5 sporting stories that will make you want to hug your father

Changing diapers, a retirement U-turn, and the importance of chicken rice: A Father’s Day special

By Ruth Yap

As we celebrate Father’s Day this year, past and present Singapore athletes share on their journey of fatherhood, and how their own fathers have shaped them to be who they are today.

Giving up one love for another

Fatherhood has been amazing. When my son was born in 2017, I tried to be involved as much as possible by learning from the confinement nanny. From bathing him to changing his diapers in the middle of the night, I’ve embraced every moment of it.

I retired from rugby as I wanted to spend time with him. While I enjoyed playing the sport, I was also aware of the pain my parents went through whenever I got injured. I would definitely encourage him to try a sport in the future but maybe not rugby! Oops. My heart will be in more pain if I see him “break” or suffer.

Regardless of whatever he chooses, I will be there for him as his first coach, first teacher, first teammate, first supporter and hopefully a hero to him. My son is the greatest blessing to my life.” — Bryan Ng, 33, Rugby

A balancing act

“The initial few months of taking care of my newborn son were tough as everything was new. I’ve had to learn how to feed him, clothe him, and even hold him. But it taught me tolerance, resilience, and patience – especially when he cries.

Initially, I retired after the 2018 Asian Games as I wanted to focus on my family. But water polo has been such an integral part of my life. I missed the trainings and competing with my teammates. With the support of my wife, I decided to return. It’s been taxing having to juggle work, family, and training.

After becoming a father, I realised the importance of being grateful for what we have and being in the moment. There are many times when you might miss out on enjoying these moments. The most important thing is that our baby is healthy and well.” — Loh Zhi Zhi, 30, Water Polo

Old is gold

“My dad learnt how to sail at a relatively late age. My fondest memories with him came from spending time together at the East Coast Sailing Centre. I adored watching him zooming across the sea at high speed or pulling off stunts – I was always immensely proud of my old man.

Four years after learning how to windsurf, he was at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. With passion and determination, he managed to compete and win at an age past most athletes’ primes. He defied the odds.

My father also touched many lives with his affable character and charisma. During his wake in 1998, hundreds of people showed up every night to share stories and testimonies of him. He was a beacon of inspiration, a source of comfort, and a constant source of fun and joy to many. It has inspired me to make my life count the way his did.” — Kelly Junior Chan, 41, Windsurfing

The little things matter

“My dad’s passion for sports, his emphasis on life skills, and his belief that the human mind is fully tested in fencing have enthused me like no other. Before he passed away in 2016, he would say “I love you Bings and I believe in you” every single day without fail. He was there at every single momentous achievement of my journey as a young athlete.

He always tried to make things comfortable for his family and made the simplest things grand. Whenever he travelled to pick me up from school, he also brought a packet of my favourite chicken rice and gummy bears.

He taught me to faithfully believe in my abilities: I am the greatest influencer and my greatest enemy. Anything is possible if I remain single-minded about what I want to achieve.” — Amita Berthier, 19, Fencing

A family affair

“My father became my coach because he has always been the one taking care of my training. He offers me advice, reassures me when I get stressed, and listens to me when I have concerns. Most of all, he always does his best to make sure I am happy. He has been one of my biggest supporters throughout my sporting journey and I am extremely grateful for it.

In 2018, during the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) qualifiers in Subic Bay, I remember giving him a huge hug after I finished first. We both even shed a few tears of joy. He was so proud of me for having qualified for the YOG, but I was even more thankful to him for being such an amazing dad and coach. He was the reason I had even managed to get there in the first place.” — Emma Middleditch, 18, Triathlon