Dream Come True

October 1, 2014 in Featured, News by Singapore Canoe Federation

szeged

Chua Teck Yan, 17

National Junior College

Singapore Junior Team Representative

 

To be at the World Junior Championships in Hungary is a dream come true. It has always been my desire to represent Singapore at an international race, since I started paddling in Secondary School. As my maiden outing at an international kayaking competition, the World Junior Championships was a very enriching and memorable experience that allowed me to meet established paddlers from around the world.

 

Preparing for the World Junior Championships was both physically and mentally demanding as we were training 10-12 times a week, at intensities which were much greater than what I had experienced before when preparing for the National Schools competition. Although we knew that the chance of us medalling or even getting into the finals was slim due to the sheer number of strong competitors, we still wanted to be able to give our best fight at the race. Thus, my teammates and I continued to train hard with the school team and pushed ourselves even further by training together with the Senior National Team.

 

As my first time racing in a foreign country and paddling without a life vest, the entire experience in Hungary was thoroughly enjoyable. Although it was summer there, the water temperature was very cold and the wind at the race course was much stronger than in Singapore. I have watched many videos of people racing in Szeged, but being and paddling there in person was a whole new experience in itself. 

 

My event was the K1-1000m. Coach Denes was very pleased with my heat allocation, as the competitors seemed less challenging than the other heats which gave me the hope of progressing into the semi-finals. At the start line, I was ready to give my best to the only race I had and to clock the best timing possible. When I moved into the starting block, everything felt very surreal as I had never imagined myself to be right here on the same course where I had watched many great athletes compete on Youtube.

 

Immediately after the start, all the competitors pulled away except for lane 3, which was still in sight. I was hoping not to get hit by the others’ back wash and gave the best I could for the race, trying with all my might to catch the athlete in lane 3. Despite coming in last for my heats, I was extremely contented with my results. I managed to clock a personal best of 3:58min, which was much faster than the timings I had achieved back in Singapore and to my surprise, it turned out that lane 2 and 8 did not report for the race! As one of the fastest seven paddlers in my event, I could progress to the semi-finals, which was unexpected but another great racing opportunity for me.

 

I spent the next few days in Hungary watching the rest of Singapore’s Junior and Under-23 Team, as well as the competitors from other countries, race. It was an eye-opening experience and I realised that most of the athletes my age were at least a few heads taller and were almost twice my size! We also met many former World Champions and Olympic Gold Medallists there! Watching more paddlers and teams being crowned World Junior and Under-23 Champions has definitely fuelled my aspirations to do excel and my passion in canoeing further.

 

Overall, this entire experience has been wonderful for me and it would not have been possible without Coach Denes’ belief and the support of my school, teammates, family and the National Team. From preparing for the World Juniors Competition to racing in Szeged, I have learnt a lot and this is definitely an experience I would cherish for the rest of my life.