SEVENTEEN-year-old Aloysius Chua may be young and restless in the wrestling arena, but he isn't rebellious when it comes to school and training.
The Nanyang Junior College student who recently represented Singapore in the Laos SEA Games says, "When school ends at 5.30pm, I rush down to the Wrestling Federation of Singapore (WFS) for training at 6.30pm.
"Then, I'll study from 8.30pm till 10.30pm - sometimes till midnight. Sometimes, being a national athlete means I have to make sacrifices."
Aloysius is also the youngest amongst the team of four wrestlers - Melvynna Tambunan, Gabriel Yang and Mohamad Sulaiman - who competed against more experienced wrestlers at the SEA Games.
Although he aimed for at least a bronze, the only medal won by the Singapore team was clinched by Sulaiman, 27, in the men's 74kg weight category.
Like his senior national wrestlers Melvynna and Sulaiman, Aloysius previously trained in Judo.
"My Judo coach recommended me to try wrestling and ever since I did, I never looked back."
How long have you been involved in wrestling?
11 months since end of last year.
What is considered a "good" age to start wrestling?
I'm not too sure but I've seen kids as young as 4 or 5 years of age trying out wrestling. I do think it's better to start young as there is more experience gained. When you reach the minimum competing level, you will do better.
What is your training schedule like?
From June till now, I have been training every weekday for at least two hours each time.
Tell us a bit about your training regime.
It's usually warm-ups and drills to warm up the body first. After an hour or two, we start practising our fights which vary around 10 to 15 minutes. Lastly, we do some cool down exercises and stretches.
Are you on any diet?
No. But I try not to eat anything unhealthy. Stay away from high-cholesterol foods!
Before the SEA Games, did you participate in any overseas wrestling activities?
I went for a youth cadet junior championships in India not long ago. Because everyone there has been in wrestling since young, and I have only done it for 6 to 7months, I was quite disadvantaged. Hence, I did not fare well, but it was a good experience.
All the national wrestlers also went to Japan in late November for a training camp with the seasoned athletes there.
What would you tell students who are thinking of pursuing sports as a career but are afraid their studies will suffer?
I think education is still important. If you can't get your studies right in the first place, then will you be able to handle both studies and sports? At the end of the day, your academic qualifications still matter to secure a good job. But I believe it is possible to balance both.
What do you want to be in the future?
I might consider being a pilot in the future! Currently I do not have the time to check anything out yet, with all my training and studies.
Text by Michelle Tay of Republic Polytechnic.
This is a final-year project by Republic Polytechnic students in conjunction with AsiaOne.