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Water fine win

Among this year’s SEA Games gold medallists is 23-year-old SEA Games debutant Chow Jing Lun, a second-year materials science and engineering student. He tells Tan Yo-Hinn how he helped Singapore clinch its 27th successive gold medal in water polo

Chow Jing Lun looking to pass the ball to a teammate PHOTO: ADRIAN SEETHO/SPORTS SINGAPORE

Congratulations on winning gold! Bet there must have been a lot of pressure to keep the run going.

The key is to not think about winning. I treated each match in the competition no differently than any other training session or competitive game.

The feeling must have been worth all the hard work!

The gold medal was a redemption for me as I wasn't selected to represent Singapore at the 2015 SEA Games, when we were the host nation.

How did you prepare for your first SEA Games?

We trained nine times a week. I knew I had to keep myself free from injuries, which was what I was most concerned about. Picking an injury can be very disruptive to the training rhythm and overall preparations.

You and your team-mate, Yip Yang, trained for three months earlier this year in Serbia with VK Radnicki Kragujevac, one of their top club sides. What was it like?

It was a chance I couldn’t miss. I knew it would be tough to do it in the future with my growing school and work commitments. I was struck by the sporting culture in Serbia. The young athletes took every training session very seriously and treated it as if it were their job. Yet, at the same time, they also truly enjoyed what they did.

Chow Jing Lun and Yip Yang posing with their medals NTU’s Chow Jing Lun (right) and team-mate Yip Yang spent three months training in Serbia earlier this year. It helped them propel Singapore to a record-extending 27th successive gold medal in the sport at the SEA Games.
PHOTO: Chow Jing Lun

So you skipped school to fulfil this dream.

Yes. The stint was my own effort to improve my water polo standards, and I also paid for it myself. Fortunately, NTU supported my application for leave of absence in my first semester, and made the process of taking time off to train and compete in Serbia very smooth.

Judging from your overall performance at the SEA Games, the time in Serbia definitely helped!

The stay in Serbia highlighted to me the importance of being committed to your sport. After seeing the 14- to 16-year-olds there train six times a week while attending school, I decided to adopt a motto of “make no excuses” in my personal life. This commitment helped me streamline my focus towards my preparations for the SEA Games. For example, I made it a point to attend every training session when I returned, which made me fitter than the rest of the team!

In spite of all the support available to national athletes today, most people think it’s difficult to effectively juggle sports and studies. What do you say to that?

Yes, it can be difficult but, ultimately, if you want something enough, you’ll do what it takes. I truly enjoy the sport of water polo and seeing my hard work translate to results. That’s the best proof that all the diligence, perseverance and sacrifice is worth it.

What advice would you give to athletes looking to balance sports and their studies?

Be disciplined, stay passionate and keep pushing forward when the going gets tough.

  • Chow Jing Lun defending the ball against an opponent
    NTU’s Chow Jing Lun in action for Singapore against the Philippines at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
    Photos: Adrian Seetho/Sports Singapore
  • Chow Jing Lun throwing the ball
    NTU’s Chow Jing Lun in action for Singapore against the Philippines at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
    Photos: Adrian Seetho/Sports Singapore
  • Chow Jing Lun looking to pass the ball to a teammate
    NTU’s Chow Jing Lun in action for Singapore against the Philippines at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
    Photos: Adrian Seetho/Sports Singapore