Sports

No longer chasing gold, May Ooi reaches for new goals outside combat sports

Former Olympian “Mighty” May Ooi has been an athlete ever since her childhood, and after announcing her retirement from combat sports earlier this year, she entered a new phase of her life.

While she was working on a timeline in her mind, a change of career was still unknown territory for the 42-year-old.

But now, she understands that it was only one aspect of her life.  

“When you’re an active athlete, the spotlight is on that part of your life,” she explained.

“The stuff that I’m doing like teaching kids, that fades a little bit in the background. It doesn’t mean that it’s not there, it’s just not in the spotlight.”

The former ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title contender continues to teach at her school, Capoeira Kids, and has given more time to her public speaking duties and the Jiu-Jitsu Association of Singapore (JJAS), among other things.

Being an athlete since she was a young girl, competitiveness is in Ooi’s blood, and with her retirement, she has channeled that fire elsewhere.

“As a competitor, you look very much inward into yourself – what I can do, how I can win, and all that,” the former ONE Championship star said.

“But now, I’m learning to channel that competitiveness outward into helping my community, and to elevate the sports community and athletes in Singapore.”

For the time being, Ooi’s focus is on JJAS.

However, she envisions herself working with other organizations all throughout Singapore over the next decade in order to build a strong sporting culture where athletes and communities can come together as a family.

“I want to help create a culture where kids have fun and look forward to sporting events because, at the end of the day, these kids who grow up in that culture will be comfortable to want to do sports,” she said.

“That in itself creates an ecosystem that creates jobs for people and athletes. It’s a very ambitious vision, but I got to work on something big.”

Ooi seems to have an even bigger goal, however.

The lifelong Singaporean athlete is determined to give back to her country and community through service, and the luminary hopes she will be given a chance with an official role very soon.

“In 2020, I’m looking to be a nominated member of Parliament for sports,” she revealed.

“I’ll continue serving my community even if it doesn’t happen because I can serve and help the community in other capacities, too. It’s not limited to just that, but that’s one thing to shoot for.

“I’ve been in sports my whole life, and I know the ins and outs of it — not just on the athlete side, but also the business end and administering it. I’ve gone 360 with it, and I even have my medical training. With all my experience, I think I have what it takes.”

MMA (MIXED MARTIAL ARTS)