Singapore

Heroes Among Us: Ex-gymnast fights loneliness with music

At seven years old, gymnast Eileen Chai was the youngest athlete to compete in the South-east Asian Games in 1985. 

At 13, she won a bronze medal at the SEA Games after many years of training. But the constant travelling and training for competitions took its toll on her. 

She was seldom in school and although she was winning medals, she was also feeling insecure about herself.

"I was always on my own. Training, eating and doing homework on my own. I didn't have any friends," said Ms Chai, who felt like a "useless" person. 

When she enrolled in the National University of Singapore, she decided to pick up the violin, which she had stopped playing as a child to focus on gymnastics. 

She saw it as a way to bring music back into her life and meet more friends.&

Now 38, Ms Chai, who is a violin teacher, performer, author and speaker, has regained her confidence and is using her experience in dealing with her insecurities to help other children overcome theirs. 

She started the company Teach A Life, For Life in 2012 to encourage people to share their stories and the lessons learnt through music. 

She tells her story in the second episode of Heroes Among Us, an eight-part video series which explores the lives of ordinary Singaporeans who overcame personal struggles to achieve greater things.

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