You have probably seen these girls on TV. Donned in white, they are elegant and poised during every victory ceremony and what’s more, have a chance to rub shoulders with some of Southeast Asia’s star athletes. Despite the glitz and glamour, what you do not know is the effort that goes behind the scenes…
Meet Elizabeth Chew, 18, and Bethany Chang, 19. Elizabeth is an Athlete Escort, responsible for guiding athletes on stage during award ceremonies and Bethany is a Medal Mascot Bearer, responsible for carrying medals and mascots on trays. The girls are volunteers with the 28th Southeast Asian Games, an event which they describe as ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’. As Elizabeth succinctly puts it, “We won’t be young forever”. This event holds more significance to her, considering that the teen from Nanyang Junior College is juggling ‘A’ Levels preparations while supporting the athletes.
Training for the role took more than 7 months and the girls attended mass training sessions and etiquette lessons to prepare for the role. Elizabeth learned how to execute synchronised and straight turns while Bethany practiced for her upcoming role as Medal Mascot Bearer, balancing two glasses of water on trays. The glasses were used to mimic the weight of the mascot and medals on the trays - a lesson that certainly came in handy during games time. The task proved even more nerve wrecking as most of the events at OCBC Aquatic Centre are telecasted live, which means… there is no room for mistakes!
On a lighter note, Elizabeth and Bethany look forward to taking a picture with at least one of the home team athletes. Talking about their star struck moments, the girls gush about meeting Joseph Schooling, especially when he broke national records at the Men’s 50m Freestyle Victory Ceremony.
“It is because of the SEA Games that I am more into the swimming scene,” Elizabeth admits. Previously, they do not know many athletes, but joining and getting involved in the SEA Games has introduced them to more home team, as well as ASEAN athletes. “Joining the SEA Games has definitely been a very eye-opening experience for me,” Bethany confirms.
Joseph Isaac Schooling is 19, Quah Zheng Wen is 18 and Stephanie Chen is 20. How do the girls feel when meeting athletes who are almost their age? Bethany, who is a synchronised swimmer herself, is pleased to see so many talented stars at the SEA Games. Having witnessed most of the synchronised swimming performances, and having watched and cheered for them, Bethany found it extremely inspiring that the athletes were about the same age. She is wistful when she chirps, “Maybe, one day I will get there.”
This author of this article is a volunteer content producer with Team Nila. For more content produced by Team Nila, please head to the 28th SEA Games Social Wall.