Wait is over as Team Singapore rower Joan Poh gets her Olympic spot
The Covid-19 pandemic threw national rower Joan Poh's plans into disarray and forced her to chase her Olympic dream for another year.
After finishing 12th at the Asia and Oceania qualification regatta in Tokyo on May 7, she was made to wait another 20 days before she knew if her efforts had been enough to secure her an Olympic berth.
Yesterday, Poh finally received the news that she had been waiting for: confirmation from the World Rowing Federation that she was headed to the Tokyo Games.
The 30-year-old's journey to the Olympics has not been an easy one. The staff nurse in Tan Tock Seng Hospital's renal department took 16 months' no-pay leave to train overseas, going to places such as Hong Kong, Greece, China, Canada and Australia.
As she struggled to find a steady coach, she also had to worry about finances to fund her Olympic campaign, which she estimates she has forked out $20,000 annually for.
There was some support along the way from supporters like Pho3nix Foundation, crowdfunding and government grants such as SpexGlow funding, which offers financial assistance to national athletes for loss of wages.
When the pandemic struck, she returned to nursing from last April to March this year.
While doing eight- to 10-hour shifts at work, she kept training for at least 20 hours a week.
Yet, all these challenges were not enough to quash her ambitions.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong congratulated Poh in a Facebook post, noting that she has been juggling her daily training sessions with her shifts as a nurse.
"Congratulations Joan for qualifying for the Olympic Games! Your hard work has borne fruit and we will be cheering you on."