S'pore national gymnast on gruelling schedule that keeps her in shape

PHOTO: S'pore national gymnast on gruelling schedule that keeps her in shape

SINGAPORE - Rhythmic gymnastics has grown to be the centre of Ms Daphne Chia's life since she picked up the sport at the age of nine.

The 18-year-old was in the first rhythmic gymnastics team from Singapore to compete in the ASEAN School Games in 2010, when it managed a second placing, despite being the youngest team there.

The Raffles Institution student was the all-around national junior champion in 2011, and all-around national senior champion last year and this year. Gymnasts turn senior when they reach the age of 16.

Last year, she was also the first individual rhythmic gymnast to represent Singapore in the Asian Championships held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and the World Championships held in Kiev, Ukraine.

She intends to continue gymnastics after junior college to work towards her most important goal, which is the SEA Games next year.

"After the SEA games, I may consider taking a gap year to continue training and competing, or work towards becoming a qualified judge for rhythmic gymnastics, before retiring from the sport," she said.

She then intends to study medicine in university.

Her mother is a nurse and her father is a doctor working in a pharmaceutical company. She has three brothers, two older and one younger.

Her next challenge is the Crocodile 11th Singapore Gymnastics Open Championship 2014 - Rhythmic Gymnastics (National), held from June 27 to 29 at Bishan Sports Hall. She stands 1.68m tall and weighs 54kg.

What do you do to keep fit?

I rely mainly on my gymnastics sessions to keep fit, as I train every day, except Sunday.

Training usually takes up to 4 1/2 hours on each weekday, with dance classes on Saturdays to complement my training.

Each session usually starts with two or three sets of conditioning and stretching exercises.

After that, I do basic skills training, such as jumps, kicks, balances and turns, before I practise my routines.

I do four apparatuses - the hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. I have different routines for each, performed to different music and also in different styles.

What is a typical day like for you?

I usually reach school early in order to do some homework before lessons start at 7.40am.

Classes end between 1.30pm and 5.30pm, depending on the timetable.

I usually do more work in school before going for training from 4.30pm to 9pm.

I have dinner in the car on the way home as either my father or older brother will pick me up.

Once I'm home, I wash up and start on my schoolwork, before going to sleep around midnight. Sometimes, I stay up till 1am.

What is your secret to looking so fabulous?

I think being a rhythmic gymnast has definitely been a major factor. Maintaining a lean figure is essential if I want to prevent injuries, execute moves that have high levels of difficulty and also look good during competition, as rhythmic gymnastics is essentially a performance sport.

During the off-season, I will run once or twice a week to supplement my workouts.

That said, having a genuine smile and aura of confidence will make anyone look fabulous.

Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

I was always an active kid, learning ballet and Chinese dance when I was in primary school.

I started rhythmic gymnastics when I was nine years old.

What is your diet like?

I eat most things, but I try toeat more fruit and less fried or processed food.

Breakfast usually consists of milk and bread, cereal or oats. In school, I will eat some fruit and bread during breaks. For lunch, I may have a hearty salad prepared by my mother or buy food from the school canteen.

Before training, I usually have a banana or cereal bar.

Dinner is usually simple Chinese cuisine, consisting of rice, vegetables, fish (usually steamed) and other meat such as grilled chicken or steamed prawns.

I also have about two servings of fruit after dinner.

What are your indulgences?

Chocolate. I eat it when taking part in competitions overseas, as it gives me a quick energy fix.

What do you do to relax?

I enjoy listening to music and I play the piano for leisure. I also hang out with my friends in school.

During holidays, I enjoy baking, especially trying out healthier versions of recipes.

What are the three most important things in your life?

Family, love and learning.

My family, because of everything they have done to support my journey so far, both in and outside of gymnastics.

Love, because to love what you do and do what you love is the key to being satisfied with what you have.

Learning, because I think that everything that happens, no matter good or bad, can be used as an opportunity. Learning also helps one to constantly upgrade oneself and become a stronger person.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

I wouldn't go for plastic surgery for aesthetic purposes, as I am happy with how I look.

But I wouldn't be against having plastic surgery for reconstructive reasons, in the case of an accident or other trauma, for instance.

Do you think you're sexy?

I think everyone is sexy in their own way.

wanching@sph.com.sg

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