What does your age mean to you? Is it a mere numeral, a yearly reminder of the passage of time, or a guide to how well you ought to live your life? In our ‘Age Is Just A Number’ feature, Her World speaks to Singapore women from their 20s to 80s, and delves into how they feel about age and ageing.
These are their stories.
Shayna Ng, National Bowler, 32
One of Singapore’s top athletes, Shayna Ng has put the nation on the world map by winning numerous international championship bowling titles. In 2021, she clinched another historic gold medal in the Women’s Singles event at the International Bowling Federation Super World Championships.
“When I turned 30, I did a lot of thinking about what I’ve done with my life so far. What did I want to do that I have not yet achieved? I started feeling a little anxious, like time was running out. Being in my early 30s during Covid-19 made me think, how long am I going to go on for [as an athlete]? You can work in the corporate world until you retire, but It’s inevitable that for athletes, you have to retire at a certain age and look for something else. You cannot stop doing your sport and then call it a day for the rest of your life, unless you are someone like Roger Federer, where you have enough sponsorship deals that can last you a lifetime. But not in bowling. It’s quite a niche sport, so there has to be something after bowling to
keep me going financially.
Small changes mean a lot to me. As long as you are making changes, and they are heading in the rightShayna Ng
direction, then that’s okay.
It’s important to embrace a growth mindset. Two months ago, I started an internship with a sports consulting firm to get a sense of what the corporate world was like. It’s been a huge learning curve for me. The more I explored and learnt, the more I realised how much I don’t know. I still love bowling, but I want to start planning for the future. It was very embarrassing when I started my first week at work. They gave me a work laptop, which was a Lenovo Thinkpad. I’ve always been a Mac user and having to use Microsoft software was very foreign to me. I had to google how to take screenshots on a PC. My colleagues were very kind; they set aside time to give me Excel and Powerpoint training. The people who were teaching me were 25 or 26 years old. It’s unthinkable, and it really opened my eyes.
I’m also a volunteer with the Athlete’s Commission and the Women in Sport Committee under the Singapore National Olympic Council. With Athlete’s Commission, the aim is to help other athletes in Singapore. I feel that there is a lot lacking when it comes to teaching them how to transition from their sporting careers.
For Women in Sport, we are working on bringing up women’s participation within the sporting industry, such as coaching, sports administration and in leadership positions. Not that I can single-handedly change that; it’s not something that can be changed overnight as well. I’ve witnessed first-hand the inequalities between women and men in sports. The discrepancy comes in terms of funding – for instance, women get about 50 per cent less in prize money than men in competitions
Small changes mean a lot to me. I don’t expect that my initiatives would change the world, but I feel that as long as you are making changes, and that they are heading in the right direction, then that’s okay. Bowling has shaped a huge part of my life. It’s the life skills that the sport has taught me that have made an impact on me. Thirty years from now, people are not going to remember me for being a world champion, but the life skills that I have will still be very relevant.
I think I’m pretty resilient; I can push myself, and bowling has taught me to never be defeated by any challenges. I’ve also learnt that everything in life is hard. Everyone needs to establish that. There’s no
‘something’ that you can do that life will [suddenly] become ‘good’. You just need to understand your heart, and just go through with it.”
PHOTOGRAPHY Veronica Tay
CREATIVE DIRECTION Windy Aulia & Elizabeth Lee
ART DIRECTION Ray Ticsay & Adeline Eng
HAIR Fadli using Keune & Aung using Revlon Professional Singapore & Gama Professional Singapore
MAKEUP Nikki Fu using Dior Beauty & Lolent Lee using Chanel Beauty