Super kids in Singapore: 10-year-old speed skater Amelia Chua

October 04, 2017
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    Alicia Tan believes that how far her kids can go depends on “whether they have the passion, spirit and ability to eventually take the driver’s seat”, she says.

    She and her husband, Jonas Chua, who have their own business, constantly remind themselves not to be led by their own dreams.

    But to merely support their children as they navigate the inevitable pitfalls and distractions along the way.

    “It is their road ahead and we just want to share their journey,” she says.

    Related: Super kids in Singapore: Indoor skydiving champion Kyra Poh

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    Her daughters, Annette, 12, and Amelia, 10, are on the national development team for short track speed skating.

    Amelia’s foray into speed skating was born out of her own interest and passion, her mum explains.

    “Amelia has always had difficulty focusing on anything for long periods but, in short track, she is amazingly focused and quietly sets targets for herself.”

    Her sports prowess isn’t quite duplicated in school, however.

    The Primary 5 student at Methodist Girls’ School concedes that her grades have dropped dramatically since last year.

    “I love school but I find schoolwork tough as I don’t really understand some things,” says Amelia, who enjoys maths and science, but finds English difficult.

    It is a different story, however, when she is on the skating rink.

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    Amelia started out taking figure skating lessons.

    But became fascinated with speed skating after watching the Sochi Winter Olympics on TV.

    “I like the speed, racing off the start line, cornering and overtaking,” she says.

    “Short track is very unpredictable and super exciting.”

    Her mother was against it at first as it looked dangerous, but eventually relented.

    Last year, Amelia won gold in two races at the Tri-Series SEA Short Track Speed Skating Cup.

    Earlier this year, she won two silvers at the MapleZ SEA Short Track Speed Skating competition.

    Even when she loses, Amelia doesn’t cry, but thinks over what she should have done differently.

    Related: How to encourage children to try new sports

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  • Focus on the highs
    4 / 5 Focus on the highs

    Alicia and her husband are influenced by their own parents.

    His late father was very strict, so he is similarly the disciplinarian at home.

    She is firmer with her daughters than her parents were with her, but she takes the support-not-stifle approach as well.

    “With Amelia especially, we realise that there are just some things we cannot push,” Alicia says.

    “While there are lows in her academic performance, there are also highs and we celebrate her personal bests in school work and in short track.”

    Having taken part in national and regional competitions, Amelia wants to compete at an international level.

    “We will support her as much as we can,” Alicia says.

    Related: 4 unusual sports enrichment classes for kids in Singapore

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    She scales back on her daughter’s training before major school exams.

    But she doesn’t stop them as Amelia benefits from being on her feet rather than studying all day.

    However, she is against her daughter skipping school for any overseas competitions held during the school term.

    “She has to wait till she is in secondary school and has a better grasp of personal responsibility and discipline before we let her.”

    A version of this article first appeared in The Business Times.

    (Photos: Vic Sent Pok and Alicia Tan)

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