Doing his bit for disability sailing
Para-sailor Tan takes up coaching badges to pass on knowledge to next generation
When sailor Jovin Tan returned from the Rio Paralympics last year, he pondered hard about his next move.
Disability sailing is not on the cards at Tokyo 2020, and the move cascaded down to the Asian Para Games next year, as well as the Asean Para Games in Malaysia this year.
Also, his two coaches are already in their 60s and 70s, and retirement could be on the horizon for them.
Tan, 31, decided to take it upon himself to get his coaching badges, so that he could pass on his knowledge of the sport and help keep the disability programme running.
"Sailing is not going to be in the next Paralympics, so what am I going to do with all the skills and knowledge?" the four-time Paralympian said in a recent interview with The New Paper.
"There are no (major) Games for me to target and train for, so I might as well do something to give back to the community."
It was easier said than done, though, as Tan - who suffers from cerebral palsy since birth - faced several obstacles in his current journey to become a certified coach.
According to him, he needed a Powered Pleasure Craft Driving Licence, first-aid certification, as well as passes in coaching theory and practical tests before he can coach sailors here.
Among the criteria for obtaining a powerboat licence here is that one cannot be physically handicapped.
However, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) relented in Tan's case, with the help of a support letter from his Member of Parliament Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security.
Mr Teo was also the past president of the Singapore National Olympic Council.
"I thought I had to wait for this department or that one to come back, but the process was really smooth," Tan said.
According to him, MPA officers also facilitated his theory test session by arranging for a lower computer table for the wheelchair-bound sailor.
He passed his tests and got his licence in January but with restrictions - he has to wear a lifejacket on board at all times, and has to be accompanied by an able-bodied person on the boat. Also, he is not allowed to operate jet skis.
Tan said: "I have to wear life jackets, but I have no issues with that because when I am sailing, I am wearing it all the time."
Since then, he has been fretting about his first aid certification, as he was told at a community first aid course he attended recently that he may not be certified as he could not perform certain tasks.
Thankfully for Tan, one agency, Emergencies First Aid and Rescue, was willing to take him up last week, allowing him to verbally instruct another person for the practical portion of the course.
The process has been tedious for Tan, who has a day job as a human resources consultancy administrator, but he said it'd be worth the trouble.
He said: "Some may not want to do it, it's not easy... but sailing is not offered at the major Games till at least 2020.
"As a sailor, if I don't do something, maybe this (local disability sailing) programme is going to die."