Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more. Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl up on Instagram or Facebook.
Occupation: Design & Marketing
Diet: I eat whatever I like, but I'm generally healthy, in the sense that I don't usually order fast food. Breakfast is most important to me as I always wake up hungry and I have three meals a day. I just make sure I exercise more if I'm eating more – as long as output > input.
Training: I try to exercise at least three times a week if possible! It's like having my own CCA requirement for my adult working life. If I can't make the three times, I make up for it in the next week if I can.
Q: You have a background in gymnastics. How did that start?
A: My mom put me into a play gym when I was 3 because I was tiny haha! I was once pushed over by someone who ran past me and I fell flat on my face as I was so light. Someone suggested to my mum to put me into a gym to build a bit more bulk and muscle – and the rest is history.
How did the opportunity to get into diving come about?
I got to know about diving when Singapore was hosting the first Youth Olympic Games. They wanted to bring the sport back and my age group was within the cut-off for the Games that year (in 2010). Back then they needed to form a team fast, so they were looking for gymnasts or ex-gymnasts to try out the sport as we already would have a background in somersaulting.
When did you realise you wanted to take diving to the next level and start competing?
I'm actually afraid of heights, so I stayed on the springboards and lower platforms for the longest time. All my coaches told me I was meant to do platform diving, based on my form, abilities and build. But all open platform competition events (regional and international) are from the 10m platform. I took the leap (literally) in 2013 because I wanted to compete in the SEA Games and the 10m platform was the only event with no other divers vying for the spot to represent Singapore. So that was my chance haha!
You made it to SEA Games in 2013 and 2015. How did it feel to represent Singapore?
It felt amazing, really! I had been doing gymnastics nearly my whole life at that point, but didn't get to participate in any major games. So to have found something I was even more passionate about, and to reach that level to represent Singapore, was really an achievement for me.
How did these 2 SEA Games outings go for you?
I got fourth for both SEA Games - the one in 2013 was a synchronised event so I did it with a partner and the experience was amazing. I had my best friend diving alongside me, I couldn't have asked for a better first experience.
The 2015 SEA Games was on home ground, so it was a bit more comfortable in terms of competition arena and the local support from home was tremendous. I couldn't be more happy or proud to have represented Singapore for that.
What happened during your prep to qualify for the SEA Games 2017?
I had just come back from exchange in Sweden and my whole mindset to training was entirely different. I trained and competed while on exchange and it really opened my eyes to how athletes there trained as well. I was learning a new dive for the 2017 trials and injured my back in the process, so I didn't make it for the Games. It was pretty much the peak of my diving career, but it was a good run nonetheless.
What are some of the highlights of your diving career?
I think it'd have to be representing Singapore. It's just an indescribable feeling that you'll get when you stand on the platform and be diving for your country. The adrenaline is crazy haha. My brother is a platform diver too so to have had him with me during the 2015 SEA Games was wonderful.
I competed in the Diving Grand Prix as well, so another part that is a highlight would be the places we got to travel to, as a team, to compete.
What are some of the lows of your career?
I once landed off 10m on my face, so I had bruises on my cheek, eyelids, thighs... haha but that dive I was trying to execute ended up being my pet dive, so I guess it wasn't so bad after all. Another low would be the injuries I got just before I retired, because that was the major deciding factor despite me being at a high in my diving career.
When did you know it was time to retire from the sport in 2018?
As mentioned above, I was injured so it was going to take quite a while to recover and to get back on track to the standard I was at, pre-injury. Secondly I was graduating from university and was in the process of finding a job. With all the requirements to be part of the team, it was getting harder to meet them while working and I couldn't manage to make the training hours, thus it led me to retire.
Do you miss anything about competitive sports?
It would be the adrenaline and pushing myself. I like to push boundaries and I also miss my team and coach Wan Jun. He truly believed in me and my potential and I'm super grateful to have had him train me. He's not with the team now, but he was the best coach I had! Our diving team is also really close-knit so it's like having a second family. I wouldn't trade my time that I had with them for anything else.
How does it feel being in the same sport as your siblings?
Super cool and fun haha! It's something that only we three share and can talk about, gossip about, rant about – together. We were all in gymnastics before my brother and I switched to diving. I was in the 2015 SEA Games with Jon and he was in the 2017 SEA Games with my sister Colette.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
Probably when I wasn't as good as my teammates or my competitors. Our dives are based on degree of difficulty, so of course the harder dives you do, the better (if executed well). It took me a long time to not think so much about height (I still am scared), let alone doing difficult dives. I think I only managed to fully "overcome" my fear while training on exchange – they were younger than me, were fearless, and just fully trusted in the coach and themselves that they were ready to do what they had to.
After training with them for at least four months, I came home and training was a whole different ball game. I would safely say that I could complete my day's training plan in about half the time I used to take. And I was so excited to learn new dives.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
I am, most days. I'm human, there are definitely days I don't like my body, and I feel like a blob. But that's normal I try to find areas I want to change (other than my height, that one no choice), like maybe tone my arms, or work on my abs and I change them one by one. I don't expect myself to have a 10/10 body. As long as I'm happy with it I don't need to please anyone else.
Have you ever received any comments about your body?
I have actually, both good and bad. But I don't really take offence to the bad ones, because I myself don't think it's bad, so their opinions are really just that – their opinion. With regard to positive comments, I'm flattered of course and I share any hacks I have, if I can.