Being ahead of the curve is nothing new for Team Singapore wakeboarder and slalom waterskier Sasha Christian.
Ever since her mother fitted her with her first pair of skis when Sasha was a wee tot of three, she has proven herself to possess the aptitude and temperament necessary to shine in the competitive circuit, features that have established her as the country’s most recognizable name in the sport.
It was certainly talent that helped Sasha land her first invert when she was 11 years old, with just six months of practice when most would have taken a year.
The feat was sufficient to convince the Singapore Waterski and Wakeboard Federation to field her as the nation’s youngest representative at the 2004 Asian Wakeboarding Championships, a competition she would storm to victory at five years later. She followed that win with a wakeboarding gold medal at SEA Games 2011.
However, it was pure dedication and hard work that secured Sasha what she considered to be the proudest moment of her 11-year career on the water so far – two podium finishes at the Asian Beach Games last year.
“I finished first in waterski slalom and third in wakeboarding, so I was very happy. People said it’s third in wakeboard, not first, why are you so happy about it? But I think that people don’t understand that the level of competition is very high in Asia, in comparison to the last few years,” she shared.
“To still be standing on that podium with such respectable riders, it’s a huge achievement for me, and the fact that I won slalom in Asia, I was very happy.”
A slalom ski crown to add to her numerous achievements in wakeboarding is certainly not too shabby for someone who only began competing in waterski three years prior. Before that, Sasha was enrolled in the Singapore Sports School as the institution’s first wakeboarding student, during a time she considers as influential on her career as her family’s unwavering support.
“I was very fortunate to be in the Sports School, and I think that really pushed me in terms of wakeboarding. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know where I’ll be,” the 22-year old related.
“But of course, my mum has also been very encouraging. If I liked it, she would support me, and definitely my brother (Matthew Christian) as well because he was always a wakeboard inspiration to me. He competed at the last SEA Games with me. Every time I wakeboard with him, I just get very inspired, and I want to keep pushing myself.”
Sasha, who is also the national record holder for slalom skiing, will certainly bear a portion of the home crowd’s hopes for a medal during the upcoming 28th SEA Games. Nevertheless, she is approaching the regional meet with a sense of assurance, honed ironically from a disappointing performance at the IWWF Wakeboard World Championships some years ago.
“I was leading all the way until the finals, and I was almost placed last on the dock, which means I have a huge advantage. But for some reason, I just crashed out and ended up getting fifth. I was very upset because you train so hard for a competition and it just crumbles in front of you,” Singapore’s first Red Bull-sponsored athlete revealed.
“But I talked to someone about it, and he said you just have to forget it. I think confidence is key in any sport, especially in wakeboarding. Even though you may not actually be, you have to believe that you are the best, and that’s what actually got me out of it, remembering that you’re actually capable of doing it.”
With Red Bull’s support and funding from the Sports Excellence Scholarship, Sasha has been training full-time for more than a year now, and she has set her sights firmly on another SEA Games medal as well as a return to the podium at the Asian Wakeboarding Championships.
“Ever since I was 11, it was like a dream. I wanted to become a professional wakeboarder when I grew up, and I was just very fortunate that the opportunity came along not long ago,” Sasha stated.
“I’m really grateful for it. I think wakeboarding was given to me; it’s not my right. I hope to always do my best and keep improving.”
Alongside the rest of the Team Singapore wakeboard and water ski squad, Sasha Christian will be competing in the 28th SEA Games from 11th to 14th June 2015 at Bedok Reservoir.