Special Award for Fortitude – Zhu Xiaoping (朱效萍)

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin (right), President of the Singapore National Olympic Council, paid a visit to coach Zhu Xiaoping (left) at her residence today. Zhu shared with Mr Tan how the cancer treatments have affected her hair growth and also expressed her thanks to Mr Tan for taking time out of his schedule to visit her.

17 Jun 2016

Zhu Xiaoping has been coaching the Rhythmic Gymnastics athletes, specialising in the individual and group events, since 2007. A few months before the 28th SEA Games in Singapore, her colleague who was coaching the gymnasts preparing for the group all-around event resigned abruptly, thus leaving the team without a coach.

Fuelled by her dedication, Zhu stepped up to lead both teams preparing for the individual and team events to ensure that their training was undisrupted.

Zhu, in fact, had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2013 and has been undergoing treatments with side effects which left her devoid of strength. In 2013 and 2014, she underwent three surgeries on her colon and liver, and tried her best to go to the gym on the occasions when the coaches were unavailable to ensure that the gymnasts’ training was uninterrupted.

“On some occasions, coaching the athletes would be trying for her. As she was receiving treatment, she couldn’t bear the heat at the non-air conditioned training facility with limited ventilation,” said Janssen Ong, General Manager of Singapore Gymnastics of the unbearable pain and discomfort that Zhu endured in the pursuit of the team’s goals.

Despite knowing that taking on one more major responsibility was going to take a toll on her health, she worked tirelessly in preparing her charges to ensure that they put on their best performance in front of the home crowd.

Zhu also had to play the role of a motivator when they were faced with the uncertainty of the organisers dropping the group all-around event from the Games as there were insufficient entries.

“We were confused and sad. Coach Zhu comforted us and encouraged us to focus on training and to aim beyond the SEA Games. She has a very strong will and sense of responsibility. Besides coaching us in our sport, she often teaches us lessons in life,” said Ann Sim, 21, one of the five athletes who won gold in the group all-round team event.

Her sacrifice and persistence paid off as the team eventually won a gold medal in the group all-round competition at the Games. The gold medal awarded was a first for Singapore in the group all-around event and the first medal earned by Rhythmic Gymnastics in a major event.

“My achievements are nothing compared to those of the other coaches in Singapore. My work is driven by the passion I have for gymnastics, the athletes and my love for Singapore. I am very humbled and moved by this recognition. I hope this recognition will bring more attention to the work sport coaches do and inspire them,” said Zhu who is married to Lin Zhenqin, former national coach of the men’s artistic gymnastics team. Zhu also led the Youth Olympic Games rhythmic gymnastics team to fifth place in 2010 when Singapore hosted the Games.

Zhu suffered a relapse recently and will be undergoing a new round of treatment immediately after the Sports Awards in late June.

Read more about the Special Awards here.

Read Ashley Liew’s story of sportsmanship here.