Teenage windsurfer Marsha set to realise her dreams
After early setbacks, teenage windsurfer Marsha is set to realise her dream of representing Singapore on the world stage
Ever since she picked up sailing at the age of six, Marsha Shahrin had always wanted to represent Singapore on the world stage.
But her dreams were dealt a double blow when she failed to make the cut for the 2014 Asian Games and the 2015 SEA Games.
Failure could not keep her away from the water, though. She switched to windsurfing after trying it out at the 2015 Singapore Youth Olympic Festival.
Three years on, Marsha has got the wind back in her sails.
The 17-year-old is set to realise her dream of representing the Republic at a major event after she qualified for the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in October in the girls' Techno293+ class.
She secured the slot in February, after finishing eighth out of 21 competitors at the Singapore Open Windsurfing Championships.
My goal for YOG is a top five (finish), but if the wind conditions are favourable ... I may be able to get a medal.Singapore windsurfer Marsha Shahrin, on the Youth Olympics in Argentina in October
Last month, Marsha received a boost in her preparations. She was among 269 student-athletes who received the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship.
In spite of her early setback, the Year Five Raffles Institution student did not let it affect her, and she saw windsurfing as an opportunity to redeem herself.
She told The New Paper: "I was quite dejected at first, but I would say I take disappointment quite well.
"I took up windsurfing because I wanted a restart, but I never had a thought about wanting to quit."
Her route to Buenos Aires has been anything but smooth.
With her year-end examinations coming right before the YOG, Marsha has had to juggle between training and studies.
Even while training or competing abroad, she spends her evenings poring over her books or catching up with lectures that her teachers upload online.
While many of her peers were having a break during last month's school holidays, her daily routine involved back-to-back studying and training sessions, while observing the fasting month of Ramadan.
One of her most trying times came towards the end of Ramadan last month, when she was competing in the Singapore National Sailing Championships in sweltering heat. She finished third out of five competitors in the five-day regatta.
As a national athlete, she has had to make many sacrifices, including her social life, but Marsha insisted that her experiences have made it all worthwhile.
She said: "I was a little envious of others at first, but then again, many people don't get to do what I'm doing, so I don't think I'm missing out on much.
"Besides, my closest friends are my teammates and, when you have people you love doing it alongside you, it's not so bad."
Heading into the YOG, Marsha has set her sights on making the top five, although she does not rule out the possibility of a podium finish.
She said: "My goal for YOG is a top five (finish), but if the wind conditions are favourable like in Singapore, I may be able to get a medal."
Marsha will be joined in Buenos Aires by boys' Techno293+ windsurfer Alexander Lim, who also qualified for the Games after finishing fourth out of 40 competitors at the Singapore Open in February.