“I’d like to fly like Superman” chuckled Derek Wong when asked what superpower he would most want to have.
The 26 year old Team Singapore shuttler has certainly been flying the Singapore flag high, and recently clinched a Silver medal at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
If you happen to meet Derek on the streets of Serangoon, where he lives, chances are you might not recognize him. The unassuming shuttler with a Clarke Kent, demeanor could easily be queuing for chicken rice behind you at a coffee shop, or helping an elderly citizen with their grocery bags as they cross the road. The ‘boy-next door’ demeanor changes the moment he steps on court and starts serving up smashes.
Catching up with Derek Wong
Q: Where is your area of residence?
A: I’m currently living in Serangoon and have been in the area for about 10 years. Besides the badminton court, it’s where I spend most of my time, and the area has always been close to my heart.
Q: What is it about your neighbourhood that we don’t know about?
A: It’s a pretty close knit neighbourhood. Our family is quite close to our neighbours as we share a common corridor and visit one another, especially during occasions like Chinese New Year and Christmas.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: I’m a big movie buff and love theatre too I also love playing sports like basketball, cycling or swimming.
Q: What childhood memory or place do you recall most fondly of?
A: I remember when I was 10 or 11, I would run from Potong Pasir to the drain near Bishan Park with my grandfather. Besides the run down, we would go down to the drain and catch tadpoles, rearing them till they grow into frogs and then releasing them back into the drain.
Q: How would you want the community to remember you by?
A: I want to be remembered as a kind person who is kind and always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need.
Q: What is the most embarrassing moment you’ve had while playing your sport?
A: I tripped on my legs and fell on my butt while trying to return a serve. It was not on live telecast but there were spectators and i felt like crawling into a hole.
Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals before a major sporting event?
A: I never used to, but now I bring a towel with me to the court. Before I start any matches, I will wipe my face with the towel to calm down and mentally prepare for the game.
Q: Who is your idol or the one person you aspire to emulate?
A: My dad is my greatest inspiration. He won a Gold medal at the 1983 SEA Games and 33 years on, I hope to be able to repeat that.
Q: What was the best advice you were ever given?
A: Being a professional athlete, it’s quite easy to focus on results, and of course buckle because of the pressure. My dad once told me to ignore the result, and just “Enjoy the game; don’t put pressure on yourself”. This has helped me focus on the game rather than outcome.
Q: What is your one food based guilty-pleasure?
A: Seafood for sure.. and chocolate – especially bitter, dark chocolate.
Q: If you had the chance to have a superpower, what would you choose?
A: I want to be able to fly! I’ve always had very vivid dreams of flying like Superman.