Theresa Goh came in fourth at the 100m breaststroke at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, where she was one of the favourites to win. She felt angry, helpless, and sad.
“Balance has always been important to me and in Beijing, I didn’t have it. I learnt I needed to swim happy,” said Goh. In 2016, a more relaxed Goh won bronze in the 100m breaststroke.
For mixed martial arts fighter Amir Khan, his defeat by Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev in 2019 got under his skin for months before he could speak of it without flinching.
Khan realised he “was overly concerned with everyone’s opinion about him”. He had rushed himself, trying to erase losses by wanting to fight too quickly without being ready.
Griselda Khng was the only Singaporean sailor to emerge from the 2006 Asian Games without a medal. It was as if her insides had been hollowed out. “Everyone around me was celebrating,” she said. “I had to put on a good face for them.”
“Defeat taught me resilience,” she said. “It showed me how powerful the mind can be.” Weeks after her Asian Games frustration, Khng came second in the world championships.
In 2011, swimmer Pang Sheng Jun was in despair after a medal-less SEA Games.
A friend helped him off the ledge of despair. He said: “I learnt life is precious.” He got counselling, reminded himself that swimming was fun, and eventually won seven SEA Games medals.
PRODUCED BY: DENISE CHONG