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Road to Glasgow: Sweat and blood for glory

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Team Singapore Gymnasts Lim Heem Wei and Aizat Jufrie. Photo: VoxSports

Team Singapore Gymnasts Aizat Jufrie (L) and Lim Heem Wei. (Photo by Voxsports)

Sacrifices and overcoming obstacles to reach the summit - that’s the journey of Singapore’s gymnasts (artistic) Lim Heem Wei and Aizat Jufrie as they prepare for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow from 23 July to 2 August 2014.

Both Lim and Aizat began their love for the sport during primary school, with Lim picking it up out of curiosity while Aizat followed in his sibling’s footsteps.

“It started off as a CCA when I was a seven-year-old in primary one and I just wanted to try it out. I did not really know what gymnastics was about back then, but I am glad that I chose to continue it,” said Lim who was introduced to the sport at Singapore Chinese Girls School.

“I picked it up from my sister and brother as they were already involved in gymnastics. My parents would pick them up from training and I would sit at the stands watching them. When I was in primary two, I decided to take it up and it has since become a family affair,” explained Aizat who has been training under Singapore Gymnastics since eleven years of age.

Although the Commonwealth Games will be Aizat’s first major tournament, it will be Lim’s second appearance at the Games. With years of experience under her belt, Lim always took time out to act as a mentor to her juniors and impart valuable knowledge to them.

“I had been representing Singapore since I was 12-years-old. It was also the year I participated in the SEA Games and since then I have been representing Singapore in major games like the 2012 London Olympics and the previous Commonwealth Games.”

“It was definitely an eye opener. To even qualify is the first step as the benchmark is high across all sports in the Commonwealth Games. So when we were there the last round, we had a really great time and a wonderful experience,” added Lim, who clinched the Gold medal in the 2011 SEA Games, in the Women’s Artistic Team.

Putting his mind to perform at the highest level, Aizat revealed that he has deferred his ‘A’ level studies till 2015 to enable him to train six times a week and at times, full day at the training mats.

“Preparations are going on well and we are focusing more on our routines now. Our coaches always remind us to be watchful of our execution, skills, technique and neatness.”

“Individually, each of us has our fair share of challenges. For me, it is managing my time between my studies and training. I was supposed to sit for my ‘A’ level but I decided to defer it till next year.”

“This year my schedule is tight with both the Commonwealth Games in July and Asian Games in September. If I were to compete and prepare well for the Games, I will not be able to put in much effort into my studies,” explained the Raffles Junior College student.

Having competed in the Olympics, Lim surely knows that pressure is bound to build up in an athlete prior to major tournament. But the 25-year-old is thankful that there are those around her who ensures she remains calm and composed, and not get distracted by other elements.

“We are much focused, with everyone working towards a common goal. Rest assured that we will give our all. It is no laughing matter and we are going there to fulfil our dreams,” commented Lim who came in top 10 in the Olympics test event in the vault discipline.

“The coaches have done a wonderful job to get the team together, pushing us in training whenever needed as well as to encourage us.”

“My advice to Team Singapore’s athletes going for the Commonwealth Games is to be both physically and mentally prepared and give it your all. Opportunities like this don’t come knocking often and it could be your last. So prepare well and let there be no regrets,” added the National University of Singapore business undergraduate.

With fellow gymnasts and coaches providing advices and mapping their trainings, Aizat is eager to put on his best performance in the Commonwealth Games and bring honour to the nation.

“I hope to gain valuable experience and learn new stuff, see how the international opponents perform their routine and training so that I can improve myself. I hope to do my best and complete my routine with no mistakes. Hopefully I can get into the finals,” enthused Aizat who came in top in the 2013 Hong Kong Invitational Championships vault discipline.

Team Singapore gymnasts will depart for Glasgow on 21 July 2014. It will be the first time that Singapore is sending a men’s gymnastics team to the Commonwealth Games.

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