Unleashing Teamwork Through Sports

Tan Wee Meng
National Dragon Boater


Take a peek into the life of student athletes who have to manage both studies and their sports. Sometimes it is a constant struggle trying to have a balance of both but the taste of their success in doing so will be more satisfying.

Tan Wee Meng, left rower and front paddler, represents Team Singapore Dragon Boat. He is currently studying full-time in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, pursuing a diploma in Electrical Chemical Engineering. Tan has been rowing for three years and only joined the national team when he was studying in ITE. His achievements for this sport consist of local races such as River Regatta and POLITE competitions.

It is amusing and common now to see the youth being more concerned about their physique. Wee Meng is no exception either. The interest for dragon boat sparked off because of his adoration towards those huge muscles as seen from gym goers who actually turned out to be dragon boaters. From a lean looking track and field runner back in his secondary school days to a well-built paddler representing the country, I must say he has fulfilled what he set out to do. Being the only national athlete in his school team definitely creates a certain amount of pressure for him to set the bar high and yet stay humble for his peers to approach him.

It is always challenging for student athletes to cope with their academic and athlete expectations. SportSanity managed to meet with Wee Meng to find out about his journey so far.

You are full-time student and a national athlete, how do you manage both priorities?
It’s tough; you got to manage your time very well. There are more modules to cover in Poly than in ITE. And you got to talk it out with your lecturers because I may leave early to attend national trainings. This means I have to travel down earlier as we can’t be late. I only attend school trainings on weekends and weekdays are for national trainings. I need to communicate with both coaches too.

Are your parents supportive of you?
I believe all of our parents wish to see us prioritize our studies first. But they trust that I can manage my studies well and they let me decide on what I want in my life. Whenever there is training in the evening, my parents will actually prepare my dinner and making sure I come back safe. 

How is it like training with a large group of athletes?
I like the idea of being in a team sport, last time I was just running alone in track but a team sport can make you achieve something you can’t do individually. When I’m with my peers, they always give me moral support and as I said earlier, there are things we can achieve as a team.

How has being in team sports made you the person you are today?
There are days where you stick to your comfort zone so when it comes to team, there is someone else competing with you during training so you’ll feel like pushing yourself. You will keep trying to improve yourself.

Do you prefer land training or sea training?
Sea training, when people give up, you have to pull their weight, but for land, you’re training for your own good so there are no responsibilities when you give up. It is good for mental training. 

When was the most memorable encounter where you were very thankful for your teammates?
My most memorable encounter was the River Regatta 2013, with the year threes. That was the only race where the team had their morale up, as it was their last race. So we were competing with this team, which was one of the top few teams in Singapore. Everybody thought we were definitely going to lose, but we ended up winning!

What are some of the challenges you face during school trainings?
Trying to bring the school team to another level, because I’m in national team so I would want them to be better. I will always try to humble myself and I don’t want them to feel that things should go this way because of me. I want to make them train like champions but some are not ready for it. I always talk to the captain and the coach so they can actually work something out for the team.

What are your personal goals and goals for the team in the future?
For school, it’ll definitely be POLITE because once you win it; you have priority for the whole year ahead as this is the main race for all the polytechnics. National wise, it’ll be South East Asia (SEA) Games next year.

Why should people join dragon boat?
It is a great activity to bond with your peers, because the boat is heavy, everybody has to put in the effort and they need to communicate. After the session, they’ll definitely become closer.

What are your hobbies apart from playing sports?
Personally I love sports so much that, I don't have much time to do other things unless it is related to sports. I love to research on nutrition and supplements.   

Written by Charity Chan

Charity is a writer contributing her works for SportSanitySG. She is currently studying in Ngee Ann Polytechnic - Mass Communications. You will be amazed by her enthusiasm towards anything fitness. Her passion includes, working out at the gym, rock climbing, travelling and enjoying good food with great company. 

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