By Yu Ying
I am an ordinary mother who was fortunate enough to be given a chance to watch a team of young athletes train albeit at a time when most of us should be in deep slumber. When I arrived at the gym at 6am, the 10 girls, youngest being 15 years, were already at the bar warming up in front of the mirror. As the music reverberated through the empty gymnasium the girls stretched, bowed and pirouetted for half an hour.
Even though their eyes were still slightly swollen from sleep, they followed instructions and moved to the beat without a whimper. Suddenly it occurred to me how disciplined and matured their approach was towards their training. Then they took to the mat to dance to The Chainsmokers Don’t Let Me Down.
“Come on girls,” the ballet teacher persuaded, “you don’t want the world to see these imperfect steps. Come on, come on don’t let me down!” The girls laughed got on their feet and put up a more coordinated performance with the poise and energy expected of them. Two hours passed and the girls had to rush off to class before diving into the pool at 2pm for another 4 hours of training.
After lunch and a short rest, the girls were in the swimming pool for more training on synchronized technique. Still just as energetic wading through and under water, the girls executed each technique repeatedly with short breaks in between. And they do this 6 days a week!
In the morning, when class was over, I had a chance to chat with the ballet teacher and I asked him how he managed to get their cooperation to go through the training happily. He said:” These youngsters, they all have the passion for the sport but sometimes we need to be realistic to know their limitations and weakness before we can push them harder to another level.” What he meant was we need to help them strengthen their weak points so that they will have a better chance of success in achieving a desired level. Otherwise the athlete will always fill frustrated and would give up.
From the corner of my eye, I could see on the far side of the pool, two kids, probably aged 8-10 years jumped off the dive board, got out the pool, up the steps and into the water again and again trying to perfect their posture. That coach must have his own way with the kids too.
What a long day for these kids and so much talent to harness and nurture. It made me realize that it takes more than parents, ordinary or otherwise, to bring out the best in our young.