2020: Painful, but thankful and grateful

Although this year has seen plenty of pain, there were also lots of gratitude and appreciation going around. How was 2020 for our sporting figures?

By Justin Kor


Tan Chuan-Jin
Photo: Tan Chuan-Jin

Emoji for 2020: 💪

This year, I’ve been thankful for everything that we cherish and love in our lives. 2020 has taught me to accept what I can’t change, and change what I can. Despite the difficult year, I’m glad we’ve still managed to personally present the Singapore Sports Awards to all who have contributed to sports here. It also was a pleasure to see our athletes again in person to recognise and remember how inspiring their performances can be.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to see large-scale sporting action resume next year, with the Olympics and Southeast Asian Games at the top of my list – fingers crossed!


Joseph Schooling
Photo: Joseph Schooling

Emoji for 2020: 💪

This year, more than ever, we had to maintain a positive mindset, keep striving hard to make the right decisions, and keep fighting for what is important to us. 2020 has been a mixed bag of emotions, but I think you can find positives out of every negative. I’m glad to have had the additional year to prepare for the Olympics by getting physically and mentally stronger.

I returned to the USA for training in November, leaving with the knowledge that I may not see my family and friends until after the Olympics next year due to the travel restrictions. But I know that they have my back and are rooting for me to achieve the best. I hope we can all take what we have learnt from 2020 to better ourselves. May 2021 be a better year for every one!


Jen Goh
Photo: Singapore Golf Association

Emoji for 2020: 😅

One quiet morning this year, I spent some time watching the sun rise and it was a moment I’ll treasure for life. I remember thinking how lucky I was to be where I am and to do what I do, amidst all the suffering for so many around the world this year.

It’s been a really trying year for most athletes – tournaments and plans were cancelled and we were stuck at home for months. I lacked purpose and drive, not really knowing what I was training for.

But it also gave me the opportunity to start Hopefull and meet so many other amazing people. Giving my time and effort to various causes gave this year so much meaning, and I’m thankful for the opportunities to give back to communities, further my interests and make new friends.


Amita Berthier
Photo: Amita Berthier

Emoji for 2020:

2020 has been mind boggling and absolutely challenging. When you’re so used to the adrenaline rush and the intensity of competitions, having these stripped away leaves you feeling like a rudderless ship!

But as an athlete, you try to listen to that inner voice that says: “Keep going! You have not reached the finish line – it’s now time to recharge and reboot your system.” You learn to rise again, and find the spirit to never let the grind stop. Life will throw you endless curve balls, but you have to be open minded, nimble and make the most out of whatever resources you are given.

I can’t wait to “smell” the competition halls in the international arena once again and work on qualifications for the Olympics. It’s time to get back on the pistes come 2021!


Ikhsan Fandi
Photo: Ikhsan Fandi

Emoji for 2020: 🎢

This year has been mentally and physically tough. I’ve been watching many videos on self-development and also tried improving my mental health. We’ve had to go into quarantine many times, which stopped us from getting back into full fitness and also dragged the season out. It was very tiring having to play matches within three days of each other. But I’ll never forget scoring a 90th minute winner to help Jerv avoid relegation in our last match.

On the back of such a difficult year, I’m looking forward to pretty much everything in 2021. There’s always something special every year!


Feng Tianwei
Photo: Feng Tianwei

Emoji for 2020: 💪

I’ve been extremely touched by generous support that Singapore has given to all of us, especially when I had to compete and train during this difficult year. It has inspired me to spread this positivity on to others, so that they too have the strength to meet this pandemic and life head on.

Having not competed for over eight months, I was very disappointed with my results at the ITTF Women’s World Cup. But as athletes, the most important thing is to find ways to overcome any difficulties. I will always look for ways to improve for the next match. It will be a gradual process and this has offered me a good learning opportunity. Hopefully, everyone’s lives will return to normal next year with the upcoming vaccinations, and we can have the Olympic Games!


Shanti Pereira
Photo: Shanti Pereira

Emoji for 2020: 🤷‍♀️

The toughest time of 2020 came when circuit breaker kicked in and my motivation fell to zero. It was really difficult to bring myself to train given the limited places we could do so at.

But this year also taught me to be patient, present, and thankful for what I’ve been given in this ‘pandemic world’ that we live in now. When Phase Two started, I was really happy to be back training even though there weren’t many competitions to look forward to. I’m also thankful for the sense of ‘stillness’ to focus on my studies and work on my sport.

If everything goes smoothly, I hope to get a gold at next year’s SEA Games and qualify for the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China!