Updated: Jul 28
By Spring Ashleigh Lin Yiting (22J07)
“To show weakness, we’re told, in so many words, is to deserve shame. But I am here to show weakness. And I am not ashamed.” said stellar American tennis player Mardy Fish.
For too many athletes, this quotation has struck a series of dissonant chords.
Athletes around the world today face a multitude of stresses and strains from playing their sport. They have their bad days when strenuous exertion and meeting expectations become too heavy a weight to bear. Other times, they feel under the weather or their mental health takes a hit. However, showing signs of these struggles is frowned upon due to the notion that athletes should always be strong and fit.
Take Singapore’s first Olympic champion Joseph Schooling for example. The swimmer had previously revealed that he struggled with mental health pressures of competing at high levels, because of the struggles with harsh criticism and public scrutiny.
When Schooling missed the mark to enter the semi-finals of his event at the Tokyo Olympics last year, netizens flooded comment sections with invective words – an increasingly common trend that is observed when athletes do not perform desirably or even pull out of competitions for preservation of their mental wellbeing.
It is understandable that these athletes are the best of the best, but too often, we forget that they are flawed human beings. Mishaps, shortcomings and pitfalls are inevitable in the sporting world, but when they are experienced, athletes can not help but feel inadequate.
RVians living up to expectations
Student athletes themselves are no exception to the aforementioned struggles faced by sportsmen, even in RV.
When interviewed, Kyla Athalia Surja of class 22J18 and badminton CCA revealed the stress of meeting her coach’s expectations and improving her skills as a direct school admission (DSA) student.
“I tend to compare my standards with other people,” she said. “If they are better than me, I find it very difficult to match their level”.
Be that as it may, these RV athletes still display immense strength in the face of adversity and have cultivated ways to cope with the pressure!
"Although I feel intimidated, I choose to focus on myself and give my very best on the court." Kyla shared.
Kyla in her element on the badminton court!
On a very similar note, Chernoa Chia Yang Ling of class 22J06 and floorball CCA shared that her stamina is not on par with the rest of her team’s and feels mounting pressure about her inability to keep up. She said that physical training sessions can be “quite emotionally damaging” because “I want to keep with the standard but I just can’t”.
“Despite this, my teammates encourage me and never make me feel bad about myself. I think that’s what keeps me going.” Chernoa continued.
Chernoa shows off her catching skills as a goalkeeper!
When asked whether she feels any stress about meeting individual and team expectations, floorballer Zhang Yu of class 21J13 replied with a striking “All the time”.
She attributed a large portion of this pressure to her role as captain as she believes in the need to set an example for her team. Zhang Yu added that she copes by confiding in her teammates and approaching captains of other CCAs for advice.
Zhang Yu swiftly executes a shot towards the goal!
It is evident that student athletes get beat down by the many obstacles they need to overcome. This happens even when the sports are not played professionally. It is time that we start acknowledging the enormous weight that student athletes have to carry on their shoulders, and normalising that they may not be able to cope and need to rest.
As the National School Games begin, let us extend our support to our fellow students who are preparing for their undoubtedly demanding competitions. Though physical match support can not be made possible this year due to the current COVID-19 safe management measures, you may show your support in other ways.
Words of encouragement and mindfulness of your friends’ stress go a long way in boosting their spirits and making them feel valued as an athlete representing RV.
To the many student athletes who are entering this tough season, it is completely fine to feel bogged down but do take a breather and seek the necessary help you deserve. RV stands behind you and appreciates you for your efforts.