Fighting on two fronts

Fighting on two fronts
National wushu exponent Ho Lin Ying showing off her skills at the World Championships in Kuala Lumpur last month. She is now spending three weeks training in China, thanks to the Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation.

At an age where most toddlers would be pestering their parents for new toys, Ho Lin Ying had a different request.

When she was only three, Lin Ying, who would copy her elder brother's martial arts moves at home, badgered her parents into letting her take wushu classes. In the end, what seemed like a peculiar request turned out to be a masterstroke.

Last month, the 14-year-old became Singapore's youngest world champion when she clinched a gold medal at the World Wushu Championships in Kuala Lumpur.

In doing so, she became the first Singaporean since Ng Cheng Hye in 1995 - better known as the actor Vincent Ng - to win an individual world title in the discipline.

Sheng Shi Jie, head coach of the wushu team, said: "For someone so young, Lin Ying is able to execute many difficult moves in her routine, like jumping and spinning in the air. She has very good fundamentals, and exceeded all expectations at the World Championships."

Yet, her smooth taiji strokes belied what has been a gruelling climb to the top, where she had to mature much faster than her peers.

While her friends were busy with life in Hong Wen (Primary) School, Lin Ying was collecting medals at the National Championships, bagging her first gold at the age of eight.

By the time she left in 2011, the wushu team captain and school vice-head prefect had clinched a total of 17 golds at the National Championships, including an unprecedented five in 2011.

After being selected by the national team in 2010, the chatty girl also had to devote much of her time to training six days a week, on top of her private wushu class on Sunday. Yet, the Nanyang Girls' High School student takes it all in her stride.

"Yes, I've had to sacrifice a lot of my personal time, but I really love taijiquan, ever since my first gold medal in Primary 2," said Lin Ying, who was praised by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat in a Facebook post after her gold-medal showing last month.

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