Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know the name Cheyenne Goh, belonging to the bright-eyed 18-year-old who will represent our nation at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang this year. She’s the very first Singaporean Winter Olympian and flag-bearer to date, and we couldn’t be prouder.
On Feb 17, Cheyenne will make her Olympic debut at the 1,500m short track speed skating event. Here are 6 things you need to know about the young athlete before you catch her at the games.
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1. Cheyenne has been skating since she was 4 years old
Cheyenne’s family relocated 14 years ago because of her parents’ jobs, trading the muggy Singaporean heat for Canada’s treacherously cold climate. One upside to their move was that Cheyenne could take up sports that ordinary Singaporeans wouldn’t regularly get to.
Her very first encounter with skating was at a public rink in Quebec. At age 4, she refused to use a skating aid to help her balance and proved to be a natural on the ice.
2. She played ice hockey for 8 years
If you’ve ever watched an ice hockey match, you would know it’s a little like American football. In the sense that it is a brutally violent contact sport. Now imagine a young teenage girl, who is 165cm tall, competing alongside Caucasians who are mostly physically bigger than her. Cheyenne played nine seasons of the sport before it dawned on her that the aspect of the game she enjoyed most was the skating.
In 2012, she made the switch to short track speed skating.
3. Short track speed skating is a dangerous sport, too
For the uninitiated, a short track speed skating competition takes place around a short oval track. Because skaters can hit speeds of up to 50km/h, collisions can get really ugly. Remember, the blades on those skates are pretty sharp.
So skaters have to wear lots of protective gear, from helmets to cut-resistant suits and gloves to avoid getting cut up in the event of a crash.
4. Cheyenne has bagged many firsts for Singapore
Her career in skating may just have begun, but Cheyenne already has two silver medals and one bronze medal for speed skating from the 2017 SEA Game held in Kuala Lumpur, a first for Singapore. She is also the first Singaporean speed skater to compete at the Intercontinental Short Track Invitational in Calgary in 2016 and at the Asian Winter Games in 2017.
To qualify for the Winter Olympics, Cheyenne had to go through a grueling two months of fierce competition at the the International Skating Union World Cup Short Track Speed Skating. And you already know how that went - she made it to Pyeongchang.
5. Her debut at the 2017 SEA Games coincides with the very first time in history that winter sports events were included
Prior to the 2017 SEA Games, skating was not one of the sports that athletes from around the region would compete in.
But last year, to the excitement of athletes and spectators alike, ice hockey, figure skating and short track speed skating were introduced to the Games. Aside from Cheyenne’s wins, Team Singapore nabbed a gold and silver medal in figure skating.
6. She also trains with a competitive cycling club
Back in her hometown, Alberta, Canada, Cheyenne is an avid cyclist too. She trains frequently with the Edmonton Juventus Cycling Club and most recently took part in the Junior Road Nationals in Ontario. Her younger brother, who is 15, also cycles competitively.