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For the love of sports, dive deep

I come from a family of national athletes so it is really an honour to be able to fly the Singapore flag high in any competition

As Singapore grows a year older, my wish for Singapore is to keep that fighting spirit as my fellow athletes compete later this month this at the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, says Kimberly Chan.

Ms Chan executing a dive at the 2015 SEA Games.

WHEN I stand on the edge of the diving platform, 10 metres up from the competition pool - the equivalent of a three-storey building - a complex mix of thoughts and feelings runs through me. Not just because the sport is a thrilling one. I'm also afraid of heights.

So believe me when I say it takes a lot of courage to balance and execute a dive from such a height. But as I step towards the edge of the platform, I anticipate the thrill of a jump perfected by painstaking effort, and a motivation to do my best for the country.

I certainly remember my first dive from 10 metres in 2013, when I took the literal plunge to qualify for the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Myanmar. It was Singapore's first SEA Games comeback, and it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. While the Singapore divers felt the pressure of representing Singapore, there was also the excitement of a new endeavour.

It was the year that Singapore diving won its first medal in 28 years, which proves that we do have what it takes to make this sport grow and hold its own against any sport in Singapore.

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Since the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2010, sports in Singapore has also progressed. Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, was right in declaring "that a new chapter in the history of the Olympic movement had been opened" during his opening speech at the first YOG held in Singapore.

That also marked the first time platform and springboard diving had been reintroduced to the sports scene in seven years, since Chia Shu Ying's participation in the 2003 SEA Games in Hanoi.

It's not an everyday luxury to travel and compete in the sport you love, for the country. Training six days a week, with more than 20 hours spent at the pool and dryland facilities, standing at the edge of the platform, ready to execute a dive - hopefully to a near-perfect entry, is something I strive to master. Seeing efforts pay off at competitions also helps to boost my morale, on top of the support from my teammates. Even as we watch our competitors dive, the exhilaration, anxiety and excitement still remain, because I feel that once you have experienced the training, the rigour and passion for the sport, it is something that is etched both in your mind and muscle memory.

I come from a family of national athletes so it is really special and honourable to be able to fly the Singapore flag high in any competition that we go for.

After I began my sports journey as a gymnast, my siblings followed suit. My brother Jonathan and I transited to diving in 2009 and 2010 respectively, while my sister Colette is pursuing artistic gymnastics, representing Singapore as well.

Commitment and a sense of achievement

Being in competitive sports has definitely taught us to juggle schoolwork and sports; it is a commitment that we choose to uphold, and it brings us a sense of achievement when we excel in both.

This comes as we compete against international athletes who train full time, which makes us feel proud to do nearly as much as they can in the sporting arena, given we spend so much time in school as well.

I see potential in the growth of my sport, but this comes with the support of the government, schools, and the national sports associations. The OCBC Aquatic Centre is the facility that has housed many other competitions, both regional and international, for the four disciplines in aquatic sports in Singapore.

This has helped Singapore become a world-class arena, with the opportunity for athletes to train, compete alongside and learn from these big names, and for coaches and officials to learn from the world's best. But diving has yet to become a school co-curricular activity, which is one of the more effective ways to promote this unique sport.

Having done well at the previous games, and having had the opportunity to take part in more international competitions, I hope more support and exposure will come our way. As Singapore grows a year older, my wish for Singapore is to keep that fighting spirit as my fellow athletes compete in the later half of August this year, at the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

  • The writer is a final year economics and corporate communications student at SMU. She came in 4th in the 2015 SEA Games Women's 10M Individual Platform. Fellow Singaporean Freida Lim took home the Bronze medal