Sportsgirl of the Year Constance Lien sets sights on world title
Ju-jitsu exponent Lien sparing no effort in her bid for world title next week
Constance Lien may be just 19, but the ju-jitsu exponent doesn't settle for anything less than perfection.
The Sportsgirl of the Year, who won an Asian Games silver medal last year, trains up to four times a day to realise her dream of becoming a world champion.
Next week, she will be vying for an international title when she takes part in the May 30-June 2 World International Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Championships in Long Beach, California. She will be contesting in the blue-belt adult featherweight division (under-58.5kg).
Hoping to give it her best shot, she works her body like a machine.
"Chances of me over-training are often very high," she said. "I'm afraid to take a break because I know there will be other girls training and (I'm) worried if it'll push me back."
Her fear of losing is so great that she pushes herself relentlessly. An average day would see Lien sparring and working on drills twice before an hour of strength and conditioning workouts that involve weights, interval, cardio and resistance training.
"I'm basically treating my body like a machine," said Lien, who has started on a gap year to focus on the martial art after graduating from Temasek Polytechnic with a diploma in early childhood studies earlier this month.
"Now that I don't have school and have so much time on my hands, I tend to go full-on with training and I expect myself to give 100 per cent each time.
"But burnouts are bound to happen if you train like that.
"I have to take a step back and talk to my coaches who plan my training with me, so there won't be so much anxiety if I'm doing enough or not."
Lien broke new ground last year by winning Singapore's first ju-jitsu medal at the Asiad in Indonesia, where the sport made its debut.
At next week's World Championships, there will be 58 other opponents in her division.
But she is confident that the world title is within reach as she will be fighting opponents of similar experience levels, unlike at the major Games where it is an open-belt division.
"Ultimately, it's my dream. I'm someone who, if I want something and set my mind to it, I'll do whatever it takes to get it," she said.
Lien is no stranger to competition. She started as a swimmer, following her mother, Yuen Shuang Ching, who was a former national swimmer. Her sister, Charity, still swims.
But, after swimming competitively since her childhood days, the Singapore Sports School alumna, who competed at the 2013 Fina World Cup, felt she was stagnating.
She left the pool in 2015 in search of a new environment and found muay thai. She joined her friends for classes before switching over to ju-jitsu after six months.
"Ju-jitsu is a really good sport, but not just a sport and more of a lifestyle. It empowered me and helped me overcome my insecurities," she said.
After the World Championships, she is aiming for a podium finish at the Ju-jitsu Asian Championships in Mongolia in July - which also serves as a SEA Games qualifier - and will promote to a purple belt.
In her pursuit of becoming a world champion, she has realised that her biggest opponent is herself.
She recalled after the Asian Games, when she lost 4-2 to South Korea's world champion Sung Kira, that she brooded over some of her mistakes.
She said: "It was a loss and I don't like silvers. But then I realised it was a very eye-opening experience.
"I got through so many rounds against people of the same or higher level than I am and still won, so I guess I deserved a pat on the back."