ENNIS AND I
Kai Ying in Action - Kai Ying in action at the ASEAN University Games 2012. Photo courtesy of Loh Kai Ying
today. I was tasked to write about a defining moment in my table tennis career, and I was stumped. Events in the past twelve years have become a blur. Mind you, not the kind of blur that comes with age and a quickly failing brain (nah I’m just kidding). It’s the kind of blur that leaves you confused, wondering what exactly happened, yet feeling warm and fuzzy inside because you knew it was full of good memories.
A few unforgettable moments do stick out though, such as when I won a particularly difficult match against a much stronger opponent, or after prize presentations at some local competitions my friends and I would run around playing hide-and-seek. Alas, there is in fact this particular event that happened not too long ago in 2008, something that when I look back at my life in my sunset years, it would stand out clearly – to be able to get into the National Youth Team (NYT). It was highly competitive and for those who got in, it was considered a proud honour. Many doors would open for them. Besides being able to travel overseas for competitions, those good enough would be “promoted” by the upper management to join the first national team (to train alongside the likes of Feng Tianwei and Gao Ning.) The competition was intense. I was up against ten of the best players in Singapore and had two internal trials to go through. I vividly remember how much preparatory work I did in order to be in top form for the selection trials. One month before the trials, I took up private training sessions and trained daily after school, and clocked about two to four hours a day. My coach and I painstakingly analysed my opponents, their
strengths and flaws, and what I had to do to beat them. I practised routine after routine and even sparred with players from China. For that entire month, the only thing that kept me focused was my goal of entering the youth team. The trials proved difficult but I sailed through them rather smoothly, all thanks to the tremendous amount of work I had put in before that. In fact, it was an emotional roller-coaster ride, something that I would not have been able to cope if not for my coach who mercilessly prepped me. From the two trials, I emerged third and was among the four girls who entered the team. From 2008 to 2011, I had an amazing experience, travelling to countries like Thailand and Indonesia for competitions, sparring alongside the best players, and winning medals for my country. It was an experience like no other, and something that will stay with me for a very long time. Many people seem intrigued when they hear I was a former NYT player (players who reached eighteen and are not going up to the national team are asked to leave.) A few of them, with pained
expressions, would sympathise: “You dedicated so many years to the sport. Don’t you feel that it’s a waste not to be playing competitively anymore?” Well, I did feel quite lost after I left the NYT. It’s a whole lot of difference training so hard every day and stopping almost completely, aside from the occasional school trainings I had. I once had a dream to represent Singapore as a fulltime player, but now that dream is impossible. Of course, that’s a story for another day. If I was asked to sum up my entire table tennis career in a sentence, I would say “It has a bittersweet ending.” Although I did not get to realize my childhood dream, you can have many dreams in life, and I am indebted to my sport for teaching me so much, and placing in me the strength to move on. It is with this strength that I shall fulfil my other goals in life.
Published on Apr 6, 2013