From novice to champion
Jean's first attempt at the Nationals was a disaster, but how things have changed four years on
She preferred netball, but ended up with canoeing as her co-curricular activity in school.
In her first big race - at the 2010 National School's Junior K1-1000m event -Jean Linh suffered the ignominy of capsizing.
Today, Jean has gone from hopelessly wet to champion, after the 16-year-old Damai Secondary School student won gold in the B Division K4-1000m event in June.
Speaking to The New Paper, the bubbly teenager laughed as she recounted the number of times she capsized while training for the inter-school canoeing championships every year.
"About six to seven times every training session - and it was so tiring having to climb out and overturn the canoe after each incident," she recalled.
"Thankfully, my coach and teammates would there to back me on and advise me on issues like controlling my balance."
Today she is a Secondary 4 student who has had to sacrifice much in an effort to become a better canoeist.
She was an art club member before she took up the sport and these days weekends are spent running and swimming for fitness, on top of her four training sessions every week.
Her toughest sacrifice, though, was having to give up her cell phone - to focus on canoeing and the O Level examinations later this month.
"Without my phone, everything was clear and straightforward - study and paddle, study and paddle," Jean explained. I'm glad my hard work paid off, because I really wanted to get the gold."
Jean's grades have matched her success on water.
She recently attained direct school admission to her dream institution, National Junior College (NJC).
She attributes her all-round success to strong family support and values inculcated by canoeing, such as commitment and perseverance.
Teo Swee Wah, her teacher-in-charge, said: "Jean is well respected by her peers and is a competent and compassionate student.
"When any younger canoeist struggles with balancing studies and canoeing, we would always advise them to learn from Jean.
"Her attitude towards her studies and sport is truly admirable."
Jean's long-term goal is to represent Singapore in canoeing.
"I aim to train harder in NJC and win enough medals to earn a place with the national team," she said.
"I raced against some of the national canoeists in June and their strokes were really fast and smooth.
"It's going to take a lot to be like them, but anything can be pulled off with the right mindset."
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