13 August 2018
By Nicolette Mok
Having overcome several setbacks, TeamSG Swimmer Roanne Ho now offers a lesson on perspective.
On an intensely competitive national squad that regularly tops the medal charts at the SEA Games, TeamSG swimmer Roanne Ho has perhaps not been the fittest of the pack, medically, over the past few years. Determined to make her mark, however, she continued to give her all, even in spite of health and injury setbacks.
Roanne defended her 50m Breaststroke title at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Andy Chua / SportSG
“If I think [my physical condition] will affect my performance, then it will. If I believe that it’s fine, then the body will believe whatever the mind does,” she declared.
Indeed, the 25-year-old has been armed with the power of perspective in her pursuit of glory. She has moulded her mindset in the right direction in order to defy the odds and achieve success.
Known in sporting circles as the “comeback queen”, Roanne’s multiple tales of defeating the odds have been well-documented. During her teenage years, she spent three years away from sport, getting a taste of what it was like to be a regular student.
However, the 2015 SEA Games, held on home ground for the first time in over two decades, proved too much of a temptation and she returned to the water, clinching the gold medal in her pet event, the 50m breaststroke.
Roanne elated to have made a comeback on home ground at the 2015 SEA Games.
Over the following two years, she underwent surgery for a collapsed lung and, subsequently, a torn shoulder, bouncing back both times – to new records and medals.
On paper, she should have been eliminated from the game a long time ago, but she refused to be deemed “irrelevant”, to be known as “that person who had to stop swimming because she couldn’t overcome an injury”. She took control of her mind and steered it away from the pool of doubt that it had been wallowing in, refocusing her energy on her sporting goals instead.
Today, the four-time SEA Games gold medallist is the reigning breaststroke queen in Singapore.
She explained: “Everyone has their own setbacks. If the biggest tragedy of my life is getting a shoulder injury and not being able to make a comeback, I’m considered very lucky! There are so many others who deal with much worse.”
“You have to direct your mind back to your purpose. It’s very easy to give up. Training is always hard and you’re always tired; you have to sacrifice so much. You have to know why you’re doing it and constantly remember that there’s a purpose bigger than yourself,” Roanne pointed out.
Looking to future generations and competitions
Having triumphed over her circumstances, she now hopes to chart a course for the younger generation, showing them that attitude and perspective, sometimes, make up all the difference when faced with a career on the verge of breaking.
She noted: “I’m not the first to get injured, and I won’t be the last. My experience can help the younger generation. I want them to know that if I can do it, they can, too. If they want to do it, they can.”
The same outlook has been working for the champion when it comes to failure, as she continued: “In a bad race, just because your competitors are in front of you doesn’t mean that they’ll finish in front of you. Even if you lose, well, I remember a coach telling me once: ‘You will always learn more from a bad race than a good one.’”
Despite her achievements, Roanne still feels nervous before races, at times daunted by international competitors who sometimes attempt to intimidate her in various ways. Once she gets on the starting blocks though, she recalls precisely what she is there for – not to be challenged, but to pose the challenge.
With the Asian Games looming, she will be concentrating on doing her best every step of the way, as she revealed: “I would like to be on the podium. But to get there, I need to stop focusing so much on that. I need to ensure that my training and health are okay. When I’m there, I want to do the heats properly to get into the finals.”
“It’s more important to focus on the variables you can control. It’s all about shifting your perspective,” she emphasised.
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