“No matter how tired I am, it feels warm and comfortable when I’m home with my family members around. Sometimes I really wish I’ve the power to be omni-present, just so that I can be there for my family while training at the same time. But the life of an athlete requires sacrifices.”
Family-oriented Cheng Zhi Ming affirms his family members to be his source of motivation, pillar of strength and the primary reason for him to press on in all circumstances, be it wins or losses, victories or hurdles.
The full-time pétanque player shares with us his hopes of achieving glory for his nation and for his sport.
Getting to know our national pétanque player
Q: Where do you live?
A: Bukit Panjang for all 21 years of my life.
Q: What is the one thing you like most about your neighbourhood?
A: The one thing I like most about Bukit Panjang is that I first tried out pétanque in this neighbourhood. I continued with this sport in my primary school as a CCA, which is also in my neighbourhood. The memories are vivid for me as this is the place where I’ve grown, both as a person and as an athlete.
Q: Where do you draw your strength from?
A: My strength comes from my family members. I feel really warm and happy with them around. They often tell me to just try my best. Wins or losses don’t matter at all. I’m heartened by their continuous support.
Q: What drove you to your current sport?
A: My brother and I were in the same group of friends. My brother’s teacher took all of us out to try Pétanque. I remember we went to a Community Centre. The teacher himself is a player and was passionate to get youths to try it out.
Q: What’s that one moment that inspired you the most to be a sportsperson?
A: I felt the pressure and competition stress when I first completed my first international competition. It was tough but I really enjoyed it as it made me become a better person in terms of endurance and determination.
Q: What is the most interesting memory you have when playing your sport?
A: I won the Asian Championships when I was 16. I didn’t think I was capable of achieving something so big. I just did whatever I needed to do and was told to do but with determination, I won the competition. I felt very satisfied, like I achieved the impossible. I thought I would just try my best and really didn’t expect myself to win. I was over the moon as it was a big win for a pétanque player in Singapore, on top of the fact that I was one of the youngest as compared to my competitors.
Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals before a major sporting event?
A: I would go to sleep the night before visualizing how the competition venue will look like and how I’d be feeling. I’ll rehearse the shots in my head and visualize myself being in that position the next day.
Q: If you weren’t a pétanque player, what other sports would you have taken up?
A: Billard or snooker. It’s very similar to pétanque. You need the skills to make sure your shots are precise. You have to be tactical which is what is expected of a pétanque player.
Q: What was the best advice you were ever given?
A: The best advice I ever got was from my coach – “just one ball.” He always tells me that each shot is independent of each other and that even if you do badly for this shot, you can perform well for the next shot if you concentrate and give your best.
Q: Who is your idol that you aspire to be?
A: Anthony Peter Ho. He is the President of my NSA and he is also my coach. I dream of being a scholar but I didn't have the perfect grades. When I see people around me coping well with their studies and sports, I really admire them. But I admire Anthony even more for his versatility in both his sports and studies as he was a receiver of a PSC Scholarship and went from being a National pétanque player to becoming the youngest president of an NSA during his time.
Q: What is your one food based guilty-pleasure?
Q: Which country did you travel to that left a mark on you?
A: Turkey. I really love the landscape. It’s really pretty and scenic. And I love the food as well, especially the Turkish kebab and ice-cream.
Q: If you had the chance to have a superpower, which would you choose?
A: To be omni-present. I find that if you are athlete, you have to sacrifice your family life. I wish I can be there for my family and yet be training at the same time. But being an athlete requires sacrifices.
Q: How would you want the community to remember you by?
A: I really hope to be the athlete who is really passionate about a little well-known sport in Singapore. I’m trying really hard to achieve glory for my nation and for my sport.