Freelance model Mel Tan once represented her native Malacca in basketball. She also represented Pulau Sebang Secondary School in track and field events, from the 400m to the triple jump.
"Nobody told me I was pretty. So I never thought that I would become a model," said Miss Tan.
But this fitness buff would go on to become a model and cover girl of the men's lifestyle magazine FHM. Now 30, she is a "ring girl" with the mixed martial arts (MMA) event One Championship.
With friends from Malaysia, she moved to Singapore in 2011 to find work. She exercises regularly - out of boredom, she says - as she has few friends here. "My friends all went back to Malaysia after they could not find jobs here," she said.
So, she took up pole dancing to get to know more people.
She is also into rock climbing, yoga and running. Her Instagram account shows videos of her doing chin-ups with such style that she would put some NSmen to shame.
Then she was spotted by FHM staff in a shopping mall - they noticed her toned physique. "They approached me to join the model competition," she said.
She hesitated, then put her name down "just for fun". When FHM called to tell her that she had been picked for the next round, she gave it a try and got to the finals of FHM Girl Next Door competition in 2013.
She did not win, but it started her part-time modelling career. Then last July, she was drawn to a recruitment notice online by One Championship (formerly One FC). She knew little about MMA, but sent in several photos, hoping for some event work.
She was hired after an interview. Her physique and looks fit the bill. She made her ring girl debut in Cambodia last September, before flying around Asia for other One Championship events.
With all the travelling, she said it always felt like a holiday. She would take a day or two off from her work as a human resource assistant. The company closed down last month, so she is now between jobs.
As an MMA ring girl, she has a front row seat. "It is just amazing and exciting to watch the fights so close," she said.
She started training in MMA last November after being introduced to muay thai and Brazilian jiu jitsu by her boyfriend, Mr Heath Sims, 43, head coach of Evolve MMA Fight Team.
Now, she trains five times a week. "It is not only about fitness, it is also about skill and technique."
She will be in action - but as a ring girl - at the One Championship: Warrior's Quest MMA event on Friday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
This article was first published on May 20, 2015.
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