Singapore Athletics had a chat with 2020 SOF-Peter Lim Scholarship recipient, Elizabeth-Ann Tan Shee Ru on her journey in athletics.
The sprinter and hurdler is a gold medallist at the 11th ASEAN Schools Games 2019 for the 100m girls hurdles event, where she clocked a new Games record and Singapore U18 girls record.
The 17-year-old is also a Team Singapore representative at the 30th South East Asian Games. Elizabeth was part of the 4x100m women line-up at the Clarke, Phillippines Games held last year.
- Name: Elizabeth-Ann Tan Shee Ru
Date of Birth: 2003
Personal Best(s): 12.25s (100m); 14.25s (100m Hurdles)
Event(s): 100m, 200m, 100m Hurdles
Coach: Raymond Tan (Father)
Education: CHIJ St.Nicholas Girls’ School (Primary), Nanyang Girls’ High School
Current school: Hwa Chong Junior College
Social media: @elizabethannxxtan
Q1) How did you get started in athletics?
I joined track and field as a CCA in Primary 2. It became part of my career in Secondary 1 when I began to participate in international competitions.
Q2) How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your life and training?
- Honestly, I enjoyed the Circuit Breaker as less time is spent commuting to school and back. I ended up having more free time to study, train, sleep or do things I never really had the time to do, like baking or practising the piano. I also spent more time with my family, especially while baking together.
In terms of training, I’m very blessed because my dad is my coach. So he can still watch me train, despite being “trapped” at home. We also had to be more innovative during the training sessions. For example, I would carry my younger brother to substitute the dumbbells or barbells I used to carry for my weights training.
Q3) What are your short and long-term goals in athletics?
- Because of COVID-19, this year is very unpredictable. As of now, I hope to be able to represent Singapore at the 12th ASEAN Schools Games 2020. In the future, I hope to win a medal for Singapore in the Asian Games.
Aside from performance goals, I hope athletics will help to mould me into an even better person, with good values like self-discipline, courage, perseverance and humility.
Q4) Who is your role model?
- Ms Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. She is an incredible athlete, mother and a huge role model to me. Despite having gone through huge physiological changes because of her pregnancy and having the responsibilities of looking after her baby, she was able to get back to running and dominated the 100m finals during the World Championships 2019.
This must have taken a tremendous amount of sacrifice, self-discipline, focus and determination. She certainly is a great inspiration for women.
Furthermore, despite her outstanding and remarkable achievements, Shelly-Ann is a very humble athlete. She wins with humility and loses with grace. That is why I admire her so much.
Q5) Share with us more about your coach, who happens to be your dad!
- My dad understands me and my needs really well and hence can design my training to suit me best. He sacrifices a lot of his time to do research on how to train me to become a better athlete.
Elizabeth with her parents
I love working with him because he is very dedicated and motivated, which inspires and pushes me to train harder.
Q6) What’s the highlight of your athletic achievement?
- At the 11th ASEAN Schools Games 2019, I won the Gold medal for the 100m Hurdles and broke 2 records – the Games record and the Singapore National U18 record (14.25s, -0.2m/s).
Elizabeth helped Team Singapore with her Gold, to a 5-medal haul
Standing on the podium, I was ecstatic and emotional when the Singapore National Anthem was being played. That was one of my proudest moments in athletics.
Q7) What are your thoughts on the mental aspect of athletics?
There is a range of mental aspects in athletics:
It is important to be goal-orientated. Without properly defined goals, I will have no focus or direction. Hence, at the beginning of every season I like to set goals together with my coach.
Motivation drives me to keep training and giving my best, even on days when I may not feel like doing so. They are what make the tough get going when the going gets tough. Without strong, deep and personal reasons, one may give up easily.
It is important to believe in one’s own abilities and preparedness. For me, this confidence is usually based on the effectiveness of the training program my coach has designed for me. Without this confidence, one may feel the battle is half lost even before the race has started.
Ability to perform under pressure
Throughout the athletics journey, inevitably there will be many types of pressure such as expectations to perform, negative comments etc. I believe that it is crucial to stay focused on your goals and tasks at hand and not be distracted by them.
When my performance is not up to mark, I choose to look at it as a learning experience rather than a failure. Without this resilience, one will lose confidence and may even give up. But with it, and together with strong and deep motivations, I can bounce back quickly and stronger. Mastery of the above is indeed an art and I am still a work in progress.
Q8) What do you do as part of your recovery and to ensure you are in optimal condition for training and competition?
- Before my race, I will ensure that my muscles are all warmed up, ready to fire. If they aren’t, I’ll spam muscle spray to wake them up! At the starting line, I’ll never fail to say a little prayer, to surrender my race to God.
After my race, I’ll always ensure that I do a proper cool down and stretch diligently. Sometimes, I’ll do ice baths to relax my muscles.
Q9) Do you have any other passion aside from Athletics?
- I really enjoy cooking and baking! During my free time, I like to try out new recipes that I learnt from watching YouTube videos.
Q10) What profession do you wish to be in when you are older?
- At this point, I’m still exploring my options.
Q11) You were recently awarded the SOF-Peter Lim Scholarship. How will this scholarship will help in your athletics journey?
- My athletics journey can be better supported by sports equipment, sports massage/physiotherapy, nutrition and even sports clinics (Link).
Q12) Can you share how your parents and Singapore Athletics have supported in your athletics journey?
- My parents have always encouraged me to pursue my passion for running. My dad coaches me while my mum helps me a lot in matters of emotional support, nutrition and administration. They also make the effort to be present at every local competition and accompany in most of my overseas competitions.
Singapore Athletics has supported me in various ways. They have given me many opportunities to compete in overseas competitions. Because of these opportunities, I’m able to open my eyes to the world of athletics. I’ve watched so many great people like Su Bing Tian, Wei Yong Li, Ryota Yamagata and Salwa Eid Naser race live. I’ve learnt so much from these eye-opening experiences and am really grateful for them.
Q13) What is the most challenging moment of your athletic career and how did you overcome it?
- My experience at the 11th ASEAN Schools Game was a bittersweet one. Although I clinched the Gold medal for the 100m hurdles race, it came with the price of an injured ankle. Competing in the 100m heats the next morning with the gnawing pain in the leg was definitely not ideal
Although I did qualify for the 100m finals, my parents and coach advised me to pull out from the finals to prevent further exacerbating my injury. I was very reluctant. I knew that I had prepared well for the Games and all my hard work for the entire 2019 was becoming nought.
However, my parents told me to look at the bigger picture. In the end, I chose to be wise and pulled out of the race. It was never easy and I learnt I had to take things in my stride and acknowledged that this unprecedented injury was for me to learn an important lesson.
Q14) Any advice to young budding athletes in their athletics pursuit?
- Train smart before you train hard. Set goals and stay focussed.