Young Nydia stands tall with her mental strength
Singapore's youngest athlete at the ASG ready to do Republic proud
She is the youngest Singaporean athlete at the ongoing 9th Asean School Games (ASG), which will end next Thursday.
Artistic gymnast Nydia Heng may stand at just 1.48m tall and weighs only 37kg, but the 13-year-old can put some adults to shame with her strength.
For instance, the Raffles Girls' School student can do 20 chin-ups. And her mental strength is commendable for someone who trains 33 hours, six days a week.
Nydia almost gave up the sport due to the rigours of training and competition four years ago but she persevered because of her passion.
Willis Heng, recounted the time when his daughter was at the crossroads.
He told The New Paper: "When she was in Primary 3, she cried in every training session, because of the intensity and demands on her.
"I told her coach to give her two weeks off, and I told her to make a decision if she wanted to continue.
"After three days, she came to my wife and I, and made the decision to return to training because she missed it.
"We do not believe in forcing Nydia, because athletes need to have that desire within them, and she needs to want it, especially at higher levels of competition."
Nydia, who will be taking part in the artistic gymnastics team event at the ASG, said: "I chose to continue because I really love the sport, and missed it while I was away.
"I am thankful for my parent's love and support, and the fact that my parents did not force me."
Heng admitted that his daughter is shy and soft-spoken but, on competition day, she wears her game face.
"She is the first and only athlete in the family," said Heng, who has another daughter aged 15.
"She is very focused and keeps her cool. Her mental strength is very good.
"Even when she falls off the balance beam, she takes a deep breath and continues as if she hasn't experienced failure.
"In fact, she does even better when she falls off.
"Even I feel more stressed than my own daughter when I see her on the balance beam."
Asked how she fights her nerves, Nydia said: "I feel that you have no choice even if you fall, because you still have to compete at the end of the day."
The artistic gymnastics team event, which will take place at the Bishan Sports Hall, features the uneven bars, floor exercise, balance beam, and vault.
Individual all-around scores of the four best performing members from a team of five are tabulated to determine the winner.
Nydia, who hopes to compete in the 2021 SEA Games, believes that the camaraderie in her team will stand them in good stead.
She said: "I am glad I have my teammates, Shayne, Lim Sze, Mei, and Josephine, with me.
"My teammates are my best friends, and I spend more than 30 hours a week with them.
"They have seen me through my falls, my failures, and even through tears.
"I am confident for the games, and I believe the team is ready for it, too."
Besides gymnastics, the ASG will also feature athletics, badminton, sepak takraw, swimming, basketball, table tennis, tennis, volleyball and bowling.