Life

(…this is continued from a previous post, click to start reading from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 or Part 4. It might not make that much sense unless you read from the start I guess.)

‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good man to do nothing.’

– Edmund Burke

Life has a funny way of reminding you the lessons that are important.

2 days after the decathlon, my junior from Singapore studying at Loughborough University died.

When someone close to you passes away, especially when due to unexpected circumstances, you are forced to take a deep look at your own life. You are reminded of your own mortality and how lucky you are, simply because you are still here. I was reminded once again that you really can’t take life for granted as you never know what’s going to happen next.

He was leading a perfectly healthy active life, studying as a freshman in my school. He suddenly collapsed while playing football two weeks earlier and had been in a coma since, never regaining consciousness throughout that whole period.

We were notified by his family to bid our farewells on that day, as the doctor had informed them that they were unable to keep him alive much longer. His body was not responding to the drugs and they would be turning off his life support in the event of another cardiac seizure (he already had multiple cardiac seizures during those two weeks).

There were many of us but as we could only enter the critical ward one pair at a time, we took turns to. I was one of the last two that went in to see him.

And there he was, lying on the bed without moving, hooked up to multiple machines and clinging on to the very edge of his life.

I thought about what a waste it was, for someone to be taken that young.

He never had a chance to see where his dreams would eventually take him to. He never had a chance to fall in love and to get married. He never had a chance to find out what his children would looked like and whether they would grow up to be someone good. He never had a chance to read all the well wishes and messages that were pouring in from his family and friends to support him. He never even had a chance to say goodbye.

It was then I realised that movement was an act of life. We move simply because we can. I realised that my sport had become my art, my body my greatest instrument and through my movements I expressed myself. I expressed that I was alive, that I was here, that I had a dream and that I was still dreaming. I expressed that I still believe in good, I still believed in better.

Moments later I noticed on the monitor screens that his heart rate went up to 180 bpm, and his blood pressure was around 70/50 and dropping. The nurses noticed it too and started rushing the doctors to his side. My friend and I quietly left the room, leaving his family and medical staff by his side.

Later that night, we received a call from his family to tell us that the doctors had turned off the life support and shortly following he passed away. Hearing his mom wailing at the background was one of the most heart-breaking moments of my life.

When I first reached him two weeks ago after he collapsed, I promised him I would get him home. I did everything I could, but things don’t always turn out the way you want it to and I guess that’s just part of life running it’s course. Back home in Singapore last summer, I went alone to pay my respects at the columbarium where his ashes were at. I thanked him for the memories and the lessons that he taught me. He was a military officer, so I paid my respects in the way I was taught how to. Standing there in front of his final resting place, I gave him a final salute.

Why do I still do decathlons? Because I can.

And even though I might not be able to run very fast, jump very high or throw very far, for those two short days, despite the pain, I’ve never felt more alive.

Heck, I even felt like a superhero too.

Sky

Took this picture at Woodford during the decathlon, 2010. Rest in peace my friend, thank you and goodbye.

Dreams

‘Most guys wait around for that perfect moment, hoping that something magically happens, it doesn’t. There is no perfect moment, you go in and you make it happen.’

– Anonymous

So once again, I am heading towards another crossroad in my life.

I’m just about to enter the final semester here in Loughborough University before I graduate in July. I had originally planned to pursue decathlon for these 3 years and hopefully become good enough that I could continue training full time for a bit. Once again things don’t always go according to plan and I have to decide what my next move is.

I started to take a look back and took inventory of myself, thinking about what a journey it has been.

It’s funny how every time when you look forward, it always seem like there is still that much further to go. But when you pause and look backwards, you start to realise exactly how far you have come and where you’ve been. I guess that is one of the reasons why I started writing this.

Chasing the rainbow has led me through amazing places, I’ve seen amazing things and most of all, got to meet, know and learn from the most amazing people along the way. It had led me through high peaks and low valleys, through brilliant sunshine and agonizing rain. And though there is no pot of gold, I realised the prize was actually in the journey, and that somehow I already won it.

It takes a split second to have a dream, but it takes years to truly understand and appreciate what having a dream really means.

It taught me how to live freely and to live in the moment, because that is the one and only thing in the world that you are sure of and have control in. We don’t know what’s going to happen next, and we can’t change the past. So let go of your fears and don’t worry too much about it. If you live the moment right, the future will take care of itself and the past would become a brilliant memory.

It has taught me how to free my mind and to see the world as it is, let go of prejudgement and how to keep unlearning and relearning. Seeing the world this way allows you to fall in love with it, and become aware of how awesome the world really is. This awesomeness you’ll realise, may not always be big and news worthy, but it is all the little things around you and you just have to open your eyes to see it.

It gave me a direction in life and showed me in a world of endless possibilities, a possible way to be infinitely happy. Live life passionately and express yourself because you never know when you might not have the chance for it.

I’ve met so many amazing people, that selflessly helped me along my way, and I would have really no way of thanking or mentioning them all. So please feel free to share this blog or article, because in a way that is me thanking everyone and returning the favour of those who took the time to share their stories with me.

I myself also finally understood why they did what they did. It is because no one ever truly makes it to where they are going on their own and these people knew it. One of the reason why I still run, is that I’m trying to beat out a path ahead, so that one day when someone younger and more talented than myself comes along, he has a chance to reach where I could not because I laid down a path far enough for him.

I’ve started a project last summer, along with fellow Singaporean sports and exercise science students in the UK,  to try and bring together all the existing sports science students, educators and professionals so that we can together look at how we could together apply our knowledge to improve the sports and exercise scene back home. Do contact me if you wish to be involved in this. And to Sam and Leslie: thanks for giving up time from your precious summer break to help me out with this. I know sometimes it’s hard to understand what I’m doing but hopefully it’ll all work out alright. And especially to Sam, my Loughborough junior, it’s been a rough year but I’ve seen you grow and develop yourself despite of it. Well done bro, and I look forward to continue working with you in the time to come.

I also must thank Singapore’s track and field fraternity. To all my coaches and teammates back home, from the very first time I touched a shot put when I was 13 at Dunman High till more than 10 years later today, I could have never made it without each and every one of you. To VJC, Wings Athletic Club, Hwa Chong Pole Vault crew and the NUS track team whom adopts me and allows me to train on their ground whilst I’m back in Singapore during summer, thank you all for being such a great bunch to train with. And to the legends such as Mr Kunalan and James Wong, thanks for taking the time to help and coach me.

Looking back if you asked me what would be the one advice I would give to anyone looking to pursue a dream, it would be to not wait for the perfect moment to come along before you start trying. There really is no such thing as a perfect moment because it is you that needs to go in and make that moment perfect in the way it should be. Don’t let today’s limitations stop you from seeing tomorrow’s possibility. No one’s going to help you if you don’t help yourself, so go on, start trying. After all, I read somewhere once, you don’t wait till all the traffic lights to turn green on the road you’re going before you set off moving do you?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I was just an ordinary boy, with a silly dream that one day perhaps he could become the world’s greatest athlete. I kept that dream alive, and though I have yet to realise it, look where it has brought me.

Perhaps when I get old and get reminded of these few years by my aching joints, my sore back, or that damn pinched nerve behind my right shoulder, I will smile. Because I will remember that I once trained and competed alongside some of the most physically talented men in the world. And this bunch of men, they were called decathletes.

Oh and did I mention, along the way I even got to meet the President too.

President of the Republic of Singapore, Mr S. R. Nathan

President of the Republic of Singapore, Mr S. R. Nathan. At your service Sir! (London, 2010)

Ahead

‘The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.’

-Theodore Roosevelt

I ask myself after July when I graduate, where would be the place of most potential if I wanted to continue growing and developing as a decathlete. And I came to the realisation that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

I’ve decided that I am going to continue a Master’s degree in Loughborough University so that I can continue to live and train here for another year. And so now all I have to do is to find some more funding. (But don’t worry about that, I’ve got some ideas.)

6400 points to break the Singapore record, 6500 points to qualify for the SEA games and 7500 points to go to the Olympics.

Those are nice goals to have and nice numbers attached to it. But I realised I’m not too bothered by them anymore, and that I’m just living the moment and enjoying being and developing as a decathlete.

The good news is that I already have a decathlete’s physique thanks to my height and built. I can match the others in terms of power and strength, but where I fall short is my speed, endurance and technique. I guess there’s no substitute for hard work and experience, so I’ve already got on and am working at it.

So before I end, let’s make a pact shall we? I will update this blog and twitter feed with my progress of training (photos and videos too hopefully) every week so that you can pop by once in a while to take a look. And if you find me falling off the track, a quick boot would be much appreciated from me.

You on the other hand, have to keep your dreams alive, so that one day when we meet for a chat and a cup of coffee, you will have the most amazing stories to tell me.

Thank you for reading this long entry my dear friends. I hope it has been worth your while and that you too are having great journey. If you just happen to stumble upon my blog, and I have yet the opportunity to have met you, I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that you’re also pretty awesome too.

I’ll leave you with a closing line from the first ever entry in my journal (and trust me, it is worthwhile to keep one and look back on. I’ve started writing one day out in the fields on a blank notebook whilst I was in the army),

Look forward and please, hold on to your dreams…

Ending

Photo taken by Teo Jia Hui at the Singapore High Commission in London, 2010. Proud to be standing amongst other amazing Singaporeans.

Thank you and have a nice life! =)

The end of the article.

Click to jump back to part 1, part 2, part 3 or part 4.

Update: Here’s the link to a summary post on how 2011 went. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. The Olympics, see it believe it, own it. Great Blog 🙂 ~SW

  2. AWESOME LA BRO!!! whoo!! behind u all the way

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for writing this blog. I was going through a slightly hard time in my life and saw one of my friends sharing your blog on facebook. You made me realise that i should hold on to my dream no matter how far i still am and how tough the journey will be. (:

  4. Welzl Nicolas says:

    I love this: It was then I realised that movement was an act of life. We move simply because we can. I realised that my sport had become my art, my body my greatest instrument and through my movements I expressed myself. I expressed that I was alive, that I was here, that I had a dream and that I was still dreaming. I expressed that I still believe in good, I still believed in better.

    Yes, I believe the greatest form of living comes from truly expressing ourselves. That is what art is. Expression. Art is anything that pushes our thoughts in important yet forgotten directions -Alain De Botton.

    Namaste!

    • Yong Sheng says:

      I find myself getting drawn more and more towards the arts as I walk down this path, maybe it is because I realised that we are all artist in life, and that honest self expression is a beautiful thing. =)

  5. It’s funny how I’m reading this again after so long and mainly because I’m searching for inspiration as A levels draw closer and I’m subconsciously consumed by all the work and pressure set upon me. It’s really timely and refreshing to know that life isn’t all about A levels.

    Oh yes I think I ought to tell you that I’ve decided to go on with the hammer and this post was actually the inspiration and catalyst for making that decision. Sometimes it’s good to place yourself in places of high potential and find your way out from there. It’s going to be one heck of a ride for me I hope.

    I realise I tend to re-read this post when I’m in the middle of something major in my life. Let’s see when the next one will be(:

    • Yong Sheng says:

      Hey man! Great to see your comment! Haha I have been wanting to write a blog post but haven’t get round to it due to work, will get it up soon and let you know when it’s out! Anyway once again thanks for reading my blog, catch up with you for coffee or something again when you are free!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: