The Team Around The Team at Rio 2016


Team Around the Team

Clockwise from Top Left - Cheryl Teo, Sports Nutrition, Eesha Sha, Sports Psychology, Dr. Edwin Chong, Sports Physiology and June Ng, Sports Medicine. 

Get to find out a little more about some of the Singapore Sports Institute staff that are accompanying Team Singapore to Rio 2016. (Parts of these interviews and the pics were previously published by Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth.) 

Cheryl at the Sports Nutrition Lab

Cheryl in the lab assessing non-athlete food intake

Cheryl Teo - Sports Nutrition

What is your job at the SSI?

I’m a sports dietitian.

Why did you choose to go into the sports industry?

Because I like sports. And food!

What advice would you give to people if they would like to get into the sports industry?

Be passionate about what you do. Inspire yourself.  

What is the biggest change you have seen in the sports scene in Singapore in the last few years?

Greater emphasis on sports science to improve sports performance. 

What is your favourite part about your job/ working with the athletes?

Drawing inspiration from athletes from all walks of life.

What is the best word to describe team Singapore?

Inspirational

Describe your role at the Rio Games.

Most of the work is done by the Nutrition Department before the Games, i.e., teaching cooking skills, trialling ergogenic aids, guiding optimum recovery nutrition etc. I’ll be there to provide ground support from the Singapore House, where they are welcome to hang out, relax and grab a good Singaporean meal created by our chef. I’ll also be supporting team managers to help organise recovery food for the team, especially if races end late.

Besides your role, what else are you looking forward to at the Rio Games?

Watching the Games!

What does it mean to you to be a part of #OneTeamSG?How do you (and your family if applicable) keep fit/healthy?

It is an immensely fulfilling role to be part of a team supporting Team Singapore, as one big family. I make sure I eat healthily by practising what I preach! Exercise is one of my favourite ways to de-stress, and of course, hanging out with my family and loved ones.

Eesha Sha - Sports Psychology

What is your job at the SSI?

I'm an Associate Sports Psychologist at SSI. I work in an inter-disciplinary team of sports scientists and we, in collaboration with our national coaches, enable our national athletes to enhance their performance. 

Why did you chose to go into the sports industry?

Sport, with all its trials and tribulations, participation and performance, governance and organisation, moves me. It was a simple decision, really.

What advice would you give to people if they would like to get into the sports industry?

In my opinion, getting into any industry is fairly straightforward. However, remaining engaged in the industry and contributing to it requires sustained motivation and effort, which is no mean feat. Failure is a lot more commonplace in sport than success. One must relish challenge and see opportunity in every obstacle, including the systemic and seemingly insurmountable ones. On a more positive note, sport inherently promotes all dimensions of health and so we, who work in it, must be passionate about embodying its qualities to encourage better living.
  
What is the biggest change you have seen in the sports scene in Singapore in the last few years?

I think the visibility of our athletes and their endeavours has improved significantly over the last few years - not just at the elite level, but also at the school level. Also, being an athlete is increasingly considered as a career option by the youth. Considered alone, these changes may not seem big. However, I think they are indicative of a much larger change, that of the Singaporean mindset.

What is your favourite part about your job/ working with the athletes?

Witnessing individuals, not just athletes, making breakthroughs in their lives, however marginal or large, and being part of that process satisfies me immensely. 

Did you ever think you would be a part of the Olympics? And why?

Since I watched the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics on TV 8 years ago, I wanted to be part of the Games. I dreamt of it and I planned for it because I had to be a part of it, some day. The Games moved me. I had never witnessed anything elicit such a vast range of emotions before - from utter jubilation to devastating heartbreak and everything in between. To my young mind, there was magic in the Games, it was a wonderland where every minute experience transcended the ordinary because the men and women there were in pursuit of the extraordinary.  

Describe your role at the Rio Games.

I will be supporting Team Singapore as a sports psychologist at the Rio Games. As a sports psychologist at SSI, I've had the privilege of working closely with 3 Rio-bound athletes and their coaches in preparation for their Games campaigns. Besides supporting these athletes, I, and another SSI sports psychologist,will be looking after the psychological well being of the Singapore contingent. 

Besides your role, what else are you looking forward to at the Rio Games?

I'm going with an open, but prepared mind. I want to experience the human stories that make a Games so awe-inspiring, while at the same time remain grounded and be effective as I support Team Singapore in her endeavours. 

What does it mean to you to be a part of #OneTeamSG?How do you (and your family if applicable) keep fit/healthy?

I believe it is important to be physically, socially, emotionally and mentally healthy. Being part of #OneTeamSG means to put in the effort to achieve balance and wellness in all those dimensions of health. Besides enjoying a good game of floorball or tennis with my SportSG colleagues, I do aerial arts to keep fit.

What is the best word to describe team Singapore?
Growing

Gathered SSI staff as part of the advance team to Rio

Part of the advance SSI team heading to Rio, including Cheryl and Edwin.

Dr Edwin Chong, Head of Sport Physiology

What is your job at the SSI?

I am a Sport Physiologist and heading the department of Sport Physiology at SSI. Main part of my job is to understand how various processes, systems and functions of the human body are influenced by exercise and sports and how the body adapts itself to the demands of exercise and sports. Sport-specific performance and physiological testing and monitoring are conducted in the SSI Human Performance Lab and on-field, so that I can understand the athlete within – by learning the individual physiological responses to short- and long-term exercises. I then translate such knowledge to design a customised training programme for the athlete that addresses his/her weaknesses, with a goal to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. Being creative and finding new ways to create breakthroughs in our athletes’ performance is also an essential part of my job. Translational and applied research are also conducted to seek innovative ways to boost our athletes’ performance.

Why did you chose to go into the sports industry?

Sport has always been a massive part of my life ever since I started playing volleyball and representing my secondary school. What I enjoy about sport is its demanding and challenging nature, which requires dedication and hard work to be successful. As a result of my interest in sport, I wanted to study the subject in education. As I was pursing my degree in sports science, I was in awe with the forces that drive the human body and sparked my interest in sport physiology. The operation of the human body is mysterious enough under normal conditions; when subjected to the full power of a stressful condition (i.e., exercise), it can become completely incomprehensible. However, it is at such conditions, that we, sport physiologists can witness the elegant design of the human body, where the body system is incredibly fine-tuned, and every single organ, blood vessel, skin, muscles, etc, work together to create a “symphony” to cope with the exercise.

What advice would you give to people if they would like to get into the sports industry?

Learn how to listen. Powerful listening is a coaching tool, as well as an amazing skill to have as a sport scientist. As a sport scientist, you will have to be able to communicate with athletes and coaches in a way that they can understand your perspective, and also LISTEN to their views without just dictating from something you’ve read.

What is the biggest change you have seen in the sports scene in Singapore in the last few years?

Athletes, coaches and even weekend warriors are starting to understand and embrace the importance of sport science. One good example was my work with the Singapore Water Polo Men’s team. I was thrown with a problem – to improve the repeated sprint ability of the players in four months prior to the 9th Asian Swimming Championships 2012 in Dubai. After establishing their baseline fitness level, I revamped the team’s training programme and introduced new training interventions to improve the players’ repeated sprint ability. At the end of the training phase, the players underwent another performance test to re-assess their ability to perform repeated high-intensity swims. It is heartening to see that the players demonstrated a 21% improvement in their fitness! Eventually, our Singapore Water Polo Men’s team emerged fourth at the Championships, a ranking that was last achieved in 1986 and beating Uzbekistan for the first time since both teams competed in Asia. This experience is a testimony to our work and it helped the athletes and coaches witnessed firsthand the impact that sport science has on training and performance.

What is your favourite part about your job/ working with the athletes?

To go through thick and thin with our Team Singapore athletes and experience the true meaning of ‘many hearts beat as one’. Whether the athletes win or lose is not the driver for most sports scientists. The key is to make a difference and helping them achieve their dreams.

Did you ever think you would be a part of the Olympics? And why?

Yes, not just me, but the coaches, athletes, sports administrators, family and friends… the whole Singapore, is part of the Olympics, be it directly or indirectly. It takes the combined efforts of the nation to nurture an athlete into an Olympian so that he/she can play a central role in inspiring the nation in living better and healthier through sports, to give us the courage to dream big, to “look at the horizon, follow that rainbow, go ride it” (quote from Mr Lee Kuan Yew).

Describe your role at the Rio Games.

In Rio itself, our focus would be on Recovery and my role is to oversee that our TS athletes receive a fully integrated recovery plan. Having optimal recovery will help our athletes recover quicker and better after back-to-back competitions, so that they can be in their best form to compete round after round. In Rio, we will be setting up a Singapore House where we will focus on what we call the 5Rs,

Replenish - Food and drinks will be available for athletes to refuel and rehydrate themselves; Nutritionist/Dietitian will be available for consultation

Relax - a place for relaxation and unwind; Psychologists will be available for consultation

Refine – Biomechanist and Psychologist will be there to refine the athletes’ movements and mental/emotional states

Repair - Medical staff and Physiotherapists will be available to treat any illnesses and injuries

Rejuvenate - Recovery modalities, such as compression boots, electrical muscle stimulation, soft tissue treatment, hydrotherapy, cold water immersion (aka ice bath) will be set up for athletes to use. Foam roller, trigger balls and exercise mat will also be provided for athletes to do some myofascial release and light stretching

These will be made available to our athletes at the Singapore House – a set-up that we typically have for most major games for athletes to receive treatment, recover, or simply unwind.

SSI Team around the Team at the Singapore House in Rio

The Team around the Team at the Team Singapore House in Rio

Besides your role, what else are you looking forward to at the Rio Games?

Witnessing Olympics medals won by our Team Singapore athletes!

What does it mean to you to be a part of #OneTeamSG? How do you (and your family if applicable) keep fit/healthy?

It is a privilege to be part of #OneTeamSG, to walk along side with them on their journey in pursuing sporting excellence. To be able to work with our Team Singapore athletes is truly a gift and it is a dream come true. My family and I keep fit and healthy by engaging in regular physical activity throughout the week, such as playing volleyball, going to the gym and swim. Recently, I have also started using my 7-month boy as weights so that I can play with him and workout at the same time! 

What is the best word to describe team Singapore?

Limitless. I believe that if we continue to invest and nuture our talents, continue to have true desire to excel, and if we maintain our progression, energy and enthusiasm for sport, what we can accomplish is limitless.

June Ng, Sports Medicine

What is your job at the SSI?

I am the sports physiotherapist at SSI. Our role is to ensure injury prevention and speedy recovery of the athletes so that they are spending more time training injury-free and performing at their full potential. This include evaluation, prevention and treatment of acute, chronic and overuse injuries of our athletes using evidence-based techniques and rehabilitation exercises. In addition, the job also involves travelling with the teams for overseas competition. Most often we (sports physiotherapist) will be the only support staff travelling with the team. This expands our job scope to areas of managing recovery, strength and conditioning, handling various medical condition (i.e. flu, diarrhoea) or becoming the water-girl. 

Why did you chose to go into the sports industry?

I have always enjoyed participating in sports since young. I started playing competitive hockey in secondary school and It ignited my passion for sports ever since then. Throughout my training as a physiotherapist, being a musculoskeletal/sports physio was always at the back of my mind. I'd like very much to be able to contribute to this industry that I am passionate about which have been a valuable part of my life in all ways.

What advice would you give to people if they would like to get into the sports industry? 

My advice would be to participate in a diversity of internships to give you exposure to different areas of the sports industry. Get to know the right people and constantly seek opportunities to network. In my university days, I worked as a sports trainer for Sports Medicine Australia and various sporting clubs to gain experience and make some extra pocket money. It gives you an insight to the job and it creates opportunities for other roles or a potential full time job. 

What is the biggest change you have seen in the sports scene in Singapore in the last few years ? 

In the past few years, I've seen an increased in participation in sports within the community level with Singaporeans being more health conscious. The culture of the young and older generation are evolving to be increasingly active, with people engaging in various exercise classes or even just by using the different facilities built all over Singapore.

What is your favourite part about your job/ working with the athletes?

Besides the satisfaction of helping the athletes recover from their injuries and seeing them achieve their personal best/ goals, I also enjoy interacting with the athletes on a personal level. Listening to their stories & goals inspire me as a clinician and as a person.

Did you ever think you would be a part of the Olympics? And why? 

No, it has always been a dream to participate in the Olympics as an athlete but my athletic ability proved otherwise. When I got the role as a sports physiotherapist in SSI, I strive to be a part of the Olympics (support) team because now, I can help athletes achieve that life-long dream. 

Describe your role at the Rio Games.

At the Rio Games, I will be one of the sports physiotherapist supporting Team Singapore. Our role is to manage and treat the athletes’ injuries and to ensure they are performing at their best condition. We provide pre-competition preparation for the athletes (i.e. taping, warm-up/stretches) and assess and manage their injuries post-competition to ensure they are ready for their next event. 

Besides your role, what else are you looking forward to at the Rio Games?

Besides supporting Team Singapore athletes, I will be looking forward to seeing one big athletic world family at the games village. I am excited to be able to mingle with the world’s best athletes, meeting fellow physiotherapists and just being able to soak up the atmosphere of the games!

What does it mean to you to be a part of #OneTeamSG? How do you (and your family if applicable) keep fit/healthy?

Being part of #OneTeamSG means sharing a common identity and pride to build a brighter and stronger Singapore. That in spite of the challenges we may face, we make the commitment to stand together as one to overcome it. That sense of purpose and belief makes our force unbreakable.
I keep healthy by going for a run or gym. It helps me to stay fit and injury-free for my hockey games over the weekends. I also enjoy playing golf with my dad and friends as often as I can as it trains my mental and physical endurance, on top of all the technical aspects of the game. 

What is the best word to describe team Singapore?

Valiant! 

Parts of these interviews and the pics were previously published by Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth. 



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