Name: Ng Yu Jun Eliza
Date of Birth: 3 February 1989 (26yrs)
2:23.66 (Women 800m, 2015 S’pore Open)
4:56.79 (Women 1500m, 2015 S’pore Open)
12:23.78 (Women 3000mSC, 2015 Taiwan Open)
Career Highlight(s): The highlight of my running career was representing Singapore at the recently concluded 77th Singapore Open held at the Singapore Sports Hub. Running in the new sports hub provided such an electrifying atmosphere and I managed to clock in two personal best timings in the 800m (2:23.66) and 1500m (4:56.79) events. I had managed to shave a massive 32 seconds off from the very first 1500m race (5.27mins) I ran when I started training seriously three years ago. Improving so much is incredible! As compared to last year, I shaved off 8 seconds in one season which is also a big improvement as continuous improvement in sports especially distance running is difficult. This was only possible due to the scientific training provided by Dr Bala, my coach.
As a bonus this 77th Singapore Open was the first time in many years my family had come down to support me at an athletics event.
Q) What are your hopes, dream and target this SEA Games?
Representing Team Singapore on home soil is definitely a privilege and my honour. I hope to achieve a new personal best and win a medal for Singapore.
Q) How’s your preparation for the SEA Games?
My coach and I work in tandem to ensure optimal physiological and psychological preparation for the games. Every aspect of my training is science based as my coach is an established scientist in human performance. Also, I am fortunate that my school has been understanding towards my commitment for running and have allowed me to take time off to participate in overseas races.
Q) What are some of the biggest challenges in your sports career so far leading to SEA Games and your athletics career?
Sacrifice is a precursor to success. I have to prioritise my commitments and manage my time effectively. My coach, Dr Bala constantly reminds us that if we set our sight on achieving something, we must put in the effort, time and focus.
Q) How did you specialise in your particular event? Why this event, what’s the attraction?
I started with sprints when I was in primary school and was actually the slowest of the lot. I had decided to switch to middle distance on my own as I thought running longer and faster is more exciting and tough. With this personal switch and without much training, I clinched the 2nd place at my first Inter-Schools National Track and Field Championship in the 800m race, and realised that I had found my speciality and chose middle distance running. However, this would not been possible until I become serious in training and competing three years ago.
The fun about running middle distances like 800m, or 1500m or 3000m steeplechase is not about how fast you run for the first 100m. It requires quite a lot of thinking actually! You have to be all-rounded in all training aspects and have to be mentally strong and tough. Only the tough can run the distance events as the concentration and focus is over a period of time.
Q) Who is your coach, tell us more about him/her. Also a mention of your previous coaches.
I only started running seriously 3 years ago under one serious coach. He is none other than Dr G. Balasekaran, who is the current Singapore Athletics’ Honorary Assistant Secretary and the Head of Physical Education and Sports Science at NTU. He is passionate and knowledgeable in running. Dr Bala is truly an inspiration in all aspects from academics to running. His personal stories about how he represented his university at the prestigious National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championships during his university days never fail to inspire me. During trainings and even after trainings, he takes time to share with me his inspirational stories about running for Singapore. At that instant, that was a goal I set for myself. Dr Bala is also an exemplary role model to me and my running mates as he sets good example for us to follow. Despite his super busy schedule, he takes time off to train with my running team and he will never fail to be the first to show up. In addition, he spends ample time coaching me to ensure that I am doing my very best. Dr Bala gives strong encouragement and guidance on my performance in which builds up my confidence in running. He constantly reminded me the importance of putting in hard work and discipline in order to be successful, whether in running of in life. Through running, he has taught me to be a stronger individual, inculcating me with the right moral values to make me a better person. Dr Bala is patient and approachable during trainings. Whenever I fall short of his expectations or when I am troubled, he will be there to guide me and make sure that I am always on track. His dedication and effort to this running team is truly admirable. It is indeed an honour to be training under him.
Q) Do you take care of your nutrition and diet? Your opinion on supplements and food.
I strive to eat a balanced diet of wholesome, natural food. In the past few years, I have started to cook and prepare my own meals as this is the best way to ensure I am consuming the right nutrition.
I avoid fried and fatty foods and my preferred post training meals are pasta or Japanese soba noodles. I believe that the right nutrition and recovery goes a long way into making a successful athlete.
Q) Aside from athletics, what else interest you? You could say the other part of your life beyond athletics.
Aside from running, I take interest in music and scrapbooking. I used to go for electone classes when I was a younger. Music helps me to take my mind off running especially when there is a major competition coming up. I can start playing the piano/ electone of my favourite songs for hours even without realising. Also, I love scrapbooking and would make little scrapbooks of my running career as I go along to keep it as fond memories.
Q) How do you fit in your training/competing with your family and studies/work?
As a PE teacher at an all-boys primary school, I have 38 PE lessons a week! This is physically exhausting and at times also mentally draining. Juggling my work commitments and training requires a high level of self-discipline and sound time management skills. Sometimes I have to settle my workout for the day before going to school. I hope to get enough monetary support and leave to be a professional athlete for a while as I am running very well now with my current heavy workload and I think I can run faster with ample rest. Being a school teacher and running competitive is not easy and it drains my energy for my races and trainings.
Q) Share with the readers, some aspects of your training regime.
As a distance runner, we need a little of everything. The spectrum spreads from speed to stamina. Depending on the season, Dr Bala comes up with the training plan which helps to build on these core skills. With his sound scientific principles together with his own personal published research papers, he comes up with the latest methods in training. There is never a boring moment in his training as it is optimal and well planned. A coach as an established scientist and a former competitive athlete makes my training sound and produces results.
Q) What are your long term athletics goals?
I would like to represent Singapore at the Asian or Commonwealth Games. Ultimately, it is the experience and exposure that counts. Winning a medal is always bonus to me.
Q) What advice do you have for young aspiring athletes?
Make sure you are enjoying yourself as that is fundamental to maintaining a long term commitment with the sport. Many young athletes push themselves too hard, too soon and burn out before reaching their full potential. Exercise patience and persistence as this is what will ultimately bring you results you desire