If you follow Singapore’s sporting news, Michelle Sng should not be an unfamiliar name to you.
In the 2017 SEA Games, Sng clinched Singapore’s first-ever gold medal in the women’s high jump category. To put it in perspective, the last time we won a gold medal for high jump was in the men’s category through Noor Azhar Hamid at the 1973 South East Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games.
This month, we’re teaming up with Sng and Huawei during the circuit breaker — besides letting us in on an easy workout routine at home (no equipment needed!), we sat down with Sng to have a chat about what it means to be an athlete and how technology has changed the way she trains.
LSA: Tell us how you ended up as a national athlete. Did you always envision yourself to be sportswoman?
MS: When I competed at my first high jump meet ever at my school’s sports day, I had no clue that I would one day represent the nation in athletics, but I knew that plan going into each competition was to win it.
After winning 2 years of National Schools Games, a new PE teacher felt it was best for me to train with a coach so she went out of her way to link me up with a junior college who had a high jump coach. With a more structured training under my coach, I managed to rise through the ranks to be the top jumper in Singapore and hence received the opportunity to represent the country.
What motivates you the most about your being an athlete?
Motivation is fluid — it can be from something very tangible such as a medal to win at a particular meet, to something very simple like being able to spend time with my friends at training.
I think the days where I lack motivation but end up pushing myself to train are the ones worth remembering.
When most people think of the concept of motivation for an athlete, they hear the dramatic background music and inspirational quotes; they see a phoenix rising from the ashes. But that is far from the truth. There is no fanfare, no audience, no fire, and you no longer know why you are doing what you are doing.
All you know is that you have to keep moving forward and upwards. Those are the days I remember. Perhaps those are the days I use as motivation.
Being a sportswoman means you have to constantly exceed expectations and push yourself to do better — is there a particular habit or mindset that you have to ensure you’re constantly improving?
There are always going to be ups and downs, and improvement is not a straight line graph. Understanding this concept is extremely important to long term success as improvements and success may not come right away or when you want it to.
However, if you give up before that happens, then you will never be able to reach your goals. For myself, it is still a work in progress as I have to constantly remind myself to stay patient and not get frustrated when I do not see the desired result right away.
You’ve been an athlete for almost 20 years, what are some of the differences between training now and then?
I think technology in sports has changed the way people train. With better cameras and software, we are now able to capture, measure, and analyse movements to refine movements, techniques, and strategies. Every little bit counts, and you definitely want that extra bit when you are at the finishing line.
How do you think technology helps in your daily training?
For my own daily training, I use the camera function on my phones to do video recording and slow-motion or frame-by-frame breakdowns. This is especially convenient for me as high jump is a very technical event and rewatching my jumps and exercises allows me to do corrections on the spot immediately.
I have also had to train remotely from my coach and being able to keep my coach updated on my progress and receive feedback has been extremely useful.
After having a go with the Huawei P40, which is the feature you enjoy using the most?
Hands down it has got to be the camera. The pictures and videos taken are very sharp and I love that it has a super-fast autofocus sensor which allows me to take action shots. The portrait shots taken are also extremely flattering as a result of the AI technology used to enhance features. You can’t say no to a pretty portrait!