carved a name for herself in both the local and international martial arts scenes, having won multiple competitions including two bronze medals at the Asian Junior Wushu Championships in 2009 and 2011.

"My wushu spirit comes from my dad, who did a lot of sparring during his heyday," she reveals. "He's now in his fifties, but is still in great shape!"

In 2010, the 19-year-old clinched two silver medals at the World Junior Wushu Championships, a prestigious event organised by the International Wushu Federation. While she's proud of her achievements, Gladys explains it's the lasting health benefits of the sport that she values the most.

Says the feisty lass, who sometimes spends up to six days a week training for competitions: "I love how mentally rejuvenated I feel after every training session. Practising wushu has also made me more alert, which helps me to better concentrate on my studies."

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The skilled martial arts practitioner also represented NTU at this year's Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic Games, where she clinched two gold medals for NTU for her "tai chi sword" and barehanded "eagle claw fist" routines.

"The 'eagle claw fist' is a special routine where you mimic an eagle's habits, such as stretching a wing or preying on foods," shares Gladys. "The movements are very quick and the techniques can be quite ruthless!"

The former Victoria Junior College student, who was appointed a vice-captain in NTU's Wushu Club when she joined the university, now hopes to spread the wushu spirit to her team.

"I want to impress upon my peers that wushu is both a traditional art and competitive sport with physical and mental benefits," Gladys says. "It toughens your mind and strengthens your body and overall health – in fact, I haven't fallen sick in a while."

What else is next for this nimble queen?

"I was invited to compete in this year's Southeast Asian Games, but may pass it up to give more time to my studies and pick up other sports like judo and cheerleading," she reveals.

"My heart is with the blade, but I also love biology – I hope to teach it full-time one day!"