Why we need more success stories like javelin thrower Teo Hui Juen

The report:

This Straits Times report about javelin thrower Teo Hui Juen unexpectedly qualifying for the SEA Games really made my day.

Truly, it will be a dream come true for me if more such reports on local sports and our local athletes appeared more often in the papers.

On the other hand, I really, really do not need swathes of column inches in newspaper pages devoted to Steven Gerrard’s injury, Alex Ferguson’s rant against referees, the demise of Liverpool or Chelsea, or the latest controversies in the world of Formula One.

Don’t get me wrong: there is a place for all these stories about sport in other countries, but they shouldn’t be dominating all the prime space in the sports pages of our local papers.

Besides, all I need to know about foreign sport, I can always pick up from the internet. Truly, what can the papers offer me that is new apart from columns from overseas-based writers?

But local sports coverage is something I cannot get so readily from the net, and which is something I desire greatly.

And I am sure I am not the only person who feels this way.

However, my friends in the local media tell me they don’t have a choice: they are giving the readers what they want, And according to media research companies, what the bulk of newspaper readers want to read about mainly is the EPL.

The research companies may have the statistics to back their conclusions but I still remain unconvinced.

That is why I started this website, to do my bit to increase the amount of local sports news available out there.

It is also why I take my hat off to Leslie Tan, founder and editor of Red Sports for deciding to do something about the state of local sports coverage.

He rolled up his sleeves and created the website to focus mainly on the local school sports scene. And what a success it has become in just three short years.

Red Sports gets about 500,000 page views a month – that is not only an impressive figure, it is also always growing. And more importantly, it goes to show the chasm between demand and supply, and what a growing demand it has shown itself to be.

So what is that spiel again about local newspaper readers only caring about the EPL?

As you can tell, all this has been building up in me for a long time, hence the long rant.

So back to the point of this post in the first place.

My heartiest congratulations to Hui Juen for achieving her dreams of qualifying for the SEA Games. The fact that she even bettered the qualifying mark means that she even stands a decent chance at winning a medal.

Which is good because it shows that Singapore does have – and can – produce talent in the field events. More significantly, it shows that we really do not have to cajole/entice/attract athletes from other countries to become citizens and represent us in the throws.

Yes, our talents may not be good enough for the Asian stage yet, much less the world stage. but in Hui Juen’s case, AT LEAST IT’S A BLOODY START.

So may she do well in Laos this December, and may her achievements serve to inspire other young inspiring throwers to seriously think about putting aside a few years of their lives to fulfill their potential in their events.

Well done, Hui Juen. Your guts, determination, hard work and perserverance have paid off. I am really looking forward to watching you in action on the telly come December.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

Here’s the report below:

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Going to the SEA Games

(The Straits Times, 20 Oct 2009)

Hui Juen’s hard work earns her a dream trip to Laos

By Leonard Lim

THIS time last year, Teo Hui Juen’s confidence was rock bottom.

None of the javelin thrower’s six attempts at the Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) Games recorded a distance. Instead, her spear ended up skidding along the grass each time.

It was a demoralising low for the former Raffles Junior College student, who had won the event at the 2007 Schools National Track and Field Championships.

But rather than moping or surrendering to thoughts about giving up the sport, the strong-willed Hui Juen sought help from former coach and current national record-holder Ng Bock Huat.

‘I knew I could do better than that, it just wasn’t me,’ the 20-year-old Hui Juen recalled yesterday.

Despite some initial reluctance from Ng, the second-year National University of Singapore civil engineering undergraduate eventually persuaded him to take her under his wings again.

That was in November. Last Sunday at Gombak Stadium, that move reaped far bigger dividends than she had expected.

Not only did she win the event at this year’s IVP Games with her 40.23m effort, but she also surpassed the South-east Asia Games qualifying mark of 39.74m to earn a ticket to the Dec 9-18 event in Laos.

Hui Juen could not have achieved her feat at a better time; the Singapore National Olympic Council has a week left to submit all athletes’ nominations to the organisers.

Singapore Athletic Association technical director C. Veeramani said yesterday they were in the process of sending her nomination to the SNOC.

Qualifying for her debut SEA Games caps a seven-year love affair with the javelin for Hui Juen. Actually, it started by accident. As a Secondary 1 student at Raffles Girls’, she had wanted to train as a jumper.

‘But the teacher-in-charge took one look at me, and said my long arms were more suitable for the javelin,’ said Hui Juen, who lives in a condominium in Hougang with her civil servant parents and sister Hui Minn, 15.

Medals at the Schools National Championships followed, and one of her best memories is setting a then-personal best of 37.11m at the 2006 South-east Asia Junior meet in Thailand.

Dreams of donning national colours at the biennial SEA Games followed.

Yet, it could all have been put on hold for another two years if she had not looked for Ng, her coach when she was 16, after last year’s disastrous IVP outing.

‘He told me my strength wasn’t there, and the timing of my javelin release and footwork were not co-ordinated,’ said the 1.67m, 65kg athlete. ‘I hadn’t been training much before last November after finishing my A Levels, so that was probably the reason.’

Plenty of gym work and close attention from Ng during their thrice-weekly sessions followed.

Hui Juen’s determination helped, said the 48-year-old Ng, adding: ‘There were times when she wanted to train even when she wasn’t feeling well and I had to stop her.’

Her distances started to improve, and she achieved a new personal best of 37.41m two months ago.

Then came Sunday’s achievement, which has yet to sink in.

She said: ‘The SEA Games will be my biggest meet. If I can get a new PB, I’d be more than happy.’

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2 thoughts on “Why we need more success stories like javelin thrower Teo Hui Juen

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