March 22, 2016 by Soo Ee
When I received news that the annual Taekwondo affair at NTU was postponed to a week later than the original date, my heart sank. That same weekend, I was scheduled to be in Kuala Lumpur competing for a position in the Spartan Race Malaysia. It was such a bad fix to be caught in.
There was going to be a solution. The plan was simple: Go up to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, do the race on Sunday and be back for the competition closing on Sunday evening.
I dug deep inside my brain for a perfect win-win solution. I tried reaching out to others to help out at the competition. I changed the arranged bus ride to Kuala Lumpur to a flight and arranged to return to Singapore in a cab. My thoughts got crazier with each passing day. I visioned myself lugging my luggage to the race venue and then heading to the airport straight after the race. The thought of driving up to Kuala Lumpur was even an option, considering I am the person who is always lost on the roads. Camping out at the race venue, running the race and then driving back to Singapore all in one morning.
However, the strange thing was, the more I tried to convince myself that I could go ahead and do the race with the perfect solution and that the NTU kids would definitely do okay without me, the more sleepless nights I had, trying to convince myself that. Deep down inside, I know that they are not little kids and that they could take care of themselves, that they know what they needed to do and that they would do just that. And I could come back on Sunday evening just in time to celebrate their wins with them.
So what was the problem?
The ‘problem’ was that I realised, I wanted not to bask only in their wins or be the coach holding the overall champion trophy on Sunday evening. I want to be the coach they share their wins and losses with, their tears of joy and pain. I want to be with them through everything. The moment they decided to sign up for the competition, I have never let anyone of them off easy during training and demanded that they gave me every single ounce of effort they could muster. I knew my expectations were sky high. I chided when I found a lack of expected seriousness during training. I ‘punished’ when they lacked the focus I expected. I pushed them to their limits and sometimes over. I tried to rein them back in when they wanted to throw in the towel. I did my best to convince them the opposite when they doubted themselves.
More than what any gold in the world is worth.