Christina ThamPicture copyright
Christina Tham

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Tham received two gold medals in underwater hockey

It was a 38-year wait – however the arduous work paid off for Christina Tham on the Southeast Asian (SEA) Video games within the Philippines this week.

Tham first represented Singapore on the SEA Video games – a regional Olympic-style occasion – in 1981, profitable silver in swimming on the age of 12.

Now aged 50, she returned to the video games and at last went one higher.

Tham received not one, however two gold medals in underwater hockey – a sport making its debut within the video games.

“I by no means thought I’d be again [at the] SEA Video games and profitable golds and scoring targets,” she mentioned.

“I by no means thought I may carry out at this stage once more.”

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Christina Tham

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Tham determined to get again into skilled competitors in 2005

Tham received into swimming aged seven, when her father had a near-miss whereas canoeing on a lake throughout a household journey to Malaysia.

Her father, who was in his late 40s, couldn’t swim and initially resisted sporting a life jacket – however relented on her mom’s insistence.

“I bear in mind I used to be in one other canoe throughout the lake once I heard a loud shrill,” Tham advised the BBC. “I noticed my dad floating on the water, held up by the life jacket. That saved his life.”

After her dad was rescued, he shortly signed up the entire household for swimming classes – and Tham hasn’t stopped swimming since.

On the age of 12, she represented Singapore on the 1981 SEA Video games in Manila, claiming her first silver within the four x 100m medley relay.

The SEA Video games, that are held each two years, sees athletes from the area compete in quite a lot of occasions.

“I used to be very younger and did not admire the importance [of my] achievement. I come from a typical Singaporean Chinese language household the place [you’re] anticipated to [accept] achievements with modesty,” she says.

“It was solely after I grew to become an grownup that I realised the enormity of my achievements – I used to be 12 and had received a medal within the SEA Video games and was within the {top} 10% within the nation within the [national examinations that year].”

Two years later, she was again on the SEA Video games, clinching one other silver within the 200m breaststroke.

However that is the place her journey as an athlete stopped – at the very least for the subsequent three many years or so.

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Christina Tham

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Tham (fifth from proper) and her staff

Tham pursued a profession within the authorized business, coaching as a solicitor and ultimately heading the authorized division of an actual property firm, Cromwell Property Group.

It wasn’t till 2005 that her sporting profession resumed – and it began with a narrative in a newspaper.

“I noticed an article [about underwater hockey]. It sounded so attention-grabbing and intriguing, [so I] went to attempt it out,” she mentioned.

“I believed that enjoying a staff sport would actually spherical me up as an individual. I discovered I missed a dimension doing solely solitary sports activities my complete life.”

The high-speed recreation, which includes a heavy underwater puck, was added to the SEA Video games this 12 months. And so, 38 years after her debut, Tham discovered herself again the place all of it started – the Philippines.

She scored two targets – one in a four v four occasion and one in a 6 v 6 occasion – because the Singapore staff received each golds.

And Tham has no plans to cease – with the subsequent SEA Video games due in Vietnam in 2021, the gold medallist intends to proceed coaching.

“I prepare as a result of I like to compete,” she mentioned. “I like the depth and the method of getting there and doing my greatest when it actually counts.”

And what would she say to her 12-year-old self?

“I’d say consider in your self. Self-belief is sort of every part – thoughts over matter.”

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Media captionGamers use a brief stick with hit the puck, which lies on the ground of the pool

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