#HerWorldHerStory: Quah Ting Wen on overcoming self-doubt as a national swimmer

by Hayley Tai & Cheong Wen Xuan  /   May 20, 2020

To continue to the next Olympics or retire? The 2019 SEA Games gold medallist found her answer after a wake-up call

#HerWorldHerStory is a collection of 60 women sharing their successes, passions, challenges, inspirations, hopes and dreams. Together, they give a snapshot of what it is to be a woman today.

Every month from March till August, we present 10 women navigating their lives now – and in their own words. Check out Quah Ting Wen’s story…

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At one point in my life, I didn’t embrace my identity as a professional athlete, and failed to communicate my struggles to those around me. For three years, I was so unsure of what I wanted. It wasn’t until last year that I had a wake-up call, having to make the decision whether to continue till the next Olympic Games or to retire.

I finally reached out to my friends and family, and opened up to them about my insecurities. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted – but I did eventually. That is to continue competing, and embrace my identity as a professional swimmer.

Swimming is an extremely cruel sport. You put in hours and hours of work – with everything on the line – without knowing if any of it will pay off. I joined the national team when I was 11, training 10 times a week with only one rest day. My schedule has not changed much in the last 17 years, except with additional weight-lifting sessions as I got older.

Since then, I have competed in seven Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, four Asian Games, three Commonwealth Games, six World Athletics Championships and two Olympic Games. Still, my most rewarding moments are watching my siblings, both national swimmers, compete.

What fills me with pride and joy is watching my sister, Jing Wen, winning her first SEA Games medal; my brother, Zheng Wen competing at the Olympic Games; and every relay I’ve swum with them.

Now, when I think about my next chapter, I can see so many different paths. But I’ll definitely find a way to give back to the sport that has given me so much.

This article was first published in Her World’s May issue. Grab a copy today!